Getting published: Writing competitions for teens

One way of getting published is to enter your work into writing competitions. Winning an award is the way many top New Zealand poets and writers have started their careers.

New Zealand writing competitions


Re-Draft is a nationally acclaimed collection of teenagers' writing, published each year by Clerestory Press. Any New Zealand teenager can enter their work using the form found in the back of the current edition of Re-Draft. Entries can be any creative writing genre and will be judged by award winning New Zealand writers. Read the guidelines.

Service Stations and Other Liminal Spaces contains 101 pieces of surprising, quirky writing (including our first Graphic Fiction) by 70 of NZ’s top teenage writers. It also contains the entry form for this year’s competition.

Entries are open until 1 September 2019.

Find out more: Re-Draft.

Metro Poems on buses

Feeling like Shakespeare? How about writing a sonnet?
Poems on Buses is back again, with great prizes up for grabs!

Open sections: Adult & Te Reo Māori
High School sections: Years 9-10 & Years 11-13
Primary School sections: Years 0-6 & Years 7-8

The competition will be live at Thursday 1 August 2019.

Tearaway Mavericks

Do you have dreams of working in print or digital media? Do you take awesome photos, or write a hilarious blog? ...

Posted by Tearaway Magazine on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

So you want to be a TEARAWAY Maverick? Mavericksopens a new window are getting a head-start in the media industry by creating their own magazine, learning and honing skills as they go. Mavericks are involved in all areas of TEARAWAY, from creating the content and designing the look of the site, to uploading, marketing and social media. The team has regular brainstorming sessions within a supportive online environment and are encouraged to pitch ideas at any time. Find out more about being a Tearaway Maverick.

The School for Young Writers - Write On Competition

The School for Young Writers runs competitions. The latest one is called The Mystery. Send in your best story with a mystery at its heart. Winning stories will be published in Write On issue 52, Winter 2019. Prizes: Years 4 to 6 - two winners will receive $30 Scorpio Books vouchers; Years 7 to 8 - two winners will receive a $50 Scorpio Books voucher; Years 9 to 10 - two winners will receive a $70 Scorpio Books voucher. $5.00 per individual entry, or $25.00 for each six entries from a school. Closing date: 15 May 2019

Find out more:

Paint n’ Pen – Let Christchurch street art inspire you to write

Celebrate Christchurch’s rich street art scene by writing a poem, some lyrics or a short story inspired by it. The Commuting Book presents Paint n’ Pen, a creative writing programme open to all ages, to residents and visitors from New Zealand and overseas. Submit your work as an individual or as a family group and in your own language. All submissions will be reviewed by a multi-lingual panel and they will select the works that fit the criteria and show skill. The selected pieces will be part of the Commuting Book Scan & Read projects, they'll be published in the Stories catalogue and the best ones will have the chance to be featured on the Watch This Space map, the Augmented Reality street art app Plain Sight and in the summer exhibitions at Tūranga and New Brighton Libraries.


Fantastic Feasts Poetry Competition - Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities (Monday 12 August to Friday 27 September)

The Teece Museum invites young writers to take part in our biennial poetry competition. We are looking for creative and interesting poems written in response to our current exhibition Fantastic Feasts, or in response to an object from our collection. Poems will be accepted by authors in two age groups: age 11-14, and age 15-18 years. There will be prizes for the best entries in each age group, and the winning poems will be published on the Teece Museum website.

How to enter:
Entries open 9am 12 August 2019 and close 5pm 27 September 2019. Winners will be announced 14 October 2019. Find out more.

National Flash Fiction Day Competition

There are 3 prizes in the Youth (18 and under) category of the National Flash Fiction Day Competition: First Prize: $200; Second Prize: $100; Third Prize: $50.

Send your best 300-word story. The 2019 National Flash Fiction Day Competition runs 15 February to 15 April 2019.
Winners will be announced 22 June at the National Flash Fiction Day celebrations, and all winners are invited to attend and share their stories.

Find out more: 2019 National Flash Fiction Day Competition.

Smart Alex Competition for Secondary Schools

The Smart Alex creative writing competition is sponsored by The Friends of the Turnbull Library Ngā Hoa o te Whare Pukapuka Turnbull. Entry is free and there is $3,000 in prize money. They invite a personal response from you to an item in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Your response (or interpretation) can be a piece of creative writing, a poem, an illustrated graphic story, or the written lyrics for a song or waiata. To get you going, they have selected a range of images from the Library’s collections that may spark your imagination. If you want to explore for yourself, you can search online to discover something else in the Alexander Turnbull collections that inspires you.

Entry is open to anyone currently attending a secondary school in New Zealand or in the Pacific Islands. There are two age-group categories for entries: Years 9-10, and Years 11-13.

Submit your completed entry by 5pm on Sunday 21 July 2019. Results will be announced on Thursday 19 September 2019.

Find out more

Poetry New Zealand Yearbook Student Poetry Competition

Entries are now open for the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook student poetry competition. Send in your previously unpublished original poem and be in to win a copy of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2019. Winning poems will be published in the 2020 edition of the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, and each poet and their school will also receive a copy of the book.

Entries will be judged by Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2020 editor Johanna Emeney. Entries close 30 June 2019. The 12 winners will be announced on Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, 23 August 2019.
• Poems can be of any length, any style and about any subject
• When you enter please indicate whether you are a Year 11, Year 12, or Year 13 student at a New Zealand school and please name your school
• Four prizes will be given in each of these three age-group categories
• Successful entrants must agree to their names and schools appearing in media and publicity for the award, and their poems appearing online
Please send your entries to

Sargeson Prize - short story competition

New in 2019, the Sargeson Prize is New Zealand's richest short story prize, sponsored by the University of Waikato. Named for celebrated New Zealand writer Frank Sargeson, the Prize was conceived by writer Catherine Chidgey, who also lectures in Writing Studies at the University. Entries open on 1 April for the 2019 (and inaugural) Sargeson Prize and close at 11.59pm (NZST) on 30 June 2019. There is no entry fee, and entries are limited to one per writer, per division.

The Secondary Schools Division is open to students enrolled at a New Zealand secondary school and aged between 16 and 18 years on the date that competition entries close. Entries must be a single story of no more than 3000 words. It must be an original, unpublished piece of work.

  • First Prize: $500
  • Second Prize: $200
  • Third Prize: $100

The winning story will be published in Mayhemopens a new window. The winner of the Secondary Schools Division will also be offered a one-week summer residency at the University of Waikato, to be taken up in January or February of the following year. The residency will include accommodation and meals at one of the University of Waikato Halls of Residence, a writing space in the School of Arts, and mentoring from postgraduate students and/or academic staff in the Writing Studies programme. If the winner is under 18 years of age, parental consent will be required.

Find out more: Sargeson Prize.

Charles Brasch Young Writers' Essay Competition

Landfall runs the Charles Brasch Young Writers' Essay Competition, an annual award open to writers aged 16 to 21. Essays should not exceed 1500 words. The winner will be announced and published in each May issue of Landfall. The winner receives $500 and a year’s subscription to Landfall.
Entries for the 2019 Charles Brasch Young Writers' Essay competition open on 1 December 2018. The closing date for receipt of entries is 31 March 2019.

Find out more: Charles Brasch Young Writers' Essay Competition.

National Schools Poetry Award

The National Schools Poetry Award is held annually. It is free to enter and open to Year 12 and 13 students across New Zealand.
Entries are now open for the 2019 National Schools Poetry Award. Entry deadline: 8 July 2019.

The winner and nine finalists will win cash and prizes for their poems (there is a $500 cash prize for the winner, and a $500 book grant for the winner’s school library), plus an invitation to attend an exclusive masterclass with leading New Zealand poets at the IIML on Wellington's Victoria University campus.

Find out more: National Schools Poetry Award.

Pikihuia Awards

The Pikihuia Awards (formerly the Huia Short Story Awards) is a biennial competition that started in 1995 to discover and recognise Māori writers. The awards encourage diverse Māori viewpoints and writing in both te reo Māori and English. Each award category is open to adults and school students.

The winner of each category will receive a $2000 cash prize. Two highly commended finalists in each category will receive a cash prize of $500 each.

Entries are open from 1 January until 8 April 2019. Finalists will be announced on 19 June, and the winners announced at the Pikihuia Awards Ceremony on 14 September.

Find out more: Pikihuia Awards.


Takahē runs a competition each year. It alternates between a poetry and a short story competition. The Takahē Collective Trust is a non-profit organisation that aims to support emerging and published writers, poets, artists and cultural commentators. 2019's competition is Short Story - First Prize: $250; Second Prize: $100. Maximum length for each story submitted is 2,500 words and entries must be emailed ( and arrive no later than 31 March 2019

Results and the winning story will be published online in Takahe 96 (August 2019) and all entries will considered for publication.

Find out more: Takahē.

The Official NCEA Comedy Writing Competition!

LearnCoach presents the NCEA short-writing competition - comedy style. Every week they are giving $50 to a student who writes a funny one-liner about NCEA-life in under 140 characters.

Sunday Star-Times Short Story awards

This annual competition includes a secondary category. Information should be announced in October 2019.

International writing competitions

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

For poems written by any young poet aged 11 to 17. Each year 100 winners (85 commendations and 15 overall winners) are selected by a team of high profile judges. Free entry.
Find out more: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award.

Other publications to submit your work to

Starling - New writing from young New Zealanders

Starling considers work from New Zealand writers under 25 years old at time of submission. Starling is published twice yearly in January and July. Submissions may be made at any time to be considered for the next issue, so the best time to send your work is when you feel it is ready. The editors will read and respond to all submissions as soon as possible, and in any event no later than 8 weeks following the deadline. The editors are unable to enter into correspondence regarding individual submissions or their selections.

The deadlines for work to be considered for each issue are 20 April for the Winter issue and 20 October for the Summer issue.

  • Poetry: send up to six poems.
  • Prose: Send up to two pieces, each up to a 5,000 word maximum. Prose may include short stories, creative non-fiction, personal essays or anything else you can surprise them with.

Find out more: Starling submissions.

fingers commas toes

fingers comma toes is an online journal for children and young adults created by Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley in October, 2015, in Nosy Be, a small island to the west of mainland Madagascar.

Find out more: fingers commas toes submissions.