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Sargeson Prize

Short story competition

First offered 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.

There is no entry fee, and entries are limited to one per writer, per division.

Entries for the 2024 competition open on 1 April 2024 and close on 30 June 2024.

If you have any questions that aren't answered on this page or in the terms and conditions, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter or email [email protected]

Image of Frank Sargeson by Robin Morrison, 1978. Used with permission of copyright holder.


Open Division

The Open Division is open to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents aged 16 and over who are writing in English. Published and unpublished writers are welcome to enter. Entries must be single stories of no more than 5000 words. They must be original, unpublished pieces of work.

  • First Prize: $10,000
  • Second Prize: $1,000
  • Third Prize: $500

The winning stories will be published by Newsroom in its literary section ReadingRoom.

Enter online now

Enter by post

Secondary Schools Division

The Secondary Schools Division is open to students enrolled at a New Zealand secondary school, or home-schooled students, who are aged between 16 and 18 years on the date that competition entries close. Entries must be single stories of no more than 3000 words. They must be original, unpublished pieces of work.

  • First Prize: $2,000
  • Second Prize: $1,000
  • Third Prize: $500

The winning story will be published by Newsroom in its literary section ReadingRoom.

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.

Enter online now

Enter by post


Read the winning stories

Read the current and previous winning stories


Judging

Each year we invite a leading New Zealand writer to judge the Sargeson Prize. In 2023 our Chief Judge was Vincent O'Sullivan.

Vincent O'Sullivan has received a number of prizes and residencies, including the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, the Michael King Writers Fellowship, the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement, and New Zealand Poet Laureate 2013-2015. He has several times won the Ockham awards or their earlier equivalents. He now lives in Port Chalmers.

Judging is conducted "blind" – ie without the writer's name attached to their submission. Entries are subject to a pre-judging screening process by a panel overseen and moderated by the Chief Judge.

Photo credit: Grant Maiden


How to enter

Entries must be typed and 1.5-spaced in a standard legible font (eg Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Palatino Linotype). The story title and page number must appear on each page of the manuscript (as a header or footer). Writers will be asked to provide a word count on the entry form.

The author's name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript, including headers and footers, any title page and the file name. Entries may be submitted online or by post. Online is the preferred entry method.

Entries that do not follow the formatting requirements may be disqualified.

Entrants are responsible for ensuring that their entry, whether by post or online, reaches us by the deadline.


General Terms

Entries for the 2024 competition open on 1 April 2024 and close on 30 June 2024.

Terms and conditions

There is no entry fee. Only one entry per writer is permitted. A writer may submit in either the Open or Secondary Schools Divisions, but not both. Copyright remains with the author.

To remain eligible, entries must not be submitted to other publications, prizes or anthologies for the duration of the Sargeson Prize entry and judging period. Winners and place-getters will be contacted by 15 September 2024.

Previously published, prize-winning, or broadcast stories will not be accepted. Appearance online on a blog or in an anthology constitutes prior publication.