Hey, Northland Writers – Submit your short story to the Sargeson Prize

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. Entries open on 1 April for the 2020 Sargeson Prize and close at 11.59pm (NZST) on 30 June 2020. There is no entry fee, and entries are limited to one per writer, per division.

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 sargeson.prize@waikato.ac.nz

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

Open Division

The Open Division is open to New Zealand permanent residents aged 16 and over, who are writing in English. Published and unpublished writers are welcome to enter. Entries must be a single story of no more than 5000 words. It must an original, unpublished piece of work.

  • First Prize: $5000
  • Second Prize: $1000
  • Third Prize: $500

The winning story will be published in Landfall. The second and third placing stories will be published in Mayhem.

Enter now

Secondary Schools 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 It must be an original, unpublished piece of work.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 Mayhem.

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 now

Read previous winning stories


Each year we will invite a successful New Zealand writer to judge the Sargeson Prize. In 2020 our Chief Judge will be renowned short story writer and novelist Owen Marshall. Owen has received numerous honours, awards and fellowships for his work. In 2000, he became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to literature and in 2012 became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). In 2013 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.

Judging will be conducted “blind” – i.e. without the writer’s name attached to their submission. Entries will be subject to a pre-judging screening process by a panel overseen and moderated by the Chief Judge.

How to enter

Entries must be typed and 1.5-spaced in a standard legible font (e.g. 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.

To enter online, complete the official online entry form for either the Open Division or the Secondary Schools Division and attach your manuscript. Accepted file types are Word or PDF (.doc, .docx, or .pdf). Entry forms will be available from 1 April 2020.

To enter by post, download and complete the official postal entry form for either the Open Division or the Secondary Schools Division and send it with your story manuscript to Sargeson Prize, ℅ English Programme, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240. Manuscripts must be printed single-sided on A4 paper. Entry forms will be available from 1 April 2020.

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

General Terms

Read the full 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 2020.

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

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