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Wairarapa writing talents win big

Andrew Denholm, publisher of the Wairarapa Times-Age says he is “delighted by the level of community engagement” with the inaugural Hedley’s Books-Wairarapa Times-Age Short Story Competition.

Closing on 23 February, the competition drew 49 entries from Wairarapa locals aged between 12 and late 80’s.

“It was a challenging brief,” said  David Hedley, owner of Masterton’s Hedley’s Books that teamed up with the Times-Age for the competition.

“Entrants were required to set their work in Wairarapa and keep within 3000 words.”

Judges of the competition [local writers Angela Yeoman, Ra Smith, and Pia Buck] described the writing quality of entrants as “extraordinary.”

They said it was hard to “whittle the stories down to a long list, a short list, and then to the winners and placegetters.”

“Many wonderful stories missed out on a place by a matter of only one or two points.”

The top prize of a $500 Hedley’s Books’ voucher was awarded to John Bennett for his story East of Eketāhuna. Bennett, a GP with Masterton Medical, is currently in Seattle selling his farm before returning to Wairarapa.

He has gifted his prize to the Masterton Library which manager Tiffany Rawlings described as “thoughtful and kind.”

Second prize, a $300 voucher, goes to Jessie Alsop for her work Natural Consequences.

A $200 voucher, for third place, goes to Dave Timms for his entry Conehead. Very Highly Commended places were awarded to Matt Turner’s The Wind and Ping Lim’s Stranger on a Beach.

The top five short stories will be published in the Times-Age over the following few Saturdays, starting today.

The Judges wanted to mention entrants whose stories made it onto the long list, just missing out on a place: Neil Francis, Sue Bell, Emma McDougall, Phillipa Brown, David Murphy, Jane Schroder, Jonathan Watt, Erin Dean, Jackie Long McCulloch, Kevin Ball, Sally Goyat, and Annabelle O’Meara.

Times-Age’s feature writer, Angela Yeoman, and one of the competition’s judges, said that “every entrant should be proud of their efforts.”

She particularly praised the few students who entered the competition, including Omkara Goyat, Aleah Mitchell, Elise Polley, and Isla Allwood-Holmes. 

“Their entries were beautifully constructed and had engaging storylines.”

Some entries were submitted in the form of memoire. Many of these have been passed onto another of the Times-Age’s publications, New Zealand Memories, and may be published in future editions of that magazine.

“One thing I’d like to say to all the extraordinary and talented writers in the district,” Yeoman said.

“please don’t stop writing. And keep setting yourself targets by entering competitions.”

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories and covering emergencies and crime.

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