Story: Young people and the arts

Page 4. Writing, dance and other arts

All images & media in this story


A number of awards are available. The BNZ Young Writer Award is an annual prize for secondary-school students. There is also a secondary school division in the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition. The biennial Pikihuia Awards for Māori Writers include a secondary-schools category for short stories in either te reo Māori or English.

The National Schools Poetry award for secondary students began in 2003, and is administered by the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University of Wellington. The IIML also ran the National Schools Writing Festival from 2005 to 2011.

Early debuts

In 1898 Katherine Mansfield had her first story published. She was nine years old, and the story, ‘Enna Blake’, was published in the High school reporter, the journal of Wellington Girls’ High School. In 1995, 11-year-old Laura Ranger’s collection Laura’s poems was published. The following year it won best first book at the AIM Children’s Book Awards.

Since 1995 the Dan Davin Literary Foundation has run a short-story competition for secondary-school students in the Southland region. In 2002 the Wellington Children’s Book Association started the Jack Lasenby Award, a short-story competition for those in the Wellington region. It is open to Year 7 and 8 school children in odd-numbered years, and to adult writers for children in even-numbered years.

The Michael King Writers’ Centre offers a young writers programme for Auckland students, while Christchurch’s School for Young Writers is a non-profit organisation that has been tutoring young writers since 1993.


The Auckland Youth Dance Festival was launched in 2013. It is open to secondary-school students in the Auckland region. Bring It On is a secondary-schools hip hop dance competition which started in Auckland in 2003. It grew to also hold events in Wellington and Australia’s Brisbane and Sydney.

The Movement is a nationwide youth hip hop dance competition first held in 2013. The Urban Dance Youth Trust of Tauranga also began a hip hop dance competition in 2013.

Urban Youth Movement is a youth dance company associated with Black Grace, one of the country’s leading contemporary dance companies. Jolt Youth is a Christchurch-based dance company that brings together young dancers with and without disabilities.


In 2011 24-year-old Mikaere Gardiner won first prize in the National Youth Art Awards. Earlier that year he was in the news because he had been unmasked as ‘Eno’, the mysterious creator of street art in New Plymouth. His unmasking caused difficulties because he was an employee of the New Plymouth District Council, who viewed work like his as graffiti.

Art and design

The Waikato Society of Arts began holding the biennial National Youth Art Awards in 2009. They are open to 15–27 year olds working in all art media. Pop Youth Art Industries holds an annual art competition for 5–18 year olds living in Auckland, and the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Pakuranga, Auckland, runs an annual youth art award for secondary-school students. Those aged 16–19 who live in mid- and South Canterbury can enter the Zonta Youth Art Awards and have their work exhibited at the Ashburton Art Gallery.

The Youthtown Creatifs Young Designer Awards are open to budding fashion designers aged 13–18. There are two categories – fashion design and wearable art.

Māori and Pacific arts

Primary- and secondary-school kapa haka (Māori traditional performing arts) competitions take place annually. Participants in these events often go on to compete as adults at Te Matatini, the national festival of kapa haka.

The Ngā Manu Kōrero National Secondary Speech Contest has been running since 1965.

The annual ASB Polyfest started at Hillary College in Auckland in 1976. The festival celebrates Cook Islands, Māori, Niuean, Samoan and Tongan cultures and school students compete on stage, having devised traditional song and dance routines. Auckland schools take turns to hold the festival.

How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Young people and the arts - Writing, dance and other arts', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 June 2024)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 22 Oct 2014