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Mentorship programme fosters young writers

Issue: Volume 97, Number 4

Posted: 09:00am, 12 Mar 2018
Reference #: 1H9hqQ

Secondary school students once again have the opportunity to be mentored by a New Zealand author through a “life-changing” programme aimed at developing the skills of aspiring young writers.

The Youth Mentorship Programme, run by the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) and supported by Creative New Zealand, matches four students aged between 15 to 18 with a well-known  New Zealand writer.

The programme was developed in 1999 with the aim of inspiring and developing young writers through the support of established authors.

Lee Murray, an NZSA mentor

Lee Murray, an NZSA mentor

NZSA operations manager Claire Hill says the mentorships are a good way for an emerging writer to hone their skills.

“Someone can be quite a good writer, but a mentorship helps give a young writer the structure and the advice or discipline that they need to write.”

The mentorships are designed to be flexible and based on an individual’s needs, with students matched to a mentor best-suited to their style and genre of work.

Each mentor provides nine hours of their time, spread out over the course of terms 2 and 3, to provide advice and feedback to students working on a project of their own choice.

“It’s partly set up between the student and the mentor, so the student will come in saying what they’re doing and what they want to achieve from the mentorship and then there is a discussion between the student and the mentor,” says Claire.

The student will then submit a whole or partial piece of writing, depending on what has been agreed between the parties, for the mentor to provide feedback.

Now in its 19th year, the programme increased the number of mentorships offered from three to four last year.

Young Picton writer Aislinn Roodt was partnered with award-winning novelist Shirley Corlett for her 2017 mentorship and says the programme taught her to write both richly and concisely.

“I have gained a deeper understanding of the principles used by writers and of the English language,” Roodt says.

“I learned far more than I expected from this mentorship.”

The 2018 list of available mentors names almost 30 authors from across the country.

One of the 2018 mentors is author Lee Murray, who first came to the programme as a mentee.

She was paired with New Zealand writer Graeme Lay and describes the experience as “life-changing”.

“My mentorship with Graeme wound up almost a decade ago and yet from time to time I still approach him for advice and he’s always kind enough to reply. He’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Her advice for would-be writers?

“An opportunity to work with a mentor? Don’t hesitate.”

More information and applications for the 2018 programme(external link) 

Applications close on 5 April 2018.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 09:03am, 12 March 2018

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