2019 Smart Alex Creative Writing Competition for Secondary School Students

Student competitions and scholarships

Posted: 08 March 2019
Notice reference #: 1H9rtG

For a second year, the Friends of the Turnbull Library are running the Smart Alex creative writing competition. The aim is to celebrate the centenary of Alexander Turnbull and his remarkable legacy.

Secondary students and secondary home-educated students in New Zealand and the South Pacific are invited to respond to or interpret an image from the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library and produce either:

  • A piece of creative writing
  • An illustrated graphic story, or
  • A written song/waiata.

 Entries can be in English or te reo Māori.

This year’s theme is Tuia Encounters 250, which acknowledges 250 years since the beginning of sustained onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans in Aotearoa New Zealand. The competition invites creative responses that explore themes of cross-cultural encounters, dual heritage/shared future, whakapapa, and identity.


The Friends of the Turnbull Library are offering a total of $3,000 in prizes across 2 age groups:

  • Y9–10 — the winner receives $600 cash and the runner-up receives $300 cash. The winner's school library receives a $150 book token
  • Y11–13 — the winner receives $800 cash and the runner-up receives $400 cash. The winner's school library receives a $150 book token.

As well, up to 12 students with highly commended entries will receive a certificate and a $50 book token.

Encourage your students to enter now

The competition opened 4 March, and final entries must be received no later than 5pm, Sunday 21 July.

Winners and highly commended entries will be announced Thursday 19 September.

The official entry form and competition details are available on the Friends of the Turnbull Library website.

The National Library Services to Schools website has posters to download to help promote the competition, along with tips for finding images, and ideas to help kick-start your students’ creativity.

Further information

Contact: Kate Fortune, Friends of the Turnbull Library, Jo Buchan, National Library

 Kate Fortune (021) 109 4001, Jo Buchan (09) 365 8850