Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Landfall essay competition joint winners

Landfall essay competition joint winners profound and persuasive

Wellington writer Tobias Buck and London based New Zealand writer Nina Mingya Powles are the joint winners of the 2019 Landfall Essay Prize.

Mr Buck’s winning entry, ‘Exit. Stage Left.’, deals with issues of prejudice and bias from the perspective of a man who ‘is the colour of cotton candy or pink marshmallows’, whose hair is ‘definitely platinum’.

His essay is full of persuasive visual detail, and an ear for the unpleasant reverberations of everyday speech, says competition judge and Landfall editor Emma Neale. Ms Neale says she admires the way the essay effortlessly displays touches of history, pop culture and general knowledge in its discussion of identity.

Nina Mingya Powles’ essay, ‘Tender Gardens’, combines both profound, even urgent subject matter with an agility of style, says Ms Neale. The essay allows for pleasure and beauty, yet also tightens the screws on recognition of various humanitarian or philosophical issues such as racial prejudice, cultural identity and how to make a home in a foreign land.

In third place is Sarah Harpur’s essay ‘Dead Dads Club’. Placed fourth equal are Joan Fleming’s ‘Write First, Apologise Later’ and ‘The Art and Adventure of Subsistence’ by Jillian Sullivan.

Highly Commended essayists are Ingrid Horrocks (‘Where We Swim’); Himali McInnes (‘The Place’) and Derek Schulz (‘Kiwi Made’). Commended essayists are Justine Jungersen-Smith (‘Half Sugar Half Sand’) and Amy Brown (‘To Hold in the Palm of the Hand’).

Tobias Buck and Nina Powles each receive $1500 and a year’s subscription to Landfall. The winning entries will be published in Landfall 238, available in November. Landfall is published by Otago University Press. Some 64 anonymous entries were received in this year’s competition, down on last year’s 91.

For more information about the Landfall Essay Prize and past winners, go to

The winners

Born in 1978 and currently living in Hawke’s Bay, Tobias Buck studied art history and creative writing, under Gregory O’Brien, and completed post-graduate degrees in the US and in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh.
He worked in digital media and publishing in London and, alongside owner Tilly Lloyd recently helped project-manage the redesign of Unity Books in Wellington. He was the last recipient of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award for his story ‘Islands in the Stream’ and in 2018 was Highly Commended for his essay ‘Aquae Populus’.

Nina Mingya Powles is a poet and writer of mixed Malaysian-Chinese heritage, born in Wellington and currently living in London. Her recent publications include Luminescent (Seraph Press, 2017) and field notes on a downpour (If A Leaf Falls, 2018). She is a co-editor of Tupuranga journal, poetry editor of The Shanghai Literary Review, and founder of Bitter Melon


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: 'the everrumble' by Michelle Elvy

This is Zettie’s tale from her birth date in 1965 through to her ‘passing’ at the age of 105. Yet, Zettie’s tale is our own tale, as humans still all-too-often hell-bent on destroying our environment and therefore our fellow creatures – and thus – symbiotically and inevitably – ourselves. More>>

Tuia 250: Endeavour Arrives At Tūranganui-A-Kiwa

The co-chair for Tuia 250 national commemorations says it's not a bad thing if people want to express their views, as a replica of Captain Cook's Endeavour is today set to make its way into Tūranganui-a-Kiwa... Local iwi oppose the ship's visit and have refused to do a pōhiri. More>>


On 7–19 October: NZ Improv Fest Turns (It Up To) Eleven

The New Zealand Improv Festival (NZIF) is celebrating eleven years by going 110%; this national festival has increased to two weeks of improvisation with guests from all over the world. More>>


NZ On Air: $12 Million For Stimulating Content For Tamariki

New Zealand tamariki have much to be excited about, with just under $12.5 million in funding confirmed for a raft of new screen and music content including a new daily kids quiz show. More>>


Master Storyteller: Author Jack Lasenby Remembered

Jack Lasenby died on Friday, aged 88. He was the author of children's books, novels, and short stories. He was the winner of numerous awards, including the Prime Minister's award for Literary Achievement in 2014. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland