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BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards winners announced

Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award winners: Susan Wylie, Kerry Challinor and Vita Bryant

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13 October 2005

Media release

Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Awards winners announced

The winners of this year’s Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Awards faced a far tougher field than many before them.

Susan Wylie, Kerry Challinor and Vita Bryant took the three awards announced in Wellington tonight.

All three winners received cash prizes from the sponsor, Bank of New Zealand.

Now in their 56th year, the writers’ awards are proving increasingly popular with double the number of entries compared to last year.

The winners join a stellar list of previous recipients including the late Maurice Shadbolt, C K Stead, Vincent O’Sullivan and Keri Hulme.

‘This year has seen a groundswell of interest in the awards, which can only say our nation’s writing is in good heart. Bank of New Zealand is proud to be part of that. It is always gratifying to see the winners go on to bigger and better writing careers,’ says Bank of New Zealand general manager, marketing distribution and strategy, Andrew Whitechurch.

Hawke’s Bay resident Susan Wylie won the premier 2005 Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award for her story, Lolly. Ms Wylie won $10,000 in a tough competition which saw 530 entries - up by 35 percent on 2004. The relative newcomer to writing competed against published authors to take the award.

The judge for the Premier Award, Marilyn Duckworth, OBE says ’[Lolly] delighted me with its quirky imagery and brazen appeal to the senses... Lolly’s story never stands still; it is a hymn to movement and life…’

Ms Wylie began writing fiction in 1996 after completing a creative writing course at the Eastern Institute of Technology. The winner of the Florence Keene short story competition in 1999 and the Hawke’s Bay Today Short Story Competition twice (2001, 2002) says the idea for her story came to her eventually after the name Lolly floated around the house on an index card.

Although she writes for a living – Ms Wylie is communications advisor at Hawke’s Bay Regional Council – she tries to turn her hand to writing creatively once a week.

‘My ambition is to become a good writer. Winning an award like this is huge confirmation for me, it’s making me rethink my priorities,’ says Susan.

The Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Novice Award winner, Kerry Challinor has never had her work published for payment, but she is no stranger to writing. Ms Challinor has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and a Ph.D in English Literature from the University of Washington (Seattle). Now living in West Auckland, she is an avid reader, and has written intermittently for decades.

Kerry Challinor competed with 666 other applicants – double the number of entries from the previous year - to win the Novice Award with her story, Commuting. She received $1,500.

Norman Bilbrough, Novice Category judge says Commuting is an affecting story, and one that is a pleasure to read. ‘Sentence by sentence it doesn’t miss a beat; it maintains a narrative tension, and intrigue from beginning to end….’

Wellington has wrestled the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Young Writer’s Award off Auckland with Onslow College’s Vita Bryant winning this year’s award. Epsom Girls’ Grammar and McLean’s College had won this category for several years previously.

Ms Bryant, in year 13 at the college, wrote her winning story Down and Out in Paris and Kensington Gardens for an English creative writing assessment. From a family of writers (Vita’s grandparents, parents and uncle are all trained journalists) she was raised in a family with a love of reading and writing.

Her efforts earned the highest praise from the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Young Writers’ category judge, Joy Cowley who says ‘I believe that her [Vita’s] future success is assured. Her story is beautifully written, breathing promise of exquisite talent.’

Vita says a number of her teachers have played an important part in encouraging her to write, and she has been inspired by several New Zealand authors including Fiona Kidman and Keri Hulme. She hopes to study Law, English and Music composition at Victoria University next year.

Both Ms Bryant and her school won $1,500 in the competition which, like the Novice category doubled in submissions (280) compared to 2004.

Bank of New Zealand has sponsored the awards - which aim to foster the country’s literature - since they were established in 1959. Katherine Mansfield’s father, Sir Harold Beauchamp, was a director of Bank of New Zealand, a position he held for 38 years. He was also the chairman of the board for 17 years.

The Awards were announced by Linda Clark at a ceremony at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.


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