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Young Kiwi writers take home big prize

Young Kiwi writers get creative to take home top prize

Contrasting and insightful story angles have prevailed in this year's Nestlé Write Around New Zealand: Nestlé Tuhi Amio Whenua creative writing programme and the calibre of entries was so high the judges awarded an extra winner.

Television presenters Suzy Cato and Matai Smith with Nestlé CEO Gary Tickle (centre) and national winners (from left) Te Kawana Mohi, Alisha Tyson and Kathryn Bryant.

Kathryn Bryant (year 7), Alisha Tyson (year 8) and Te Kawana Mohi (year 8) were named overall winners, out of 32 finalists, at a special ceremony in Auckland yesterday.

Children's television presenters Suzy Cato and Matai Smith read the winning stories to an enthusiastic audience of friends and family. Award-winning New Zealand children's author Tessa Duder - a big supporter of the programme - also attended the presentation.

Kathryn Bryant from Upper Hutt in Wellington won the year 7 award with her cleverly crafted 'Memories'. The Maidstone Intermediate student's story is of an elderly woman reflecting on happy memories and dreaming of the days when she was youthful and in love.

Also from Wellington, joint year 8 winner Alisha Tyson's story is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Raroa Intermediate student's piece titled 'Heroine' tells of a young woman's inner struggle to be accepted and describes how the actions of others can shatter a person's spirit.

Te Kawana Mohi's efforts have not only seen her take away joint first place in year 8 but also saw her win the top award in the Te Reo section for her story titled 'Te Haerenga ki Ruatoki'. Te Kawana, who attends Rotorua's Te Kura o Te Koutu, crafted a beautiful tale about an urban boy's journey to his Ruatoki roots while recounting stories imparted to him by his grandfather.

Nestlé Write Around New Zealand: Nestlé Tuhi Amio Whenua is a national creative writing competition for students in years 7 and 8 which is now in its fifth year. The competition is run through public libraries around New Zealand.

National coordinator Kaye Lally, of Auckland City Libraries, says the level of creativity demonstrated by these young Kiwi scribes is inspiring.

"We are delighted with the outstanding level of interest and the high standard of stories. The judges had such a difficult job and simply could not choose between the two amazing year 8 stories."

This year's programme stands out not only for the high calibre of stories but also for the exceptional number of entries received. This makes the finalists' and winners' achievements even more significant. More than 14,000 stories were written by New Zealand children in 2005, compared to around 12,000 in 2004 - an increase of 14 per cent.

Maurice Gunnell, Nestlé New Zealand's Manager Corporate Services, says the national presentation is a really special day for the young writers and their families and Nestlé is pleased to bring them to Auckland to celebrate their success. This year they come from Tapanui in the south, from little Atititi school in Taranaki, from Opotiki, Pahiatua and from small and large cities all over the country.

"It's a great celebration of creativity and literacy amongst our young students. The encouragement of their families and the work of so many inspirational teachers all around the country is great to see."

The 32 finalists have already received $500 worth of New Zealand books for their school library and a backpack of Nestlé goodies for winning their regional writing event in October.

All national finalists also receive a collection of great Kiwi books for themselves at the national presentation. Kathryn, Alisha and Te Kawana win a computer package for taking the overall prize in their year.

Nestlé Write Around New Zealand: Nestle Tuhi Amio Whenua is a Nestlé-funded community programme coordinated by Auckland City Libraries and supported by public libraries around New Zealand.

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