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National Youth Writing Competition Winners!

November 10, 2007

Students from Auckland, Wellington and Timaru scoop prizes at Secondary School National Writing Competition – Talk with Me!

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(Left) Kate Brooks, 17 years, Roncalli College, Timaru (centre) Juliette Varuhas, 14 years, Wellington Girls' College (right) The overall winner, eighteen-year old Nosia Fogogo


Talk with Me! Sharing the Voices of Refugees
Award Ceremony, November 10, 4.30pm- 6.30pm TheNewDowse, Wellington

The Petone Settlers Museum, in association with the Department of Labour and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will be announcing the winners of this year’s National Writing Competition at an Award Ceremony at TheNewDowse this Saturday.

The three secondary school winners from Wellington, Timaru and Auckland were chosen from over 100 entrants who submitted either a poem, rap, essay or an article about the refugee experience of young people.

The overall winner, eighteen-year old Nosia Fogogo, wrote a deeply personal story about her life as a refugee from Burundi, Africa titled “Happiness is Ubiquitous”.

Fogogo’s winning piece was selected by the judging panel Judi Altinkaya, Director, Settlement Division, Department of Labour, the editor of the Hutt News Simon Edwards and The Petone Settlers Museum’s Director Tim Walker.

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All three judges praised the piece for the way it confronted the reader on several levels.

““The piece really made you walk in her shoes. The powerful narrative drew you in and the use of verse alternating with prose allowed for a very visceral sense of experience. We were all impressed with the degree of the reflection, her original use of language and her unique choice of composition. It was a unanimous decision,” says the Director of the Petone Settlers Museum, Tim Walker.

First launched in 2006, to coincide with the Petone Settlers Museum’s major exhibition Walk with Me: the Refugee Experience in New Zealand, this annual writing competition seeks to raise awareness among young people about refugees living in New Zealand.

“It’s important that young New Zealanders can reflect on their own experience either as refugees or as classmates of refugees” says Judi Altinkaya, Director of the Department of Labour’s Settlement Division. “Settlement is a two way process and this competition provides an important opportunity through which learning about and reflecting on the experiences of refugee newcomers can occur.”

Excerpt from Fogogo’s winning piece

I am just a strong girl
Who came from a long way
Who has much to say and much to see
Who has lots to talk about the painful and the powerful
I am not the history maker
But I am the storyteller
I will tell you what I think
You need to know
I will let you hear the voice of
The real refugee.

During the year 2006-2007, over a third of the refugees entering New Zealand were under the age of 18 (260 of the 697 refugees who entered).

Talk with Me Award Ceremony: Saturday, November 10, TheNewDowse 4.30pm – 6.30pm.


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