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About the competition

In 1997 Landfall celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, then editor Chris Price launched the Landfall Essay Competition, sponsored by Otago University Press. From 2009, the competition has been an annual award.

The purpose of the competition remains as it was at the outset: to encourage New Zealand writers to think aloud about New Zealand culture, and to revive and sustain the tradition of vivid, contentious and creative essay writing in this country – as embodied in the non-fiction of early Landfall contributors such as Bill Pearson, in the essays of past winners of this competition, and in the essays the journal continues to publish.

  • Essays should not exceed 4000 words.
  • The 2023 competition will be judged by the Landfall editor.
  • The winner is announced and published in each November issue of Landfall.
  • The winner receives $3000 and a year's subscription to Landfall.
  • Entries for the 2024 Landfall Essay Competition must be received by 31 July 2024.

Conditions of entry

  1. Essays will be fully developed, independent works and will be no more than 4000 words long.
  2. Essays will be on a topic of the author's choosing.
  3. Essays will not have been published elsewhere.
  4. Writers will be New Zealand citizens or New Zealand permanent residents.
  5. One entry per person will be accepted.
  6. The judge will assess the merits of the essays and reserve the right not to award a prize. No correspondence with the judge will be entered into.
  7. Landfall reserves the right to publish the winning entry, and other shortlisted entries, at the editor's discretion.
  8. It is a condition of the competition that the winning writer's name and photograph may be used by Landfall for publicity purposes.

How to enter

    • Email your essay as a Word or .rtf file to with 'Landfall Essay Competition' in the subject line. Your name should NOT appear on the essay itself.
    • Include your name, address and telephone number in the body of the email.

Past winners and short-listed authors

2022: Tina Makereti. 2nd: Maggie Sturgess.
Highly commended: Nadine Hura, Claire Mabey, Gill James. Commended: Michael Moore-Jones, Charlotte Doyle, Jessica Ducey, Maddie Ballard.

2021: Andrew Dean. 2nd: Claire Mabey. 3rd: Susan Wardell.
Highly commended: Norman Franke, Susanna Elliffe. Commended: Ethan Te Ora, Alexis O'Connell, Jayne Costelloe, Bonnie Etherington.

2020: A.M. McKinnon. 2nd: Tan Tuck Ming. 3rd equal: Anna Blair and Siobhan Harvey.
Highly commended: Sarah Barnett, Shelley Burne-Field, Anna Knox, Una Cruickshank.

2019: Joint first prize awarded to Tobias Buck and Nina Mingya Powles. 3rd: Sarah Harpur. 4th equal: Joan Fleming and Jillian Sullivan.
Highly commended: Ingrid Horrocks, Himali McInnes and Derek Schulz.

2018: Alice Miller. 2nd: Susan Wardell. 3rd: Sam Keenan.

2017: Joint first prize awarded to Laurence Fearnley (Dunedin) and Alie Benge (Wellington). Shortlisted: Ingrid Horrocks, Lynley Edmeades, Sue Wootton, Kate Camp and Mark Houlahan.

2016: Airini Beautrais. 2nd: Michalia Arathimos. 3rd: Carolyn Cossey

2015: Tracey Slaughter. 2nd: Phil Braithwaite. 3rd: Louise Wallace. Highly commended: Therese Lloyd

2014: Diana Bridge. Runners-up: Sarah Bainbridge, Simon Thomas and Scott Hamilton

2013: Tim Corballis. Runners-up: Eva Ng and Maggie Rainey-Smith

2012: Elizabeth Smither. Runners-up: Majella Cullinane and Jane Williamson

2011: Philip Armstrong. Runner-up: Siobhan Harvey. Commended: Ruth Nichol, Raewyn Alexander and Natalie Kershaw

2010: Ian Wedde

2009: Ashleigh Young

2008: Alice Miller, Kirsten Warner

2006: Anna Sanderson

2004: Martin Edmond and Tze Ming Mok

2002: Patrick Evans and Kapka Kassabova

1999: C.K. Stead and Peter Wells

1997: Gregory O'Brien and Joris de Bres

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