Press Release – University of Auckland
Sir James Wallace, renowned patron of the New Zealand arts through The Wallace Arts Trust, will present the first Sir James Wallace Masters in Creative Writing Award (2012), and two scholarships (2013), at an inaugural ceremony at The University of Auckland on 28 February.
“The University of Auckland’s Masters of Creative Writing is one of the country’s main programmes for nurturing New Zealand’s literary talent. I am pleased to support this with the Sir James Wallace Masters in Creative Writing Award and two scholarships, and look forward to seeing future graduates succeed as powerful literary voices both nationally and internationally,” says Sir James Wallace.
The awards aim to encourage developing writers with high potential into the Masters in Creative Writing, and to provide the opportunity for the top-performing student to spend the months needed to turn a course project into a publishable book.
Sir James Wallace, an alumnus of the Auckland Law School, will return to campus to present the first of the annual awards on Thursday 28 February: two fees scholarships to students with the best portfolios in the 2013 intake, and a $5,000 award for the student who submitted the best end-of-year work for the 2012 programme.
Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd sees these awards as a priceless support for unfolding literary talent and a welcome echo of the successes Auckland writers have had within the English Department, the University, and the city. He notes that we should expect Auckland to continue as the major centre for New Zealand writing, in view of Auckland’s share of the national population, its prominence in the local publishing industry, and the University’s ongoing sponsorship of the country’s foremost literary event, the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.
“We hope the Sir James Wallace awards will support emerging writers to continue the strong literary tradition of University of Auckland English graduates; one that runs from Allen Curnow, Maurice Gee and C. K. Stead, to novelist Emily Perkins, playwright Toa Fraser and poets Robert Sullivan and Glenn Colquhoun,” says Professor Boyd.
The University of Auckland’s English Department is well known for pioneering the teaching of New Zealand and Pacific literature. Major New Zealand writers in the Auckland English Department include such former members as Curnow, Stead, W. H. (Bill) Pearson, Michael Joseph, Kendrick Smithyman, Albert Wendt, Witi Ihimaera, and current writers and teachers like Michele Leggott, Murray Edmond, Lisa Samuels and Selina Tusitala Marsh.
The achievement of The University of Auckland’s Masters in Creative Writing programme is evident in recent graduates’ successes in the 2012 BNZ Literary Awards (former Katherine Mansfield Awards). Julie Helean was awarded winner, Nicole Tan received the Novice Writer Award, and Alex Jespersen gained Highly Commended in the short fiction section.