Congratulations to the successful recipients of the 2023 Contestable Fund Grants, with a total of $75,000 granted.
We are excited to announce the successful recipients in this year's round of Contestable Fund Grants. Applications were invited for projects that had clearly defined and measurable outcomes that align with the Cultural Fund's objectives.
The Contestable Fund is part of CLNZ’s Cultural Fund, which derives revenue from CLNZ’s licensing activity in New Zealand. The Cultural Fund supports people and projects that encourage the development of current and future writers, publishers and educators, to help grow the sector.
The diverse range of applications this year demonstrates the current breadth of publishing and writing projects from communities all over Aotearoa.
There were a total of 59 applications received, covering a wide range of topics and subjects, with funding contributions made towards the following 15 projects, totalling $75,000.
Congratulations to the following recipients:
- Moa Press
Publishing project: Airana Ngarewa short story collection (title TBC) – granted $3500
From the bestselling author of The Bone Tree comes a lively and playful bilingual collection of stories about growing up in Patea. Interlinked and full of recurring characters, these stories are about getting up to no good – sneaking away during cross country or doing bombs while the lifeguard isn't looking. Aimed at intermediate te reo Māori learners, this collection is designed to bridge a gap between children's books in te reo and full-length literary works.
- Anne Bennett-Eustace
Writing project: Arthurs Memoirs and Legacy – granted $6000
This project is two-fold. The first part chronicles the life of Arthur Eustace, an educator, mentor and pioneer of athletics coach education. The second part is a guide to what it means to be a good leader, combining Arthur's insights from the adversities he overcame throughout his life and those of other prominent New Zealanders. This book explores how we might make the most of our talents, fulfil our potential and inspire one another.
- Drama NZ Mahi Whakaari o Aotearoa
Writing and publishing project: Resources for drama in education – granted $8000
Drama New Zealand is the national body that represents and advocates on behalf of drama teachers, academics, applied theatre workers and theatre-in-education practitioners at national and international forums and in education policy-making. This funding supports the production of four new resources linked to the New Zealand curriculum refresh, Te Mātaiaho, and uses texts honouring their commitment to ākonga and Kaiako.
- New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society Incorporated
Writing and publishing project: New Zealand Railways at Night – granted $5,000
New Zealand Railways At Night is a historically significant account of life after dark when most New Zealanders chose trains as their primary mode of transport. Redressing the void in our written history, it details the night railway experienced by the travelling public and suffered by the railway shift worker through the lenses of professional and amateur photographers.
- One Tree House Limited
Publishing project: Hongi's Hīkoi: A Trio of Travellers - two graphic novels – granted $10,000
This grant supports the publishing of two novels, Hongi's Hīkoi: A Trio of Travellers and Te Hīkoi A Hongi: Tokotoru Rātou. Written in both English and te reo Māori, these semi-graphic novels introduce readers to the epic journey of Hongi Hika in the 1800s. These books result from over a decade of in-depth study by the author and include previously unpublished documents (from the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle), making them a valuable teaching resource in line with the new history curriculum.
- Forest & Bird
Writing project: Bird of the Year: New Zealand's love affair with native birds – granted $5000
Bird of the Year: New Zealanders' love affair with native birds will be a richly illustrated compendium of native manu that have featured in Forest & Bird's world-famous Bird of the Year contest. Written by award-winning science writer Ellen Rykers, the book will document the competition's 20-year history—including voting scandals, controversies and unlikely winners—as well as the passionate people behind the birds.
- Small Press Fest
Literacy Festival: Small Press Fest – granted $2500
Small Press Fest brings together small presses and independent publishers from across the motu to Ōtepoti for three days of celebrations, workshops, talks, readings, and panel discussions. It is the first of its kind to focus on writers, creators, designers, photographers, artists, and publishers who work outside of the conventional publishing industry to open doors for conversation and collaboration.
- Mairātea Mohi, Craccum Magazine
Writing and publishing project: Craccum Magazine – granted $5000
For over nearly a century, Craccum Magazine has strived to mirror the dynamic landscape of the university. In 2021, they introduced their first Te Ao Māori editor. This grant partly supports an inaugural Pasifika editor, continuing their commitment to diversity and inclusion. It also partly supports the production of the fourth issue of Taumata Rau, a yearly publication led and executed by Māori and Pasifika students.
- Mani Malaeulu, Empowerment Training Ltd
Writing and publishing project: Dear Uso – granted $7000
The Dear Uso book project promotes Pacific wellbeing and resilience through storytelling. It will result in the publication of the prequel to the award-winning young adult title, Tama Sāmoa (2021), co-authored by Mani Malaeulu. As a result of the need for more stories for and by Pasifika men and the success of Tama Sāmoa and the Tama Pasifika Wellbeing Journal (2023), Dear Uso aims to support Pacific voices, real life lessons and experiences of tama Pasifika in Aotearoa.
- Pacific Islanders in Publishing
Publishing project: Pacific Islanders in Publishing – granted $4000
Pacific Islanders in Publishing is a website database that promotes Pacific Islanders of Aotearoa and Oceania in the publishing industry. In addition to featuring Pacific Islander authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals, the website database includes resources for young creatives looking to break into publishing, recent Pacific Islander book releases, book influencers, independent presses, and bookstores. This grant supports the upkeep of this resource, production of workshops and translation costs.
- Akaroa Community Arts Council (ACAC)
Writing and publishing project: Readers and Writers Akaroa fellowships – granted $5000
The Akaroa Community Arts Council is a small charitable trust committed to building literary capital and providing space for creative expression. In 2023, they hosted their inaugural festival, Readers and Writers Akaroa (RAWA). Recognising the financial difficulties faced by many writers, this grant supports a fellowship that enables ten writers to attend RAWA 2024, where they'll have access to skills-based workshops that will inspire and enhance their writing expertise and provide greater knowledge about potential publishing pathways.
- Oratia Media
Publishing project: New Zealand Place Names book and online collaboration – granted $4500
This project shapes New Zealand Gazetteer online information into a new book called New Zealand Place Names (publishing 2025) while updating the Gazetteer and our own database. The mahi is based on existing cooperation between the authors and the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa. In 2024, Oratia's team will reimport information for 1000 key place names for the book, undertake extensive editing and review of content in English and te reo Māori, and begin the publishing process including design.
- Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival
Literacy Festival: Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival podcasts (2023) – granted $2490
The Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival is a celebration of writers, readers, ideas and all things literature. The festival moves as a current, bringing ideas in and sending others on a voyage beyond. This grant supports the production of a podcast series that records some of these encounters so that their ripples might ebb and flow far into the future.
- Shana Chandra
Writing and Publishing project: Banjara – granted $2000
Shana Chandra is a writer from Aotearoa of Indo-Fijian and Girmit descent. Banjara is her debut novel, a fictional re-telling of her ancestor's journey from India to Fiji as an indentured labourer and their descendant's quest to reckon with their heritage.
- Beyond Reality Media
Writing and Publishing project: The Irrepressible Duncans Universe – granted $5000
The grant supports the presence of The Beyond Reality Media team at San Diego Comic-Con 2024. Bringing a slice of Aotearoa to the world stage, they'll present comics from The Irrepressible Duncans Universe, a collection of eight titles including comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, romance and bromance. These works feature the Inspiration Duncans, Darwin Faeries and the Time Travelling Tourist and are an original take on the end of the world and history through dark and light humour.
Special thanks to our selection panel of Tony Fisk, Abby Aitcheson, Anne de Latour and Kim Harris, who made the following comments about this year’s diverse range of applications:
“It was exciting for the panel to see the high level of creativity and talent, which was certainly an added challenge for our decision-making process.” - Anne de Latour
“I was particularly pleased to see so many initiatives that sit decidedly outside of traditional, mainstream publishing – there’s room in this industry for more alternative, innovative ideas that uplift, empower, and amplify. It is a privilege to be on this panel and to gain some insight into the way Aotearoa publishing continues to evolve.” – Abby Aitcheson
“I was humbled to be asked to serve on this year’s panel, but it was not an easy feat trying to narrow down a field of applications that represented people's passions, dreams and taonga. Everyone's kaupapa was beautiful, and I thank each creative for sharing their treasure with us.” – Kim Harris
“This year's applicants were really creative, diverse and of a very high standard which made the judging really challenging and enjoyable.” – Tony Fisk
Images supplied courtesy of the successful recipients of our 2023 Contestable Fund Grants. Top row, left to right: Anne Bennett-Eustace; Drama New Zealand Mahi Whakaari o Aotearoa; Forest & Bird, Ellen Rykers; Shana Chandra. Second row left to right: Beyond Reality Media; Small Press Fest; Pacific Islanders in Publishing; Oratia Media, Peter Dowling. Third row left to right: Moa Press, Airana Ngarewa; Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival; New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society Incorporated; One Tree House Limited, Hongi’s Hīkoi: A Trio of Travellers. Fourth row left to right: Akaroa Community Arts Council (ACAC); Mani Malaeulu, Empowerment Training Ltd; Mairātea Mohi, Craccum Magazine.