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Hariap! Short story prize closes in 3 weeks


NOOSA - The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded each year for the best piece of unpublished short fiction of 2,000–5,000 words.

The closing date is Sunday 1 November (see below for more information and entry form).

So it’s time to take one of your unpublished short stories out of the file or get the keyboard smoking with your entry in the prize.

Regional winners each receive £2,500 (K11,300) and the overall winner receives £5,000 (K22,600).

Winning entries will also be provided with a publishing opportunity.

The competition is free to enter and open to any citizen of a Commonwealth country aged 18 and over.

Papua New Guinean writers have entered in the past. The late Francis Nii entered a few times and it has been remarked that “his stories were always interesting and firmly rooted in the social context of PNG”.

So please do enter your story and spread the word to other writers in PNG and the Pacific region.

For further information, visit:

For the entry form, visit:


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Baka Bina

I wrote to the Commonwealth Writers below asking that the Pacific Island competitors be separated from Australia and New Zealand competitors and got the following response from the Senior Program officer, Ms Emma D'costa.

Even with this assurance from Ms D'costa, I still get the feeling that they will still put PNG contributions with the same scrutiny and aiglas when reading Pacific work with Australia and New Zealand work.

The comparison to Trinidad is a poor choice incomparable to our situation viz a viz population, school infrastructure and the delivery of the English languages in schools..

Having said that I would still encourage contributions from PNG.


Separate the Pacific Islands from Australia and New Zealand

Baka Bina to Foundation, Sep 7 2020, 9:36 AM

I would like to appeal to the organisers of the Competition to split the Oceania group and separate Australia and New Zealand from the rest of the Pacific Islands.

Australia and New Zealand are populated by English speakers and they have better fluency in English. Also they have established and resourced literature teaching and literature support.

For us in the Pacific, English at most times is a third or fourth language and literature does not get the support it needs. So we struggle to get our literature right.

To encourage us to contribute more to the competition, we would like to be screened in comparison to other pacific islanders and literature and not with Australia and New Zealand writers.

Besides we tell our stories differently and most of them are about our identities as Pacific Islanders.

Thank you

Baka Bina
Contributor to CP
Papua New Guinea

Commonwealth Writers to Baka Bina, Sep 8 2020, 2:14 AM

Dear Baka Bina

Thank you for your email and we understand your concern, particularly in regard to English being the third or fourth language for many writers from the Pacific islands.

Please be assured that your stories are looked at in the context of the Pacific Islands. The way the judging works is that the stories which go through to the judging panel are in the same ratio to the entries to the competition, ie, Australian stories would be judged against other Australian stories, PNG stories from other PNG stories, and so on.

This way, we maintain the balance of entries from countries and regions on the longlist which goes before the international judging panel.

Where the regional relationship comes into focus is when the judges are considering the regional winner for the prize, and then they will discuss stories from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands together.

And, as I'm sure you know, we have had regional winners from the islands - Mary Rokonadravu from Fiji in 2015 and Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa from Samoa in 2018. We also select judges who know the regional context - this year it is the Maori author Tina Makereti who edited the book of Maori and Pasifika writing Black Marks on the White Page with Witi Ihimaera.

We appreciate that Australia and New Zealand have a more developed literary infrastructure - indeed the same imbalance is true in all the five Commonwealth regions, eg, Trinidad has a more developed publishing industry, a thriving literary festival and workshops for writers and the smaller Caribbean islands have none of these.

We have therefore held a number of regional workshops to address this - one in Fiji in 2015 for the Pacific Islands, one in Barbados for the smaller Caribbean Islands, one in Zambia for countries in southern Africa and so on.

We hope to continue with these workshops, most likely online for the foreseeable future, and would like to explore either such a workshop for writers in PNG and other Pacific islands, or mentoring opportunities.

Meanwhile, we do hope you will continue to enter the prize, and to spread the word to other writers. We receive few entries and we are always keen to encourage writers from the islands to submit.

Best wishes


Emma​ D'Costa
Senior Programme Officer
Commonwealth Foundation
Marlborough House
Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5HX
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7747 6328
Mobile: +44 7776 997 902
Fax: +44 20 7004 3653

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