Shanghai tale wins Asia New Zealand Foundation Short Story Competition

31 October 2014

Auckland writer Heidi North-Bailey has won the Asia New Zealand Foundation's 20th Anniversary short story competition with a love story set in Shanghai.

North-Bailey’s story was chosen from more than 300 entries. She was presented with her prize at the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Auckland last night [Thursday October 30] for her story When I realised it was you.

She won flights and accommodation for two to a destination in Asia, courtesy of Air New Zealand. She is now trying to decide between flying to Bali – which she first visited with her mother as an 11-year-old – or making her first visit to Tokyo.

North-Bailey moved to China at the age of 23 to teach English and drama. “It was an incredible, challenging and rewarding year. It's such an evocative place and I find myself wanting to write about my time there.”

She won an international poetry award in 2007 and is now refining her first poetry collection for publication, while working on short stories. She juggles writing with the care of her young baby. “It's not easy writing with a five-month-old, but winning this has given me the determination to keep chipping away at the stories I want to write.  It may take me longer, but having a baby does help focus your time in the brief snatches you get!”

The awards were judged by Mark Broatch, books and culture editor at the New Zealand Listener, and Adrienne Jansen, author and tutor in creative writing at Whitireia Polytechnic.

Broatch said of North-Bailey’s story: “It has an evocative and impressionistic completeness, and the author appears to have spent time honing its sentences, which every successful short story writer must do.”

Entries were required to focus on a connection between New Zealand and Asia and had to contain the words "Air New Zealand", "serendipity" and "Asia".

The three other finalists were:

  • Mary Elsmore-Neilson, Mana
  • Nandini Ghosh, Garden of Eden Park
  • Bronwyn Watkins, Singing Japan

Two other stories were highly commended by Asia New Zealand Foundation staff for conveying links between Asia and New Zealand.

  • Bobby Shen, Sum’s Shop
  • Glenda Kane, Milk

The six stories will be published on the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s website.

Asia New Zealand Foundation director of culture Jennifer King said the Foundation received more than 300 entries from around New Zealand. “It was just remarkable the range of ideas that came out. Many of the stories touched on relationships, often romantic. We also received many contributions from Asian immigrants who wrote of their experiences coming here.

“I was very impressed by the quality - I think New Zealand has a huge amount of talent out there.”

She thanked Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Listener for their generous support of the competition. 

Air New Zealand’s community relationship manager Knight Hou said the airline was proud to support the competition.

“Air New Zealand recently announced an alliance with Singapore Airlines and this partnership will further extend our network, giving us access to more than 50 destinations across Southeast Asia and beyond. We look forward to continuing our work with Asia New Zealand Foundation to help promote and facilitate New Zealand’s understanding and engagement with Asia.”

For more information, please contact:

Rebecca Palmer
Asia New Zealand Foundation media adviser
027 226 8707
rpalmer@asianz.org.nz