Short story competition winners announced

What happened to the baby polar bear lantern? It was a conundrum that perplexed Foundation staff at the 2016 Auckland Lantern Festival. For two days the bear's whereabouts were unknown until it mysteriously reappeared at Orewa Police Station following an all-bulletins alert and extensive media coverage.
A photo of the arctic scene from the Auckland Lantern Festival, including the baby polar bear lantern

The missing baby bear

So, where was the polar bear during these two days and what did it get up to - that was the challenge the Foundation set New Zealand school students for a short-story competition, held to coincide with Lunar New Year and the Auckland Lantern Festival (which was sadly cancelled).

We received numerous entries from throughout New Zealand, and it was a difficult task picking the winners, but after much consideration, deliberation and some contention, three winners were chosen. 

The judges noted how impressed they were with the calibre of the entries, saying, "The stories took us on adventures across oceans, into space and around familiar sights in Auckland. The use of words to build pictures of the sights, sounds and smells the baby bear encountered was engaging and added to our experiences as readers." 

The winners are:  

Year 5-6 category

1st: Bill Kelly, Year 6, from Brooklyn Primary School, Wellington

Story: Seven Pigs, a Tiger, and the little Polar Bear

Bill Kelly

Bill Kelly


Bill says, “My story was inspired by one of my teachers, Miss Lim, because she has taught us about her culture, the Chinese New Year and the animals of the zodiac”.   

Judges comment: "Bill cleverly ties animals from the Chinese Zodiac into his high-tension, action-packed adventure. His humourous story finishes with a thoughtful message where the warring factions put their dispute aside and the baby polar bear accepts her role at the Lantern Festival."

Year 7-8 category

1st: Elise Burling, Year 7, Oropi School

Story: Tiny Polar Bear, Huge Adventure

Elise Burling

Elise Burling

Judges comment: "Elise builds her plot around the baby bear's need to explore the wider world, against her mother's wishes. Her magical adventure includes the use of traditional Chinese mythical creatures to deliver key lines." 

Year 9-13  category

1st   Crystal Chan, Year 10, Glendowie College

Judges comment: "Crystal uses beautiful imagery to tell her magical and heart-warming tale, which uses an old festival myth to create a platform for the baby polar bear's adventure. She impressively submitted her story in both English and Chinese."

Crystal's Chinese teacher, Tantan Xu, says she thought the competition was a great way to engage her students to explore Chinese traditional festivals and culture and provided an opportunity for students develop critical thinking skills to become culturally responsive global citizens. 

"I read the missing polar bear lantern news to students, then we brainstormed why it went missing, what adventures the baby bear might have had before it was found," she says.  

"In the end, students were guided to do research about cultural differences, discussed the reasons for cultural diversity and the consequences if there is only one culture in the world."

A big congratulations to the winners and all those who took part. The three winning entries and the two runners up for each category will receive prizes.