Class groups consist of one tutor and up to 12 students working on a range of forms. They run on Saturday mornings from 9.30am to 12.30pm for the first three terms of the year. The fourth term is untaught, letting students focus on preparing their portfolios and working with their mentor.
Tutors introduce students to a wide range of quality writing, and encourage them to explore different forms. Students are supported to pursue their own interests, from poetry, long and short-form fiction and creative non-fiction, to memoir, theatre script, screenplay, and hybrid forms.
Students become expert readers, learn to give and receive critique, and establish their own writing practice. They also hear from guest speakers and participate in workshops by established local and visiting writers. The course is a valuable way to connect with other writers and find opportunities to participate in the local writing community.
Each student is assigned a mentor to provide expert feedback on a small portion of their work.
Portfolios are optional. Each student may prepare a full or half portfolio representing their best work, as a requirement of graduation (along with regular class attendance). The portfolios are submitted in mid-October and assessed internally. Students receive written feedback on their portfolios after graduation.
Margaret Mahy Award
Each year, a shortlist of the best portfolios is sent for external assessment, and one outstanding portfolio is given the Margaret Mahy Award to acknowledge writing excellence. See a list of Margaret Mahy Award winners.
Applications open in mid-October each year. Applicants should enrol online or visit the Enrolment Centre at Hagley College. No payment is needed to enrol. A cover letter and short writing sample will then be requested. Entry to the course is competitive, and applications are due by the end of November. The outcome of all applications will be advised in December. Late applications may be considered until the start of Term 1, if all places have not been filled.
Māori Writers’ Scholarship
A Māori Writers’ Scholarship covering the full cost of a year of study is awarded annually to a new or returning student. See details of the scholarship.
Returning students are welcome and an application process isn’t usually necessary. Contact the Director to discuss options.
Term Dates 2023
Term 1 (7 weeks)
- 11, 18, 25 Feb
- 4, 11, 18 March (no class 25 March – NZSA Roadshow)
- 1 April
Term 2 (7 weeks)
- 29 April
- 6, 13, 20, 27 May
- 10, 17 June (no class 3rd June – King’s birthday weekend)
Term 3 (6 weeks)
- 22, 29 July
- 5, 12, 19, 26 August
(Note: there may be some date changes to fit around WORD festival events)
Portfolios due 14th October
Graduation 5th December