The 2016 Young Authors Challenge winners

Our 2016 Young Authors Challenge saw over a record 1615 students from Auckland and Northland enter the competition. From these we picked ten winning stories to go into this year’s storybook.

Ten talented young writers are set to become published authors, having won the opportunity to see their imaginative stories come to life in a very special storybook.

Supreme winner Selau Ifopo, had her story The Blind Beggar’s Gift chosen as the cover story.

web 2000px Barfoot - Selau Ifopo 02

Her story will be accompanied by nine other winners’ tales. Winners include:

  • Amy WangMurrays Bay Intermediate


  • Kelly ZhengMeadowbank Primary

Winner Kelly Zheng with Steve Hood, Carolyn Vernon and Rod MacNeil


  • Alayna FinlayElim Christian College
  • Caleb PalmerElim Christian College_AEL9482
  • Olive WhatmoughSt John’s School Mairangi Bay

Olive Whatmough 4

  • Loughlin MosenSt Mary’s Catholic School Papakura

Loughlin Mosen

  • Maia HollandRed Beach School


  • Kikka OkunoMassey Primary School


The winning stories were selected by a panel of eight judges, based on the development of characters and settings, originality and positive messages.   

Congratulations to all of our awesome winners and watch this space for the book to be released!

Announcing our 2016 finalists

Thank you to all of the entrants into this year’s competition. We had a huge 1615 students enter stories! Wow!

With so many stories it was hard for our judges to narrow it down. But without further ado, here are the 18 finalists. Congratulations to all of you – we will announce the winners after the July school holidays.

  • Dr. Cat’s Medicine by Abhinav Chawla (Bucklands Beach Intermediate)
  • The Ostrich that Wanted to Fly by Josephine Sim (Cockle Bay School)
  • Stanley Superstore Breakthrough by Joyce Sim (Cockle Bay School)
  • The Problem with Geronimo by Alayna Finlay (Elim Christian College)
  • The Very Special Worm by Caleb Palmer (Elim Christian College)
  • The Rocket House by Jimmy Austin (Hauraki School)
  • The Magical Book by Victoria Tenitskaya (Hauraki School)
  • The Blind Beggar’s Gift by Selau Ifopo (Home Educated)
  • The Girl Who Wouldn’t by Kikka Okuno (Massey Primary School)
  • Don’t Be Perfect by Yeaseo Im (Massey Primary School)
  • Pass the Message by Kelly Zheng (Meadowbank Primary School)
  • The Rainbow by Amy Wang (Murrays Bay Intermediate)
  • The Kiwi Who Wanted to Fly by Kiera Scott (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School)
  • Back on My Feet by Maia Holland (Red Beach School)
  • Poppy the Theatre Cat by Hayley Minturn (St Cuthbert’s College)
  • Mr Biblio’s Flying Library by Olive Whatmough (St John’s School Mairangi bay)
  • Sid’s Dream by Luca Evans (St Kentigern Boys School)
  • Gorillas Can’t Swim by Loughlin Mosen (St Mary’s Catholic School Papakura)

Good luck to all of you!

Watch this space…

The 2016 Young Authors Challenge is on its way. Keep your eyes peeled for more information and to enter. Entries officially open on 29 March, so come back then!

The book is now officially LAUNCHED!

Purchase your copy on our Shop page
On November 11, we rolled out the blue carpet for the launch of our 2015 storybook Home Sweet Home and Seven Hearty Tales. All proceeds from the night went towards the Starship Foundation. 
The Barfoot & Thompson Head Office auction rooms played host to 150 guests. Among those in attendance were the eight young authors of the storybook, and illustrators including rugby star Keven Mealamu, netballer Anna Harrison, and 7-year-old Kate Diprose. 
Kate, a current Starship patient who is undergoing Leukemia treatment, certainly stole the show. Her artwork for the story Spotty’s New Home fetched $1000 on live auction. Kate was absolutely thrilled when the winning bidder of her auction then went on to gift the art back to her as a keepsake. 
Artwork by Keven Mealamu, Tracey van Lent, Erika Pearce, Jun Arita and Anna Harrison was also available through live and silent auction with pieces going for up to $2000 each.
Through book sales and auctioned artwork, $20,000 was raised for the Starship Foundation.
Check out our video and photos of the night.
Last year's supreme winner Lucy Li with illustrator, Anna Harrison Peter Thompson with 7 year old illustrator Kate Diprose Storybook authors Emilia Finer, Antoine Ashman, Ben Davies, Caleb Palmer, Lucy Li, Nicole Daria, Jenna Hainsworth, Josephine Sim Tracey van Lent - live auction of Mr Cat Jun Arita - live auction of Birds Taking Flight         Keven Mealamu and Barfoot & Thompson directors with supreme winner, Josephine Sim 
Illustrator Keven Mealamu   Illustrators Kate Diprose and Hannah Jensen with author Caleb Palmer and Barfoot & Thompson directors Jenna Hainsworth with her illustrator, Erika Pearce  Artwork for live auction Auctioneer, Craig McNair   Home Sweet Home

Our 2015 book, Home Sweet Home and Seven Hearty Tales launches today – 11 November

Head to our shop page to purchase your copy today.


We are only two weeks away from our 2015 Storybook launch!

The excitement in the air is palpable…

Keep checking back here for more video updates.

There is no place like home. So where is home to our winners?

Listen to them talk about their favourite places and what home means to them.

What makes our winners LOVE to write? 

Find out in the video below!


A message to Starship

At our recent workshop, the winners each gave a message to the children of Starship. All proceeds from the book go towards the Starship Foundation. Hear their message on the video here:

Workshop with Maria Gill

The winners had a blast at our recent writers’ workshop with Maria Gill. Not only did they get to meet with Maria, but they also got to meet their illustrators too.

See some pictures from the event below. 

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Announcing our 2015 winners…

The judging has finished and we are so pleased to be able to announce eight winners for this year’s Barfoot & Thompson Young Authors Challenge. We had a huge response with nearly 1,100 entries! 

It was very difficult for our judges to pick just eight winners.

Congratulations to all of our winners – we look forward to seeing your stories published in this year’s storybook.

Supreme winner – Josephine Sim from Cockle Bay School

Josephine Sim - Overall Winner

Josephine’s story was judged the highest out of all the entries and will feature on this year’s book cover – great job Josephine.

Other 2015 winners:

Nicole Daria – Royal Oak Primary School


Lucy Li – St Dominic’s College

Lucy Li

Jenna Hainsworth – Beachlands School


Ben Davies – Patumahoe School


Caleb Palmer – Elim Christian College


Antoine Ashman – Glenbrook School

Antoine Ashman

Emilia Finer – Kerikeri High School


Thank you again to all of our 2015 entrants. We had a great time reading all of your stories and can’t wait to see what you come up with next year!


Entries are now CLOSED for 2015 and we’re going to be very busy reading your stories!

Keep an eye out here for more announcements… Until then, enjoy your writing.

Greetings young writers! I hope you’re all enjoying your writing. There is now only a month until the closing date for entries! That’s definitely long enough to write an incredible story.

In the meantime – here is an exciting video from Mr. Keven Mealamu, rugby star and talented author, to encourage you on your writing way.


Entries, entries, entries! There have been plenty of stories coming in and we’re SO EXCITED to read them all.

You’ve still got time left so make sure you finish up your story and start sending them through to us before the deadline on June 3rd. Watch Maria’s video below to get some ideas on how to finish off your story.

AND… Keep checking here next week for a brand new video from one of our 2015 illustrators – a local hometown hero who could be bringing YOUR story to life with pictures!


We just can’t get enough of Maria and all of her wonderful writing advice. In her latest video she talks about how to put the finishing touches on your story to make it really sparkle. Have a look at what she has to say:


Wondering how to get started on writing your masterpiece? Watch Maria’s latest video for some awesome tips to get you on your way and head to the Getting Started page for even more great ideas.

A big welcome to renowned children’s author, Maria Gill. Hear from her on the video below!


Watch this space!

Entries are now open for the 2015 Young Authors Challenge. Over the next week there will be more information put up onto this website, so keep your eyes and your ears open for details!

And most importantly… start writing!

We’re excited. Are you excited too!?!


Barfoot & Thompson Storybook Launch 2014

Watch the highlights from our storybook launch on 22nd October. Remember to purchase your copy from the online Shop


How very exciting!
Can anyone guess what is going through the printing presses below? Less than 48 hours until we launch the 2014 Storybook. It has been such an exciting journey and we cannot wait to share it all with you.

Storybook teaser images

Well,well,well! What do we have here…
The 2014 storybook has officially gone to print!  Email to be notified when you can purchase your copy.  Below is a sneak peak of this years illustrations, stay tuned for more exciting launch updates over the coming weeks.

Illustrator snippet


Young Authors Workshops

Author John Parker has now completed this year’s series of Young Authors Workshops with our winners.

The workshops are an interactive session where the winning authors can discuss their stories with John.  Structure, grammar, characters and plot outlines are discussed, and then light edits are applied to the winners stories – making them print ready!

Great work to our winners and Mr Parker. View some pictures from the Hauraki School workshop below.



Now that our six awesome winners have been chosen…we are proud as punch to announce our illustrators for the 2014 Starship Storybook!  

Keven Mealamu
Our national rugby hero and a name everyone knows! Keven plays for the Blues and the All Blacks and has illustrated our previous six books. We are lucky to have him on board for a seventh year. Remember to follow him on Twitter!   

Kiri Nathan
A very, very talented New Zealand fashion designer!  She has showcased at London Fashion week and designed drop dead outfits for the captain of the Northern Mystics netball team – Maria Tutaia! To see some of her work, visit here.

Tracey Van Lent
If there was ever a queen of Pinterest –Tracey is it! As well as being a well-established artist, she has over 15,000 followers of her Pinterest boards, with an amazing eye for creative and outstanding designs. Check out her stunning work here.

Hannah Jensen
Hannah is an artist about to show in the USA – wow! She currently teaches art at Northern Health School, so works very closely with Starship Foundation and all the children there, a cause very close to everyone at Barfoot & Thompson. See some of Hannah’s beautiful artwork here.

Dean Proudfoot
Dean is an award winning commercial illustrator, believing that art should be created to put smiles on audience’s faces! Living in Wellington, Deans based his bold and fun artwork on our country’s cultural past- with much of his work appearing in a number of prestigious private and corporate collections. For more on Dean, click here.


Our 2014 competition winners…

Overall Winner …

  • Lucy Li from Tirimoana School
    (Lucy’s story was judged the highest out of all the entries and will feature on this year’s book cover)

Our other Winners for 2014 are ….

  • Georgia Manning – Point View Primary School
  • Hannah Black- Mt Hobson Middle School
  • Hannah Jones- Hauraki School
  • Phoebe Godfrey – Dargaville Intermediate School
  • Tamsyn Hooper – Dargaville Intermediate School

(these are in alphabetical order by name.)


These winners wrote excellent pieces of writing that stuck to the theme of Heroes’, was appropriate for children aged 5-10 and had engaging and clever characters. A huge achievement and they should be very proud!

To purchase the 2013 Storybook please click here

To be notified first when the 2014 email 

Feedback from this years competition

This year we received over 1000 entries from 142 schools– all with different Heroes, plots, twists and turns!

Judges were carefully looking at the below criteria, which will help you understand if your story isn’t picked to be published this time around.  Read what the judges have to say and use it to help you create an even better story in 2015!

 Judging criteria:

  • Stories needed to have a clear and well defined Hero
  • Word count – the word limit was 600. Make sure your story sticks within the word count limit.
  • Original characters – some characters in the stories were named after other authors’ characters, such as Harry Potter, Captain Underpants or the Hulk! We need original, well thought out characters.  
  • The story needs to be well crafted, with a clear beginning, middle and the end.

Thank you to all our awesome entrants for 2014! 

YoungAUthors Challenge