New Zealand Society of Authors Youth Mentor Programme

By Esther Kristel | Posted: Thursday November 3, 2022

The New Zealand Society of Authors runs an annual Youth Mentoring Programme, with the support of Creative New Zealand. Every year four aspiring secondary school writers (aged 15-19) are chosen to be mentored by one of New Zealands best YA authors.

The four secondary school students chosen every year each have the opportunity to be mentored in order to develop their craft and hone their writing skills. The intent of the mentor programme is to foster and develop emerging writing talent with the support of established authors.

The four 9 hour mentorships available nationwide are highly contestable and it is thus with due credit that both Darcy Monteath and Shima Jack were each awarded a mentorship this year, taking out two of the four places.

Both Shima and Darcy begun their mentoring journey earlier this year and have this to say about what they have experienced so far:


This year, I’ve had the privilege of being one of four people in New Zealand to be awarded the NZSA Youth Mentorship programme. With this mentorship, I was assigned my mentor, Jo Emeney, and we were able to work together on any writing projects I had come up throughout the year. For me, one thing I have found helpful about having a mentor like Jo was the complete transparency, and list of techniques I gained from her. We didn’t necessarily work on a singular project together, as there were many things I was working on throughout the year that I felt could use some direction. She helped me with my creative writing structure, formal writing, and also allowed me to be open to exploring other forms of writing such as scriptwriting and creative prose. To be able to look at my own writing with a more critical eye, and explore my own voice in literature has been my biggest takeaway from our time together. I’ve been able to focus less on competing and pitting myself against others, and instead learn how to write out of my own love for it.

This mentorship programme has been an awesome experience, and I can say that Jo and I will continue to stay in touch even after our time is up!


I have found the mentorship extremely valuable in terms of getting to talk to an accomplished writer about their experiences and opinions. So far, the mentorship has challenged me and encouraged me to work on areas I currently find difficult, and introduced me to new ways of thinking about current practices.

Both Shima and Darcy are venturing into tertiary study in 2023 and we wish them all the very best with their studies and other exciting ventures. We shall miss them and their words.