What we mean by Literature 

Literature is a broad, inclusive concept that includes the research, writing, illustrating, publishing and performing/presenting of high-quality works of fiction, and non-fiction that demonstrate literary excellence and contribute to Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural life.   

Fiction includes, but isn’t limited to, novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, children’s fiction, young adult fiction, graphic novels, illustrated picture books, and speculative fiction such as fantasy, horror, historical, crime and science fiction.  

Non-fiction includes, but isn’t limited to, creative non-fiction, autobiography, biography, essays, memoir, social commentary, history, literary criticism, reviews, non-fiction written for children and young adults, and writing about the physical and natural sciences.  

Illustrating a work of literature (e.g. for works of children’s literature and graphic novels/comics) can be considered under the literature artform. 

New and hybrid genres of writing may also be considered under the literature artform.  

We consider literature to include customary and contemporary practices of all the peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand, including Māori and Pasifika peoples and the diverse cultures of people living in Aotearoa New Zealand today. 

Track record requirements 

For a writer of literature (or spoken-word artist/performance poet), success means having had published or presented at least one work that received a degree of critical or sales success. This does not include work published or presented as part of a course of study.  

For a publisher of literature, success means having previously published at least one work by a New Zealand author that achieved a degree of critical or sales success. This does not include work published as part of a course of study. 

Literature activities we support 

We fund a range of activities, for example:  

  • Developing or presenting work 
  • Researching and writing new work 
  • Commissions to research and write a new work 
  • Original writing in te reo Māori and Pasifika languages  
  • Original writing in the languages of the diverse cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand  
  • Illustrating a work of literature 
  • Publishing New Zealand work in print, e-book and audiobook format 
  • Writer-in-residence programmes 
  • Attendance at international literature festivals 

Developing skills and audiences 

Other literature projects   

  • Community arts projects that focus on professional writers working with communities (refer to Community arts) 
  • Literary magazines, review journals and other platforms supporting literature discourse or reader engagement. 
  • Literary festivals, or support for festivals to include New Zealand writers as part of a general programme. 
  • Workshops, wānanga, fono, masterclasses, literary seminars and conferences featuring established New Zealand writers, editors, publishers and so on. 
  • Documentary projects that focus on New Zealand literature or a New Zealand writer. 

Other support for Literature 

The Publishers Association of New Zealand manages international market development initiatives for New Zealand literature on behalf of Creative New Zealand. This includes funding for the translation of New Zealand titles into foreign languages. 

The Publishers Association of New Zealand also manages publishers’ attendance at major international books fairs. 

Activities we don't support 

Creative New Zealand sees literature as a broad concept that includes high-quality fiction and non-fiction. However, funding is not available for projects or activities that: 

  • are already supported by other government agencies, e.g. film, radio and television scripts. 
  • have received funding towards writing and research projects from the New Zealand History Research Trust or oral history projects funded by Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho, New Zealand Oral History Grants. Creative New Zealand cannot support the same phase of a project if you have received this funding support.  
  • are the core business of Te Papa Press and seek publishing support.  
  • is part of an education course, e.g. textbooks and other works created for primary, secondary or tertiary educational purposes; academic theses or coursework undertaken as part of any tertiary education programme, including coursework in creative writing 
  • we don’t consider to be literature, e.g. news media content that does not have a clear arts focus, instruction manuals, guide books, phrase books, do-it-yourself and how-to books, travel guides, gardening books, recipe books, bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, professional reference works, hymn books and publisher catalogues.