Louis Johnson New Writer's Bursary

The annual Louis Johnson New Writer's Bursary provides a stipend that enables a published writer or playwright at an early stage of their career to create a new work.


Closing dates:

Find out who got funded recently


29 Mar 2019

Artforms funded:

This content is tagged as Literature .
This content is tagged as Theatre .

1. Check your eligibility

Who can apply

  • As an individual you must be a New Zealand (NZ) citizen or permanent resident.
  • NZ-based organisations can apply.
  • If you are an overseas-based NZ artist or organisation you can apply. But your application must show direct benefit to NZ arts and you must have it endorsed by:
    • NZ artist(s) currently resident in NZ and/or;
    • NZ-based arts organisation(s) (must be well established).
  • To apply to Māori arts:
    • you must be Māori or your proposed project must be managed or directed by Māori
    • organisations must be owned and managed by Māori. If an organisation is applying for funding on behalf of an individual, that person must also be Māori.

Bursary eligibility

To be eligible for a Louis Johnson New Writer's Bursary, you must be a writer at an early stage of your career and meet the track record requirements listed above.

Project timing

Your project, or the stage of it for which you are seeking funding, must:

  • start after 31 May 2019 (for the 29 March 2019 closing date)
  • be completed within 12 months of us offering you the grant*

* Established visual artists, craft/object makers, writers and illustrators can apply for up to two years to undertake a significant or ambitious project. 

Benefits and track record

To be eligible for Creative New Zealand funding:

  • Your project or activities must directly benefit New Zealand arts, artists or practitioners.
  • You must have a track record of experience and success — this means you must have:
    • recognition from peers or experts
    • achieved a degree of critical or sales success
    • specialised training or practical experience.

For a writer of literature,  success means having had published at least one work that received a degree of critical or sales success in the literature genre for which the writer is applying. This does not include work created as part of a course of study.

How often you can apply

  • You can make up to two applications in a funding round.
  • Each application must be for a different project.
  • You can apply up to four times in total in a calendar year (1 January to 31 December) for a Quick Response Grant, Arts Grant, Toi Ake and/or Tohunga/Tukunga, eg two arts grant applications and two Toi Ake applications.

Reapplying for the same project

You can only reapply for the same project if you have written permission from the Manager, Funding Services. To see if your application is eligible for re-submission contact Funding Services

Other Creative New Zealand funding

Your project cannot have received funding from any other Creative New Zealand programme or initiative, including the Creative Communities Scheme, our international and capability building initiatives and investment programmes.

Organisations in the Toi Uru Kahikatea or Toi Tōtara Haemata investment programmes are not eligible to receive funding during the period of their funding agreement.

Late reports and breaches of agreements

We cannot fund you if you, your organisation, or key members of your team:

  • are more than 16 weeks overdue with a report for a previous grant or investment
  • are in breach of the conditions of a current funding agreement
  • were in 'default' of a funding agreement and sent in a late report in the six months prior to the closing date for a new application.

2. See what's funded


The bursary provides a stipend to enable an emerging writer to create a new work. Read our budget guidelines for more information about stipends.

Our priorities

We are particularly interested in:

  • the creation of a diverse range of high-quality new work
  • increasing and diversifying readership and sales for New Zealand literature.

We are also interested in projects or programmes of activity that:

  • are by, with or for young people up to the age of 18
  • involve the innovative and cost-effective use of digital technologies to create high-quality New Zealand work and/or to engage and interact with audiences.

Activities funded

To be considered for the Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary applicants should apply for an Arts Grant to write a work of any genre other than those listed below under 'Activities not funded'.

Activities not funded

Creative New Zealand literature funding is not available for research or writing that:

  • is funded by other government agencies, eg film, radio and television scripts; and writing and research projects supported by the History Research Trust
  • are education resources and activities as part of a course of study in New Zealand
  • is part of the core business of a Tertiary Education Organisation (TEO) or a territorial local authority (including a Council Controlled Organisation). Applications from staff or contractors of a TEO, or a TEO subsidiary, must disclose the full extent of the support they will receive from the TEO for their proposed project. Where equivalent, competing applications are received from TEO applicants, and those not, priority is given to freelance artists and practitioners.
  • we don’t consider to be literature, eg instruction manuals, guide books, phrase books, do-it-yourself and how-to books (including travel guides, gardening books, and recipe books); bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias and professional reference works; newsletters, hymn books and publisher catalogues.

Amount Funded

The dollar amount varies depending on the project request. Recent awards have been between $10,000 and $25,000.

Previous recipients

Previous recipients are listed on who got funded

3. Make an application


Register or Log in

How to apply

  1. Decide whether you want your application assessed as general arts, Māori arts or Pacific arts (see below for information to help you choose).
  2. Start your application online. Apply through the Arts Grant opportunity (you may need to register first).
  3. Gather artistic support material.
  4. Prepare a budget using the budget template in the online application portal.
  5. Submit your application online by 5pm on the closing date.

Login or register to apply online

Choose how you want your application to be assessed 

Applications for the Louis Johnson New Writer's Bursary, as part of Arts Grants, can be assessed as one of the following. You can choose:

General arts: which is suitable for all Literature applicants.

Māori Arts: if your project is by Māori and Mātauranga Māori is evident in the practice and results of your proposed activities. By Māori means:

  • you must be Māori or your proposed project must be managed or directed by Māori
  • organisations must be owned and managed by Māori. If an organisation is applying for funding on behalf of an individual, that person must also be Māori.

Pacific Arts: if Kaupapa Pasifika will be evident in the practice and results of your proposed activities. You will be assessed on how well your project fulfils the concepts of Kaupapa Pasifika.

See 4. Assessing applications for more information about the assessment process and criteria.

4. Assessing applications

What we assess your application on


Is it a strong idea? We look for the following indicators:

  • artistic aims that are clearly expressed
  • a compelling idea
  • an idea that will develop the skills of the artists and/or participants involved.


Can it be achieved? We look the following indicators:

  • a realistic and well planned process
  • realistic costs and revenue
  • a thorough and accurate budget
  • people involved that have sufficient experience to deliver this project.

Strategic fit

Does it deliver Creative New Zealand outcomes? We look for the following indicators:

  • that your project delivers to the selected strategic outcome
  • of an artistic outcome and/or participant experience that is likely to be high-quality.

You must choose one of these strategic outcomes to be assessed on:

  • New Zealanders participate in the arts
  • High-quality New Zealand art is developed
  • New Zealanders experience high-quality arts
  • New Zealand arts gain international success.

Māori and Pacific Arts assessment

In addition to the above you can have your project assessed as Māori or Pacific arts. If you do we’ll:

More information under Make an application

Scoring your application

This assessment scale is used to score idea, viability, Mātauranga Māori and Kaupapa Pasifika.


7---Excellent - Exceeds all indicators
6---Very good - Satisfies all indicators and exceeds in more than one
5---Good - Satisfies all indicators and exceeds in one
4---Acceptable - Satisfies all indicators
3---Minor reservations - Satisfies most indicators however there are minor reservations
2---Major reservations - Satisfies some indicators however there are major reservations
1---Unacceptable - Does not meet the indicators

The following assessment scale is used to score strategic fit.

Score – Description

5---Excellent - Exceeds both indicators
4---Very good - Exceeds one indicator
3---Acceptable - Satisfies both indicators
2---Weak - Satisfies one indicators, however there are reservations
1---Unacceptable - Does not meet either indicator

Who assesses your application

An external peer assessor will assess your application. Pasifika or Māori artists and practitioners are involved in assessing applications to the Pacific or Māori arts funds. Recommendations are made to Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager for Arts Development Services for decision.

Nominate peer assessors for our funding programmes

External peer assessors are asked to evaluate a range of applications made to Creative New Zealand’s funding programmes and initiatives against specific criteria.

Peer Assessor nomination form (doc 167KB)

Peer Assessor terms and conditions (pdf 259KB)


5. Notification of results

We will email all applicants of their result nine weeks after the application closing date. We will notify applicants on Friday 31 May 2019.

At the same time we list successful applicants on who got funded

If you are successful we will also email you about:

  • your funding agreement
  • payment schedule
  • reporting requirements.

6. On completion

A project completion report is required within 12 weeks of the project end date using the report template. To be considered for further funding, your report needs to be submitted on time.

Login to report online


7. Who to contact

For more information or advice: