Submit essay by Friday, 18 December 2015
Results will be announced on Friday, 26 February 2016

The McGuinness Institute is looking for young people aged between 18 and 25 to participate in our essay competition, which explores the question ‘What makes a good prime minister of New Zealand?’ This is an exciting opportunity for a young New Zealander to have their work published in our upcoming book, Nation Voices.


Essays should focus on the character, personality and skills that make a New Zealand Prime Minister ‘good’. These essays are not intended to include a discussion on political parties. Character is about values. Smart practice is about working on natural skills over time in areas such as sports, music, academia and the arts. Personality is what you wake up with, while character is what you need to work on all day, every day.

Important dates

  • The deadline for entries is Friday, 18 December 2015.
  • The results will be announced on Friday, 26 February 2016.

Essay competition guidelines

  • The maximum word limit for the essay is 2,500 words.
  • The author must be aged 18–25 and living in New Zealand.
  • All entries must be submitted as Word documents via email to nationvoices@mcguinnessinstitute.org.

Please see the Nation Voices essay competition page for an entry checklist.

The prizes

The author of the winning essay will receive a $500 cash prize, have their essay published in Nation Voices and win an all-expenses paid trip to Wellington to attend the launch of the book in 2016. The runner-up will receive a $200 cash prize and the top 10 essays will be published on our Nation Voices website.


  • Dr Bernard Cadogan: Author, Oxford educated Policy consultant, political philosopher, historian and poet
  • Wendy McGuinness: Author and Chief Executive, McGuinness Institute
  • Dame Claudia Orange: Author and Head of Research at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

If you have any questions, please email Wendy McGuinness at nationvoices@mcguinnessinstitute.org.


More about Nation Voices
Nation Voices is a McGuinness Institute project that aims to explore what makes a good prime minister of New Zealand. One of the outputs of the project will be a book that will use the lens of character and oratory to examine our nation’s 40 premiers and prime ministers. This book, which will be published late 2016, will be a companion to Nation Dates: Significant dates that have shaped the nation of New Zealand (our signature book).For more details see www.nationvoicesnz.org.