Kent Wins National History Writing Competition

29 Oct Kent Wins National History Writing Competition

Congratulations to Kent Cheng (Year 13), who is the national winner of the inaugural Bridget Williams Books history essay competition. The prize includes professional help from an editor to support Kent and help him become an even better writer, and $100 of books of his choice.

Well done also to Angela Liao and Aaminah Ali, both in Year 11 History, who won the competition at their year level.

Bridget Williams Books is one of New Zealand’s premier non-fiction and history publishing houses, so this is a huge endorsement for our young writers here in the College and for the benefits of studying history.

A couple of months ago, my history teacher Mr Davison approached me with the opportunity to enter the Bridget Williams Book History competition. The competition was to write about a topic which is often neglected and forgotten when it comes to New Zealand’s short, but diverse history. While I was initially hesitant to join the competition, lockdown provided a huge silver lining for me. I had the time to craft a piece of writing focused on something I was passionate about and something which, to the judges, was well in-depth and well written.

My inspiration for my essay topic was “The Chinese migration to New Zealand in the 19th century”, and was largely based on my own cultural identity and background. As someone of Chinese heritage, I sought to find out more about the often neglected and forgotten history of my forefathers that migrated to New Zealand in the 19 century. 

Whilst we often consider the New Zealand Wars to be the most significant event of this period, the Chinese settler movement also proved to be an extremely important event in shaping New Zealand. Although we often celebrate our Chinese diversity and culture today, New Zealanders tend to forget about the ill-treatment and anti-Chinese actions that early Chinese migrants experienced in New Zealand. The prejudice and isolation that many of these migrants felt due to racism and people’s attitude towards what they called the “yellow peril”, are often forgotten and poorly highlighted in comparison to other significant events when we discuss grievances and injustices from New Zealand’s past.

I’m extremely grateful that I was the recipient of this award. I was able to earn $100 worth of BWB history books, which is quite a treat for someone with a passion for history like me. More importantly, I am lucky enough to receive feedback from an experienced BWB editor on how to craft my work for publication. This is a huge honour and something I’m looking forward to. Next year, I am heading to the University of Auckland to complete a Bachelor of Law and Commerce Conjoint. The skills that I’ve obtained through studying history will be vital for me in the future and have set me up to (hopefully) thrive and be successful at university and later on in life.

by Kent Cheng, Year 13

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