In 1913, Walter Nash ran an Essay competition with a prize of £5. 100 years later the Labour History project took this inspiration and in 2013 and 2015 ran an essay competition on the theme ‘Another World is Possible’.
2013 Another World Is Possible essay competition
Mark Derby, organiser of the “Another World is Possible” competition, says it aimed “to inspire debate on alternative futures”. A total of more than 40 entries from throughout the country were received, remarkably similar to the number who entered the original competition a century ago. The oldest entrant was aged over 90, the youngest 17. A panel of three judges – Victoria University historian Cybele Locke, political commentator and trade unionist Matt McCarten, and journalist Jeremy Rose – assessed the entries anonymously, and independently of each other.
Two Wellingtonians and a Christchurch resident have won the first annual “Another World is Possible” essay competition. The competition was organized by the Labour History Project, to emulate a similar event held a hundred years earlier by Walter Nash, then a labour organizer and later a popular prime minister.
The overall winner, receiving the first prize of $500 cash, was Ciaran Doolin of Christchurch. One judge said this entry “hinged on a vision of how powerful participatory democracy of ordinary people could be”.
Second prize winner, receiving $250, was Jane Blaikie of Wellington. A judge commented that Jane’s was “a deeply moving, personal story that gave real clout to the vision of freeing the poor.”
The youth (under 18) winner was 17-year-old Wellington schoolgirl Daisy Cadigan. Reading Daisy’s entry, said one judge, meant having “eyes opened to a brave new world where diversity and equality were not exclusive terms.”
2015 Another World is Possible Essay Competition
The judging panel for the second ‘Another World is Possible” essay competition delivered its decision today.
This competition was held for the first time in 2013, a century after labour leader (and later prime minister) Walter Nash held a similar competition in the union newspaper, the Maoriland Worker. The present-day essay competition is open to all NZ residents who are invited to write an essay of up to 1500 words on the theme of ‘Another World is Possible”. Cash prizes are given to the best essay, the runner-up, and the best by an entrant aged under 19. This year the prizes were generously sponsored by the Tertiary Education Union.
The December 2014 OECD report that ranked New Zealand as the most deeply affected by growing income inequality out of all developed countries set the tone for this year’s competition. It is quite a challenge to offer a vision of a future world without inequality and the strategies to get there in vivid language that appeals and convinces an audience. Congratulations to all those who entered for taking up this challenge so whole-heartedly. The winners listed below were those who came closest to meeting all the essay requirements outlined above.
Winner: Adam Driver
This was an innovative approach in which the use of the vignette draws the reader into an alternative space and opens up room to consider plans for reaching a ‘utopian’ world. The vignette was compelling and beautifully written, allowing readers to ‘see a day of it’ and therefore providing them with an aspiration before setting out the practicalities of reaching that vision: the creation of ‘industrial democracy’, recapturing humanism, and kiwi socialism.
This essay succeeds mainly as a thought experiment as to what a fairer and more compassionate political and economic reality might look like. By stepping through from dealing with ’empty bellies’, to ‘an ownership society’, and finally to ‘people-powered politics’, the utopian vision is tempered by the realities of real world change (in particular with the realisation that change is slow). This was a compelling case for a programme of major reform that would revolutionise our society.
Winner: Alexandra Orr
This well-written essay suggests we tax the rich, and institute restorative justice and universal basic income to create an alternative society without inequality.
Although not given an award, we would like to acknowledge Molly Pottinger-Coombes’ essay as a beautifully written dawning consciousness of privilege. We look forward to a future essay that considers a utopian alternative.