Mrs Arapera Blank has won the prize for the best short article in the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Competition 1959. The competition was for the best writing published by a New Zealander between September 1957 and August 1959.
Mrs Blank is the daughter of Rev Tipi Kaa, who is now an Anglican pastor at Te Kaha. The family comes from Rangitukia, on the East Coast. Arapera was educated at Queen Victoria School in Auckland, and studied anthropology at Auckland University. The article for which she won the prize described kumara growing in her district. It was published in Te Ao Hou in October 1958, and was her first attempt at writing.
Teaching now, with her husband, at Punaruku, in the Bay of Islands, she is giving particular attention to the school's action song group which has become one of the best in the district.
The distinction of winning one of the Mansfield Memorial Awards is quite a considerable one, as most established writers in New Zealand competed for it. Originally there were to be two awards, of fifty guineas each. Maurice Duggan, a well-known writer won the short story award, and Elsie Locke the non-fiction one.
However at the last moment the sponsors (the N.Z. Women Writers Association and the Bank of New Zealand) decided to add two further awards, one of which was offered for the best short article, and won by Arapera Blank. The official announcement was:
“Another excellent entry was placed top in the short article division. Mrs Arapera Blank had been placed top of the shorter articles for her entry Ko Taku Kumara Hei Wai-U Mo Tama in the Maori Affairs Department publication Te Ao Hou. Her article was written in English. Mrs Blank is a Maori writer and a teacher at Punaruku. Her work has developed through the opportunities given to Maori writers through Te Ao Hou. It is arresting and creative. For the excellence of the above two entries (the other was by O. E. Middleton) the Bank of New Zealand decided to make additional prizes of fifteen guineas each…”