To kick start the process, I had numbers of New Zealand contacts in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Through these contacts, I was connected to a number of prospective young writers who in turn linked me to others they thought might be interested.
Over a period of three months an initial team of young writers were developed to become the initial New Zealand young writer contingent in 2012, and by the time the Kiwi program came to fruition with the first set of articles, it was very clear, there were very talented young people.
Then this year (2013) when the Basil Sellers Young Writer Award was developed, a group of seven Panellists were engaged in marking the young writers articles from late January through to the middle of August, prior to the September awards night in Melbourne.
Five of these seven Panellists were from Australia and two from New Zealand, Major Christina Tyson the editor of NZ War Cry from Wellington and the Rt. Rev. Brian Carrell retired Anglican Bishop (CMS) in Christchurch.
I knew Christina from the ARPA conferences (Australasian Religious Press Association) and one of the New Zealand young writers (Sophia Sinclair) working with CMS in Christchurch put me onto Brian Carrell.
This placed a heavy demand upon these seven Panellists, marking two articles every day over that seven month period and with the increase in New Zealand young writers, the solution to reduce the work load was to separate the Australian and New Zealand Panellist demands.
Likewise, the Basil Sellers Young Writer Awards was initially considered as an overall medallion and $1000 but that too became was separated during 2013 to have two separate Basil Sellers Young Writer Awards, one for New Zealand young writers and another for the Australian young writers. There were 50 young writers in the program.
Daniel Jang (Wellington) won the 2013 young writer award, Sam Burrows (Auckland) the Theological Development award while second place was drawn, Casey Murray (Auckland) and Sophia Sinclair(Christchurch).
New Zealand Panellists
The search then went out to look for additional New Zealand Panellists. There was a need for three additional Panellists.
Their work load for 2014 will be greatly reduced by only marking the New Zealand young writers, maybe 3 or 4 articles each week over a cuppa each morning. The task is to read the article and make an assessment out of 10 points.
The existing New Zealand Panellists include Christina Tyson (as above) and Brian Carrell (as above), along with the Christian Today editor David Chang from Sydney and Well-Being Australia volunteer Dr Deidre Tronson a retired academic also from Sydney.
Then began the search for three additional New Zealand Panellists to make up the seven.
The first to accept was Peter Grace the editor of NZ Catholic (Auckland) who regularly republishes the young writers. Peter is another ARPA conference contact and over the years he and I regularly breakfasted together.
The second to accept was Errol Pike from Wellington. Errol has been the immediate past President of ARPA and highly acclaimed New Zealand Christian Media personality and retired from the NZ Bible Society. Errol was awarded ARPA Life Membership at this year's conference in Melbourne.
At the 2013 ARPA conference a small group met to discuss getting young writers into ARPA. Errol Pike said this: "If we do not address this, it is at our peril."
Brian Carrell offered to assist in the search for an additional New Zealand Panellist and we are very pleased to accept his recommendation, Liz Hay (Christchurch) who is an experienced writer and editor and spouse of a retired Anglican minister.
The New Zealand Panellists for 2014 have now been established -
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at