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2019 Award Winners Announcement

Mike White named New Zealand’s Best Travel Writer for the third time

Mike White has won the Philippine Airlines Travel Writer of the Year and Mike Langford was named Philippine Airlines Travel Photographer of the Year at last night’s 2019 Philippine Airlines-Travcom Media Awards.

It is the third time White has claimed the country’s supreme award for travel journalism, following wins in 2006 and 2014. He has won numerous other honours in the awards.
The annual awards are organised by Travcom (New Zealand Travel Communicators) to celebrate excellence in travel writing, photography and digital media. This year’s competition attracted a record 400-plus entries.

Travcom President Tracey Bond says: “The last 12 months have been an exciting time of change for Travcom. A year ago we were at a crossroads and asked all of our members what we should focus on. They told us the annual awards were a highlight of the year.
“So, we were thrilled when Philippine Airlines came on board to sponsor this year’s awards and we hope this will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship.”

“Philippine Airlines is honoured to be the naming sponsor of the Travel Media Awards,” Israel Fontanilla, the airline’s NZ Area Manager, said. “The sponsorship offers a unique opportunity to lift the profile of both Philippine Airlines and the Philippines as a destination, with a very influential group of people who inspire and motivate New Zealanders to travel overseas through their writing and photography. “We look forward to seeing and reading about the winners’ experiences when they travel to the Philippines in the next year.”

The awards were judged independently by senior members of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

White won for his feature ‘Season’s Greetings’, which appeared in North & South magazine. Judge Helen Hayes said: “This story was entertaining from beginning to end and made me look at Queenstown, a place I have been to many times, through different eyes. The story was cleverly constructed, brilliantly written and made me smile.”

Langford’s winning image for the Philippine Airlines Travel Photographer of the Year was ‘Weed collectors, Dal Lake Kashmir.’

Judge Danielle Lancaster said the choice to convert the image to black and white suited its emotion: “I want to be out there with them.”

Both awards carry the prize of two return premium economy flights and a tailor-made experience in the Philippines.

Other awards and winners were:

The Britain and Ireland Award, which inspires visitors to Britain and/or the island of Ireland via photo, Instagram image, article or blog post.

Finalists: Mary De Ruyter, John Bishop, Susan Buckland and Thomas Bywater. Winner: Sharon Stephenson, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, Next Magazine.

Judge Lee Mylne said: “From the intro onwards, this story held my attention and made me want to read on. Beautiful imagery and clever descriptions lifted it from the pack, and skilfully wove the past with the present to bring Bristol to life. A clear winner for me.”

The TreadRight Foundation Award for best photo, Instagram image, article or blog post promoting environmentally, socially, culturally and/or economically sustainable travel.

Finalists: Peter de Graaf, Stephanie Holmes, Joanna Wane, Lindy Laird. Winner: Thomas Bywater, Ethical Traveller video essay, nzherald.co.nz.

Judge Louise Southerden said: “This was the standout piece in this category, a clear and deserving winner. It’s creative, it’s current – through its use of video as well as the written word – the visuals are beautiful (both images and graphics) and it’s fun to watch.”

“The facts and figures make it newsworthy, and the practical tips are made accessible by being presented in video form. Congratulations on a great piece of sustainable travel journalism.”

The NZ Herald Travel Rising Star Award for people new to travel writing was won by Ainsley Duyvestyn-Smith.

The judges, Herald travel editor Winston Aldworth and deputy Stephanie Holmes, said: “We had two really strong contenders for the big prize.

“Ainsley took top honours with a wonderful piece from her adventures in the Sahara Desert that did a fabulous job of capturing the heat and humour of her journey and the humanity of the characters she encountered along the way.”

Heritage Hotels Best New Zealand Travel Feature finalists: Virginia Larson, Jenny Nicholls, Mike White. Virginia Larson won for ‘A Walk on the Wild Side,’ North & South Magazine, which published all finalists in this category.

AA Directions Best International Travel Feature finalists: Rebecca Hayter, Stephanie Holmes, Chris van Ryn, Mark Watson. Winner: Joanna Wayne, ‘Diary of a Divided Land’, North & South Magazine.

Judges Rob McFarland and Sue Wallace said they were impressed with the standard (and volume) of entries in this category, but they were unanimous in choosing the winner.

The Great Journeys of New Zealand Best New Zealand Image finalists: Jane Dove Juneau, Mike Langford, Peter de Graaf, Tim Cuff. Winner Mark Watson, ‘Wind Clouds over Aoraki’.

Judge Dan Avila said: “Mark’s image was amazing, and the composition was pretty close to bang on. The amount of water movement is interesting, still maintaining shape and the sharp mountains gives the viewer something to hold onto in an image full of movement.”

Southern Cross Travel Insurance Best International Image finalists: Mark Watson, Monica Tischler. Winner: Mike Langford, ‘Mount Nemrut Statues’.

Three of his images came in joint first place. Judge Jocelyn Pride said they all demonstrated the same perfect sense of time, place and culture with beautifully balanced compositions that drew the viewer into the scene. “Dramatic lighting and a beautifully framed image make this photo totally captivating.”

Winning Photography can be viewed on the Travcom website here

Photos from the Awards dinner can be viewed here

For Media 

  • Mike White and Mike Langford are available for interviews. Contact: Simon McManus, Travcom Administrator, 021 709 386.