A 10-year-old west Auckland schoolboy has won the top award in an international short story competition.
There were 3000 entries from around the world, but James Balston from Waitakere Primary School took out the top prize for his story inspired by New Zealand native animals.
James says his parents sometimes call him a monkey, but he reckons he's more akin to the special ocean dweller.
"When I power through the waves at Orewa beach, I become weightless and graceful, just like Hector's dolphin," James wrote.
It's his love of swimming and nature that inspired his story on the theme of belonging for the Commonwealth Class Writing Competition.
"I thought, what can I do? I like the water, yeah, that could work. I like animals, yeah, I'll write a story about what animal I would belong in," he told Newshub.
But he didn't expect an email telling him he'd won.
"It was a complete shock and I couldn't be too excited, because I was just stunned."
The judges praised him for his "vibrant and imaginative" work, putting him ahead of hundreds of other children from around the world to win the seven-to-10-year-old category.
"I got some help from my parents fixing the grammar, but I chose what I liked and put it into writing," James says.
"We're really proud of him for having worked so hard and to give it a go," says mum Serena Balston.
"To actually knuckle down and get that work done, and the artwork that he did for it, he worked so hard on that and it was just fabulous."
He'll be awarded with a book token worth $170, and James says he's already getting ideas for his next writing competition.
Read his whole entry here.