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New Zealand’s literary giants honour benefactor

Dame Fiona Kidman, Becky Manwatu, Dr. Jann Medlicott, Pip Adam, and Catherine Chidgey. Suplpied photo.

A Tauranga woman who is battling cancer has been honoured by a quartet of New Zealand’s best fiction writers.

Tauranga's Jann Medlicott has been recognised for generously providing the national fiction prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

The Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction - previously called the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize - has been awarded since 2016.

First winner Stephen Daisley (Coming Rain) sent his apologies from Australia.

Medlicott and her guests were thrilled to hear from the other winners: 2017: Catherine Chidgey, The Wish Child, 2018: Pip Adams, The New Animals, 2019: Dame Fiona Kidman, This Mortal Boy, 2020: Becky Manawatu, Auē.

Two former winners, Pip Adam and Catherine Chidgey, are finalists for the 2021 prize, worth $57,000. The winner will be announced on 12 May at the Ockham NZ Book Awards ceremony held each year as part of the Auckland Writers Festival.

Acorn Foundation Donor and Community Engagement Manager, Margot McCool, says the impact of Jann’s generosity in providing this annual prize was very evident in the highly personal stories shared by the winners of the ways they had put the funds to use.

"Make no mistake, whilst we have writers whose work deservedly sits alongside the top works of fiction anywhere in the world, they have not previously had the recognition they so deserve. This award goes some way towards addressing that."

“You have done something immense for contemporary New Zealand literature," Award-winning author and NZ Book Awards Trustee, Paula Morris, says of Jann.

"The Māori proverb, ‘Ko te kai a te rangatira, he kōrero’, or words are the food, the sustenance, of rangatira, could have been written for you. Writers of literary fiction in New Zealand are not motivated by money, but the thought that someone else cares enough about what we write, and how we write, to endow such an award reminds us of the power of art, how vital it is to both writers and readers.”

Jann is currently receiving further treatment for cancer and is thrilled to have the support of close friends and family at this very special gathering.

The Acorn Foundation has been working with generous donors like Jann Medlicott to support causes of importance to them since 2003.

For more information on how you might support the community you love, go to www.acornfoundation.org.nz.

For more information on the 2021 National Fiction Prize go to www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards/2021-awards/shortlist/ .

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