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Prime Minister pays tribute to Allen Curnow

24 September 2001 Media Statement

Prime Minister pays tribute to Allen Curnow

Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark today paid tribute to one of New Zealand's greatest writers, Allen Curnow, who died yesterday, saying his contribution to literature in New Zealand and internationally was immense.

"Allen Curnow was the elder statesman of New Zealand poetry and a giant of New Zealand literature. He also had a significant international reputation as one of the finest contemporary poets.

"His work helped forge a distinctive New Zealand voice and identity. He was also an inspiration to many New Zealand writers, as a teacher and mentor.

"Allen's immense contribution was such that he was made a member of the Order of New Zealand in 1990, New Zealand's top honour limited to twenty persons at any one time. He was also awarded the CBE in 1986.

"His achievements were many. He won seven New Zealand Book Awards for Poetry, the last being this year's Montana Book Award for Poetry for his most recent book, The Bells of St Babel's.

"The Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1988, a Cholmondley Award in 1992, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1989 feature among his many international awards and fellowships.

"As Prime Minister and as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, I extend the government's condolences to the Curnow family," Helen Clark said.


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