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PM's Address at Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship

PM's Address at Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship Function

Thank you for the invitation once again to be present at this celebration of the work done by the Frank Sargeson Trust and of this year's Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow, Emily Perkins.

The partnership between Buddle Findlay and the Trust to support the Sargeson Fellowship is a good model for sponsorship in the arts in New Zealand. It's built on common goals and interests, and on mutual respect.

Over the years, the Trustees and Buddle Findlay partners have backed so many New Zealand writers, established and emerging, who have contributed hugely to New Zealand literature, just as Frank Sargeson who inspired the Fellowship did in his time.

When we look at the list of former Fellows, including Janet Frame, Alan Duff, Kevin Ireland, Michael King, Marilyn Duckworth, and so many others, we know that the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowships are aimed at contributing to the support of our leading literary talent.

Over the years these Fellowships have gone to writers across the literary genres - in fiction, verse, prose, and script writing.

All have become widely recognised in New Zealand, and many as well have gained international recognition, including this year's Fellow, Emily Perkins.

All the Fellows have contributed to a body of literature which Frank Sargeson himself would surely recognise as distinctively New Zealand writing - and he would be proud of having inspired the Fellowship which supports this writing.

Next year the Sargeson Fellowship will be twenty years old, and it will also be the tenth anniversary of Buddle Findlay's sponsorship of it.

This longevity is a tribute to the organisations and individuals who have been actively involved with it over that time, to their steadfast commitment to the original intentions of the Trust in commemorating Sargeson and his work, and to the dedication of those who have held the Fellowship.

Christine Cole Catley will long be associated with this award. As Frank Sargeson's literary executor, Christine established the Trust which then established the Fellowship.

Christine is greatly admired and respected for her lifelong commitment to New Zealand literature. Her recent very high honour in the Queen Birthday's Honours List reflects the esteem in which she is held.

I hope, one day, Christine, that a writer will take on the task of producing your biography. You have indeed lived a fascinating life as a journalist, foreign correspondent, writer, critic, and publisher, and blazed a trail for women in these fields.

As Christine, the Frank Sargeson Trust, and Buddle Findlay as sponsors know so well, our writers play a significant role in defining us as New Zealanders. They tell our unique stories; they provide insights into our daily lives, and the directions we are taking as a people; they write of the very nature of our land and of our relationship with it.

Our Labour-led government is committed to seeing New Zealand's identity expressed through literature, and indeed through all our art forms. It's also exciting to see our literature inspire fine films like Whale Rider and In My Father's Den, giving even wider exposure to our unique stories

It's wonderful to see this year's Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow, Emily Perkins, back in New Zealand after eleven years in London.

Emily has spoken of seeing, but not quite meeting, her eminent predecessor Janet Frame. Janet, as inaugural Writer-in-Residence at the Sargeson Flat, visited the downstairs gallery in which Emily worked. She says she was too much in awe of Janet to speak to her, but no doubt Janet and her work have been a great inspiration to her and to many other young writers.

Emily's first book, Not Her Real Name, was published a decade ago. She is now a well established New Zealand author who speaks in her writing of contemporary lives and challenges.

Sargeson Fellows are linked by the tradition of New Zealand writing which each carries forward, enriching it as they do with contemporary voices, fresh perspectives, and new approaches to writing. Emily Perkins is a very worthy holder of the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship.

Once again, my thanks go to the Frank Sargeson Trust and to Buddle Findlay for your support for the Fellowship, and I wish Emily Perkins a very productive year as this year's Fellow.


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