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Heritage writer will use Prize award to support literacy in Suau

Winner - Ronnie DotaonaKEITH JACKSON

“I am shocked and in disbelief,” said Ronnie Dotaona when he heard the news. “It’s an honour for me, as a rookie writer in the Crocodile Prize, to win this prestigious writing award.”

Ronnie, 33, who has been awarded the Cleland Family Prize for Heritage Writing, is a teacher and researcher in applied ecology and invertebrate entomology. He’s currently on study leave in NSW, Australia, prior to submitting a dissertation for examination later this month.

“I'm a proud Suau from Milne Bay but I’ve worked in Lae ever since graduating from university. My tiger parents were educated only to Form 1, mum barely reads English, but they have their standards and rarely allow mistakes at home.

“I'm from a matrilineal society and my grandmothers had high standing and were 'misinare' (Suau slang for church elders).”

Ronnie said that, for first-timers, writing can be challenging.

“Papua New Guineans pass history orally from one generation to another and, if that can be replicated in writing, you're heading in the right direction.

“I write what's in the container between my ears but I know that a good writer is also a good reader.”

Ronnie said it’s an honour to receive the Cleland Family Heritage Writing Award.

“I thank the Cleland family for supporting literature in PNG. I plan to use this award to support literacy in my home province. Maybe it's a small plan but it’s a start.”

Ronnie said he knows his writing had yet to reach the level of PNG’s pre-independence writers and senior writers of the Crocodile Prize. “However I am optimistic that this generation's writers' will carry on the baton.”

“This is truly an ignition of my writing to another level. I am looking forward to what’s ahead of me.”

You can read Ronnie's winning entry here - Suau: The Sons of Seafarers


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Gavin Ash

Congratulations Ronnie. Well deserved

Ron Kone

Thanks Robin. Appreciated

Robin Lillicrapp

Well done, Ronnie.

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