The Crocodile Prize – Papua New Guinea’s national literary contest – is open for 2019 with entries now being received for the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature.
The award will be given for the writer or piece of writing adjudged to have best explored traditional customs, beliefs and stories, and promoted PNG’s cultural heritage.
The Cleland family has sponsored the award since 2012 and former kiap Bob Cleland believes that any society benefits from being aware of its social and cultural heritage.
“I hope that today’s Papua New Guinean writers accept that idea and record for posterity some of the beliefs and stories from their ancestors,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean believe it or not believe it. It doesn’t mean accept it or ignore it. It doesn’t mean be proud of it or ashamed of it. It means, simply, to be aware of those traditions.
“It’s up to each writer to judge for themselves what things to write about and what things to ignore.”
The Cleland name has a rich and honourable association with PNG.
Bob’s father, Sir Donald Cleland, was the distinguished administrator of the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea from 1952-66 and played an important role as the nation prepared for Independence.
Dame Rachel Cleland, the wife of Sir Donald, was an active supporter of PNG culture and was a much loved figure in the country because of her close relationships with the Papua New Guinean people.
Bob Cleland, like his mother and father, has an intimate connection with Papua New Guinea and its people. He arrived in 1953 and worked as a field administrator in Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, Morobe, Simbu and Western Province.
Crocodile Prize director Ruth Moiam said the ongoing support of the Cleland family has been a massive boost to Papua New Guinean literature.
“The support of Bob Cleland and his family – year after year – is incredible,” she said.
“The Crocodile Prize was founded in recognition that our own literature is vital for us to explore Papua New Guinea’s diverse cultural and social perspectives.
“Understanding Papua New Guinea’s many traditions allows us to think more clearly about our shared future and the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature is promoting that process.”