TEU congratulates Airini Beautrais - TEU member and lecturer of health science at Te Pae Mātauranga ki te Ao | UCOL – who last month was awarded Aotearoa’s major writing prize, the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Beautrais received the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction for her collection of short stories titled Bug Week. The work is just the second collection of short stories to be awarded the prize in the award’s 53 year history.

Beautrais teaches health science at UCOL and has a PhD in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters.

The Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction is the country’s most prestigious award for literary fiction. For Beautrais, a first-time nominee whose previous publications include four works of poetry, receiving the award for Bug Week – her first work of prose - is a huge achievement and honour,

‘While receiving the award came as a surprise, as a writer it’s an incredible affirmation of what we do. So often, creative work can be side-lined as we prioritise other work and responsibilities, so it’s a real honour and perhaps even a reassurance to be recognised for my work’.

Aside from her role as lecturer at UCOL, Beautrais teaches exercise classes and is busy with two children, and says it can be a challenge to find time for her creative work, but says it’s important to find time for that outlet,

‘There’s only so many hours in the day, and a lot of my work on Bug Week was done when I wasn’t working fulltime. There’s always ups and downs, and I’m sure I’ll find more time down the track. There are a lot of creative people in TEU, and across the sector, that juggle both creative and teaching careers, and it’s always going to be a trade-off. On the other hand, sometimes having both helps you prioritise your time’.