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12 Te Waka Toi Awards honour achievement in Māori art

Press Release – Creative New Zealand
Some of the country’s most talented artists, advocates and community leaders were celebrated tonight in recognition of outstanding achievement, leadership and excellence at the Te Waka Toi Awardshosted by Creative New Zealand.

Prolific sculptor and Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu (Supreme Award) recipient Fred Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui), has been an influential figure in Ngā Toi Māori since the 1960s. His striking, large-scale work can be seen in many public spaces in New Zealand and overseas.

Suzanne Ellison (Ngāi Tahu, Ngati Mutunga, Te Ati Awa), Chair of the New Zealand Arts Council’s Māori Committee, said the award winners had made outstanding contributions to Ngā Toi Māori over decades.

“It is an honour to be here tonight with such talented tohunga. Their work represents the rich diversity of Ngā Toi Māori and plays an important role in enriching and reflecting the lives of tangata whenua,” she said. “Thriving and vibrant Ngā Toi Māori supports well-being and identity for Māori, and the nation of Aotearoa. The outstanding calibre of this year’s award winners is a clear signal that Ngā Toi Māori is alive and well.”

Two new awards were introduced this year. Renowned multi-artform exponent Cliff Whiting was posthumously awarded the Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa award for excellence and outstanding contribution to Māori arts and Louise Kingi received the Te Tohu Whakamanawa o Te Matatini award for her contribution to kapa haka.

In all twelve winners were recognised for their outstanding contribution to Ngā Toi Māori across seven categories, including two Ngā Manu Pīrere awards for emerging artists, at a celebration held at Te Papa.

Te Waka Toi Award Winners 2017

Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu (Supreme Award) in recognition of leadership, excellence and outstanding contribution to Māori arts
Fred Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui, based in Waiuku), Tohunga contemporary sculptor
One of the most influential figures in Māori art since the 1960s, 88-year-old Fred Graham is a prolific sculptor whose striking work is displayed prominently in many public spaces in New Zealand and overseas. His work has a strong connection to Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) through central themes inspired by Māori traditions and legends, as well as focusing on issues that continue to affect Māori today, reflecting his concern for the environment and loss of culture.

Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa in recognition of excellence and outstanding contribution to Ngā Toi Māori
Supported by Te Papa Tongarewa
The late Dr Cliff Whiting ONZ (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui)
Dr Whiting, who passed away recently aged 81, made an outstanding contribution across a wide variety of artforms, through art education, art administration, marae building and renovation over many decades. Known for an innovative approach to using new materials, he was an inspiration to any aspiring artists. His many large-scale works are displayed in public places around New Zealand such as the National Library, the Christchurch High Court, the Beehive, and Television New Zealand.

Te Tohu ā Ta Kingi lhaka in recognition of a lifetime contribution to strengthening Māori art and culture (five recipients)
Tawhiri Williams (Tūhoe, based in Auckland) MNZM, Marae Arts/Performing arts, Te Reo
Tawhiri Williams has spent more than 50 years as a successful teacher, principal, teacher educator and kapa haka tutor. With his wife Kaa he started the first bilingual and then total immersion Māori medium school in New Zealand. He is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori and Education.

Kaa Williams (Tūhoe, based in Auckland) QSO, Marae Arts/Performing arts, Te Reo
Kaa Williams has had a distinguished career in education and Māori broadcasting for more than 50 years. With her husband Tawhiri she started the first bilingual and then total immersion Māori medium school in New Zealand. She worked for Māori television in several roles and as an examiner for Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission). She is a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (QSO).

Manahi Paewai (Rangitāne, based in Dannevirke) MNZM, Marae Arts
Historian, educator and treaty negotiator, Manahi Paewai has played a key role in the development of tikanga and Ngā Toi Māori in the rohe of his iwi in the Tamaki nui nā Rua region for nearly seven decades. He is well known for collating the history of the Ngāti Mutuahi hapū of Ngāti Te Rangiwhaka-ewa and making it available at the Mākirikiri Marae in Dannevirke, which he also restored and preserved over many years. His leadership of many iwi and hapū bodies included a principal role in the formation of Rangitāne o Tamaki nui nā Rua and in its subsequent Treaty of Waitangi claim. In 2015 he became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

Ronald Boyd Hudson (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngaruahine, Whakatōhea, based in New Plymouth) QSM, Marae Arts
A respected kaumatua, Ronald (‘Rocky’) Boyd Hudson is known for his knowledge of history, tikanga and Te Reo. An advocate for better social and health services for Māori, he has been an iwi representative on several health organisation governance bodies. He also helped successfully negotiate land claims for two iwi, and assisted with the national Māori language dictionary project undertaken by Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission). In 2015 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Māori.

Miriama Paraki (Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa, Tūhoe, based near Ruatahuna), Marae Arts
Tūhoe kaumātua and renowned holder of customary knowledge, Miriama Paraki has for many decades been a leading and unwavering advocate of the iwi and hapū of Ruatāhuna. The first female secretary of Te Umuroa Marae committee, she presented evidence of cultural suppression to the Waitangi Tribunal hearing in Ruatāhuna, outlining the impact of colonisation and suppression of Māori rights and the loss of Tūhoe tikanga. She is today regularly called upon by her community and whānau for advice, wisdom, and support.

Te Tohu Aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi: “Whakarongo, Titiro, Kōrero” in recognition of leadership and outstanding contribution to the promotion of Te Reo Rangatira
Supported by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission)

Pembroke Peraniko Bird (Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Tahu, based in Murapara) QSM, MNZM, Te Reo Māori
Pembroke Peraniko (Pem) Bird has had a long and distinguished career in mainstream and Māori education. As a secondary school teacher and principal he has been a passionate advocate of advancing Te Reo Māori in education for many years. At the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Ministry of Education and Auckland University, he helped to develop Te Reo Māori courses and evaluation standards. In 2008 he received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to education. This year he became a members of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and to Māori.

Te Tohu Toi Kē a Te Waka Toi in recognition of a significant, positive impact on the development and practice of Māori arts.
Briar Grace-Smith (Ngāpuhi, based on the Kapiti Coast), Theatre, Literature, Film
Writer of plays, screenplays, short fiction and radio and television scripts, Briar Grace-Smith was the inaugural recipient of the Arts Foundation Award and Writer in Residence at Victoria University in 2003. Her short fiction has been published in anthologies and her feature film The Strength of Water premiered at the Rotterdam and Berlin Film Festivals in 2009. She has worked for the New Zealand Film Commission and has taught writing for theatre at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University.

Te Tohu Whakamanawa o Te Matatini in recognition of outstanding contribution to Kapa Haka
Supported by Te Matatini Kapa Haka Aotearoa

Louise Kingi (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, based in Waihirere near Gisborne)
Having competed at the Te Matatini national kapa haka competitions every year since 1972, Louise Kingi is unrivalled in Aotearoa for her commitment to and aroha (love) of kapa haka. For more than four decades she has been an enthusiastic participant at Waihirere Māori Club’s weekly kapa haka practices. Known for her passionate performances, she is described as the sort of performer audiences cannot take their eyes off and has mentored many others over the years. “For some people it’s something you do. For me, it is a way of life,” she says.

Ngā Manu Pīrere in recognition of achievement by a young Māori artist at an early career stage (two recipients)
Chevron Te-Whetumatarau Hassett (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, based in Lower Hutt) Photography and Visual Art
Chevron Te-Whetumatarau Hassett is a talented young photographer who has found strength in his art and whakapapa to overcome personal hardship after a family tragedy last year. Chevron’s emerging career has involved advertising, journalism, mural and documentary projects. His most recent personal project, Ko tōku taumata tonu, ko Hawaiki, is a photographic series accompanied with text and a book that discusses his family tragedy and his journey to find Hawaiki afterwards. It is in his words: “A self-discovery from darkness, using my work to guide me through the stages into the light and into the world.”
Turene Huiarau Jones (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Whakaue, based in Auckland), Scriptwriting for Theatre and Screen
Turene Huiarau Jones received an A+ for her first play, I Ain’t Mad At Cha, which was submitted for her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Drama. The play had a sold out season to critical acclaim at Basement Theatre and was a finalist in Playmarket’s b4 25 competition. After interning at South Pacific Pictures writing for television, she is now writing for the Canadian/New Zealand trans-media series Fierce Girls. She plans to continue writing for the screen and theatre and to one day write a novel or two.


Acclaimed sculptor wins Supreme Award for excellence in Māori Art

Acclaimed sculptor Fred Graham was tonight awarded the Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu (Supreme Award) at the 2017 Te Waka Toi Awards for excellence in Māori Art.

One of the most influential figures in Māori art over more than five decades, Fred Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui), started the Māori contemporary art movement in the 1960s with friends and other Māori art luminaries including the late Drs Cliff Whiting and Ralph Hotere.

Since then his work has kept a strong connection to Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) through themes inspired by Māori traditions and legends and Treaty of Waitangi issues, such as the loss of land.

Eighty-eight years old, he lives in Waiuku, near Auckland, where he continues to make art addressing contemporary and historic issues, something he attributes to helping maintain his good health.

“It is an honour to receive this award, which is in the name of Dame Te Atairangikaahu, whom I knew and had a long professional and personal association with. I am also very grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to express ideas through my art over so many years,” said Fred Graham.

Suzanne Ellison (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Mutunga, Te Ati Awa), Chair of the New Zealand Arts Council’s Māori Committee, said his work has helped highlight important issues for many New Zealanders.

“As an artist, Māori All Black and teacher, Fred Graham has touched the lives of so many from different parts of society. Infused with energy and passion, his art is a cultural touchstone and a vehicle through which important contemporary and historic issues can be addressed,” she said.

His striking work is displayed prominently in public spaces in this country and overseas, including the Auckland High Court and Botanic Gardens, National Archives Building in Wellington, the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington and Port Alberni in British Columbia, where he carved Eagle with a Salmon as part of the International Carvers Exchange in 1986. In 1994 Fred Graham’s work featured in ‘Te Waka Toi: Contemporary Māori Art’, a traveling exhibition that toured the United States.

Fred Graham maintains an interest in topical issues and is currently working on a piece in glass that highlights clean water as a precious resource that must be preserved for all who live in Aotearoa.


Influential Māori art pioneer, advocate and educator recognised with posthumous award

Master carver, art innovator, teacher and heritage arts advocate Dr Cliff Whiting tonight received a posthumous award for his outstanding contribution to Māori art at the 2017 Te Waka Toi Awards.

Dr Whiting (Iwi Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) died recently aged 81. He was tonight awarded Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa for ‘excellence and outstanding contribution’ at a celebration at Te Papa.

The award is supported by Te Papa, where Dr Whiting worked and created Rongomaraeroa, Te Papa’s contemporary marae, which showcases his use of non-traditional materials such as customboard.

Te Papa Chief Executive, Geraint Martin, said his contribution to Te Papa and Ngā Toi Māori was immense.

“His vision and leadership in designing our spectacular Marae, Rongomaraeroa, embodied the spirit of partnership that the museum has honoured from its beginnings to this very day. His mana and dignity, and contribution to the understanding of our bi-cultural history and artistic traditions, was recognised in his receiving Aotearoa New Zealand’s highest honour – The Order of New Zealand.

“His legacy lives on in Te Papa through the example he set, which we follow and build upon to this day.”

Blending Māori tradition with Western modernism, Dr Whiting played a key role in the development of Māori art across a variety of artforms including wood carving, sculpture and construction, bone and stone carving, oil and watercolour, ink drawing, printmaking, fibre-weaving and photography.

His large-scale works are displayed prominently in public spaces such as the National Library, Christchurch High Court, Beehive, Television New Zealand and the visitor centre at Aoraki Mt Cook.

Suzanne Ellison (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Mutunga), Chair of the New Zealand Arts Council’s Māori Committee, said he was a talented art innovator who will be remembered for his distinctive style.

“Dr Whiting was an influential figure who will be deeply missed by many. His significant, enduring impact on the development and visibility of Nga Toi Māori is largely unparalleled among his peers.

“This award recognises his contribution and legacy of achievement over many decades,” she said.

A trained school teacher and teaching lecturer, he was also involved art administration, marae building and renovation. He was awarded New Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand in 1998.

About the Te Waka Toi Awards

Since 1986 these prestigious national annual awards have recognised excellence and achievement across all artforms including marae arts (traditional, marae-based artforms such as carving, and weaving) as well as contemporary artforms such as theatre, literature, film, photography, sculpture and visual arts. They are hosted by Toi Aotearoa – the Arts Council of New Zealand – through Creative New Zealand and are supported by Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Papa, Te Matatini, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission).

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