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The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington hosted this year’s Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards.
The annual event celebrates the achievements of Pasifika artists and this year eight artists over seven categories were honoured.
“If you think about this year’s line-up and compare them to previous line ups that we’ve had over the years, each one brings something new to the Pacific Arts family.” Says outgoing CNZ Chair Caren Rangi.
The ‘Emerging Pacific Artist Award’ ($7,500) went to Samoan indie-rock musician David Feauai-Afaese.
The ‘Iosefa Enari Memorial Award’ ($7,500) went to fellow Samoan violinist Hayden Afele-Nickel, who thanked the community with an emotional rendition of the Samoan National Anthem.
Recognising the contribution of an artist with the lived experience of a disability, the ‘Pacific Arts Toa Award’ ($10,000) went to Tongan Lavinia Lovo.
Lovo said of her award: “Now I want to be able to create different methods on how to go back on your stories, like spoken word, dance.
“Sometimes what I’ve learned with my young people with disabilities is that they lose the cultural identity because they’re so focused on their disability identity, that they forget to introduce themselves as Samoan first and Tongan first.”
The ‘Pacific Heritage Artist Award’ ($10,000) went to Tongan Losalia Fifita and the ‘Special Recognition Award’ ($10,000) went to the Falepipi He Mafola Niuean Handcraft Group
The ‘Pacific Contemporary Artist Award’ ($10,000) went to Niuean Katrina Iosia
“I’m an augmented reality designer and developer. I started out as a sculptor, painter, printmaker, so I’ve done everything under the sun,” Iosia says.
“Then I started thinking more about how do we use technology creatively to express that, and especially working in the medium that I use which is Creative Tech. There’s really no one else out there or there’s only a few of us.”
The big award on the night – ‘Senior Pacific Artist Award’ was shared between two of Pasifika’s most highly respected artists who are both pioneers for the next generation. Each receiving $25,000 was Cook Islander Ani O’Neill and Samoan Lonnie Hutchinson.
“It’s important to keep talking about what we do and being proud of what we do and keep making what we do, regardless, of all the kind of trials and tribulations that we have, you know, that we face. Because, the art is what makes us special,” O’Neill says.
“It’s not the easiest profession,” Hutchinson says.
“But you know, if it’s there in your heart, you can’t help but just keep following that; keep producing, keep being part of the conversation.”
A special thanks on the night went to outgoing chair Caren Rangi who is looking forward to the next generation of artists.
“I know for me, as the chair of Creative New Zealand, this is something I look forward to every year, but also as a Cook Islander and this is my last awards as the chair, so even more special,” she says.
“It gets harder every single year to choose from the huge level of talent that we’ve got and what a great problem to have right! What we’ve got, we’re so spoiled for choice.”