Award-winning Māori artists announced

Some of New Zealand's most talented artists gathered on Saturday night to celebrate Te Waka Toi Awards.

Since 1986 these prestigious national annual awards have recognised excellence and achievement across all artforms, from marae arts like carving and weaving, to contemporary artforms such as theatre, literature, film, photography, sculpture and visual arts.

The awards 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).

The celebration honoured ex-Māori All Black Fred Graham, who won Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu (Supreme Award) for his influence in Ngā Toi Māori since the 1960s. His striking, large-scale work can be seen in many public spaces in New Zealand and overseas such as Auckland's High Court, Art Gallery, and Botanic Gardens.

Eighty-eight years old, Mr Graham lives in Waiuku, near Auckland, where he continues to make art inspired by Māori traditions and legends and Treaty of Waitangi issues, such as the loss of land.

He 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.

Other award winners include:

  • The late Dr Cliff Whiting for Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa in recognition of excellence and outstanding contribution to Ngā Toi Māori
  • Tawhiri Williams, Kaa Williams, Manahi Paewai, Ronald Boyd Hudson, and Miriama Paraki for Te Tohu ā Ta Kingi lhaka in recognition of a lifetime contribution to strengthening Māori art and culture
  • Pembroke Peraniko Bird for Te Tohu Aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi: 'Whakarongo, Titiro, Kōrero' in recognition of leadership and outstanding contribution to the promotion of Te Reo Rangatira
  • Briar Grace-Smith for Te Tohu Toi Kē a Te Waka Toi in recognition of a significant, positive impact on the development and practice of Māori arts
  • Louise Kingi for Te Tohu Whakamanawa o Te Matatini in recognition of outstanding contribution to Kapa Haka
  • Chevron Te-Whetumatarau Hassett and Turene Huiarau Jones for Ngā Manu Pīrere in recognition of achievement by a young Māori artist at an early career stage