Emerging Māori Artist Bodie Friend wins the Kīngi Tuheitia Portraiture Award

By Whatitiri Te Wake

A photograph titled 'Nana', depicting Bodie Friend’s great-uncle Pat Kingi is the winner of the inaugural Kīngi Tuheitia Portraiture Award.

Fifty finalists were selected from 128 entries that used a wide range of mediums including whakairo, raranga, photography, ceramics and oil paintings.

Hundreds gathered today at the NZ Portrait Gallery-Te Pūkenga Whakaata in Wellington where Kīngi Tuheitia presented the award to Bodie Friend (Waikato, Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apakura, Ngāti Pūkenga, Tapuika, Ngāti Porou).

Bodie described his win as surreal.

“I'm stunned, I'm overwhelmed and I'm still coming to terms with what it means and everything that it entails,” he said. “I'm really excited to be here and to be part of this.”

The winning portrait of his great-uncle Pat is a tribute to a man who played a significant role in Bodie's life.

“Uncle Pat was the top of the list because I have a lot of admiration for him. He has played a big part in me connecting back to my marae and my own journey of being Māori so that was really important for me.”

Respected artist and competition judge, Kura Te Waru Rewiri says Bodie’s portrait captured this relationship.

“There is a character about him, there’s a lot of pride and the kākahu that he wore, his smile, it made me think about the koroua I have just like him.”

Bodie says he didn’t consider himself as an artist and was just committed to capturing images as a resource for his whānau.

Kura Te Waru Rewiri saw the work as an opportunity for Māori artists to reclaim mana.

“The challenge for us is to see our ones being able to take over from artists like Lindauer and Goldie,” she said. “We can now take images of our own tūpuna.”

The winner of the $2,500 second prize was Te Haunui Tuna Te Haunui Tuna for his digital drawing and video called Survival, a portrait of his koroua, Tamarau Waiari, a chief of Ngāi Tūhoe who fought at the battle of Ōrākau in 1864.

The Kīngi Tuheitia Portraiture Award exhibition will open on May 28 before touring nationally in August.