Finalists announced for inaugural Kīngi Tuheitia Portraiture Award

By Jessica Tyson

Portraits featuring whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), photography, ceramics and oil paintings are just some of the works shortlisted in the country’s first portraiture award in honour of Kīngi Tuheitia.

The award, a partnership between the Office of the Kiingitanga and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, was launched to inspire a new generation of emerging Māori artists to create portraits of their tūpuna.

The competition attracted an impressive 128 entries, of which 50 have been selected for the short list and will form the finalists' exhibition.

Jamie Berry | Wi Pere, a chief and a champion for his people. Photo source / New Zealand Portrait Gallery

Kīngitanga office chief of staff Archdeacon Ngira Simmonds says King Tuheitia is humbled and excited by the number of entrants received.

“This competition is a chance for Māori artists to shine and the Kīngitanga is proud to support the arts in this way. Sharing our whakapapa through art has always been important for our people. This award continues in that tradition and seeks to provide Te Iwi Māori with an opportunity to engage in a new kaupapa that is exciting.”

The entry criteria was open to emerging Māori artists who have either created an artwork within the past two years or wish to create an artwork, especially for the competition, using any visual medium, with whakapapa connections to the depicted tūpuna.

Lenny Boonen | Mahuta Te Toko. Photo source/ New Zealand Portrait Gallery

Reflecting on the entries, Te Pūkenga Whakaata director Brian Wood says, “The quality of entries was extremely high, with everyone paying great respect to their tūpuna as they depicted them in the various mediums.”

“We’ve had examples of oil painting, photography, carving ceramics, aute as well as photography, collage and crochet so it’s been a diverse mix of mediums.”

Hollie Tawhiao | Rangiaho. Photo source/New Zealand Portrait Gallery

Works in the award exhibition are from artists Northland to Otago.

Judges include tohunga taa moko and kapa haka exponent Sir Derek Lardelli; celebrated artist, teacher and activist, Kura Te Waru Rewiri and artist Lisa Reihana, who is known around the world for her portraits and digital art.

“The judges are really amazing and we’re going to really rely on their expertise. So they’ll have all the different works together in the gallery, and they will collectively agree which works are the winner and which works will become the runner up.”

The winner will receive $20,000 while the runner-up and people's choice award will each win $2,500.

Nikau Hindin | Te Ao Karere. 6.30. 26.04.1925. Photo source/New Zealand Portrait Gallery

The winning submission will be announced on May 27 and the exhibition will run at the gallery in Shed 11 on Wellington’s waterfront from May 28 to August 15. Later the finalist exhibition will tour nationally.

The full list of finalists and their works can be found here.