Tauranga Moana holds its first awards night

By Marena Mane

Ngā Tohu Toi, is a new annual arts award established by Te Tuhi Māreikura Trust in Tauranga Moana.

The awards acknowledge artists and creatives who whakapapa to the region for their contributions to Aotearoa’s artistic landscape.

Because the awards were held in Tauranga on the night of Matariki, recipients like singers Stan Walker and Ria Hall could not attend but teaomaori.news caught up with those that were there.

It was a night where they could acknowledge their own.

Te Tuhi Māreikura Trust chair Julie Paama-Pengelly (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāi Tūwhiwhia) says, “It's really important that our tamariki see our reo, they see our people, they see our toi, they see our language celebrated and you know, I hope that in 20 years’ time people want this award so much when they leave school because it’s something for them to aim for.”

Leadership in film

Receiving the Arataki Kiriata o Tauranga Moana or leadership in film was film producer Chelsea Winstanley of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui, who was one of the producers of the new reo Māori version of The Lion King.

“I'm so proud to be here today. I’ve had the most incredible day so far … and then to come here tonight and be acknowledged in among all my whānau and peers, it’s so beautiful. I feel really honoured,” Winstanley says.

Iconic creative project

Māori art curator Nigel Borell of Pirirākau, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui was awarded the Iconic Creative Project Award, Mahi Auaha Kauanuanu o Tauranga Moana.

“They’re really humbling but, when you get them from your own people, it's even more rewarding and meaningful, so I feel really honoured in a way I haven’t felt before, so I think it speaks to our mana Maori and our ability to be proud of who we are as Tauranga Moana, Tauranga tangata,”  Borell says.

Icon Award: Enduring artistic contribution

Another recipient was the co-designer of the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and arts teacher in Tauranga Moana, Linda Munn of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngā Pōtiki.

“When you’re doing your own kaupapa, you don’t think about those kinds of rewards so, when it does happen, it took me back a bit. I still haven’t processed it yet properly. But really happy - and happy that they’re happy with me,” Munn says.

Leadership in visual arts

Picking up the award for leadership in visual arts, Arataki Reo Rōreka o Tauranga Moana was Mr G. (Graeme Hoete) of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui whose striking mural portraits adorn buildings around the country.

“It’s a huge honour. Nōku te whiwhi. I think the highlight for me is just being around all of our whanaunga, nō kōnei (relations from here). All our recipients tonight. I think the future of Tauranga Moana and the arts, Te Ao o Toi, is in good hands,” Hoete says.

Ria Hall was also awarded for leadership in music with Arataki Toi Ataata o Tauranga Moana and Stan Walker was named creative of the year Te Auahatanga o te wā ki Tauranga Moana.

Te Tuhi Māreikura Trust is now looking forward to next year and is open to nominations from the public.