Thirteen Māori artists and leaders honoured at Te Waka Toi Awards

By Jessica Tyson

Thirteen outstanding Māori arts sector leaders and emerging artists have been honoured as recipients of Creative New Zealand's 34th Te Waka Toi Awards.

The awards, held last night, recognise leading Māori artists, advocates and community leaders for outstanding achievement, leadership and excellence.

The winner of the supreme award Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Exemplary was visual artist Robyn Kahukiwa.

As part of the award she won $25,000 in recognition of her extensive career as a painter, illustrator, sculptor and author, as well as her unyielding political and cultural commentary.

The winners of the Sir Kingi Ihaka Award recognising lifetime contribution went to Ngāti Raukawa descendants, veteran scholar Professor Whatarangi Winiata and Gabrielle Rikihanga.

The award is recognition of their contribution to strengthening the continuity of Māori culture through their support of ngā toi Māori.

Slam poetry group Ngā Hine Pūkōrero won the Ngā Manu Pīrere award, recognising an emerging artist or collective showing potential in their artform.

Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright says, “Te Reo Māori and Ngā Toi Māori are increasingly important in defining who we are as New Zealanders. Among this year’s recipients are some of the most innovative and challenging commentators of the Māori arts world and Creative New Zealand is once again proud to recognise their excellence and leadership that is particularly needed in this difficult year for the arts.” 

In response to changing Covid-19 alert levels, the awards were held online in a one-hour award ceremony hosted by actor, singer and director, Mere Boynton.

“Moving to an online format has made it possible for a global audience to join us in recognising the outstanding achievements of these 13 recipients,” Boynton says. 

Full list of winners:

Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Exemplary/Supreme Award

In recognition of leadership, excellence and outstanding contribution of a senior ngā toi Māori artists to the development of ngā ioi Māori.  $25,000 award. 

Recipient Robyn Kahukiwa

Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka | Sir Kingi Ihaka Award recognising lifetime contribution

Awarded to kaumātua/kuia in recognition of their contribution to strengthening the continuity of Māori culture through their support of ngā toi Māori. $15,000 for each recipient.

Recipients Whatarangi Winiata  (Ngāti Raukawa) and Gabrielle Rikihana (Ngāti Raukawa)

Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi Making A Difference award

Recognises leadership and outstanding contribution to the development of new directions in Māori art. $10,000 each award. 

Recipients Baye Riddell, Tanea Heke and Tama Waipara

Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa
Recognises the contribution of a Māori artist with the lived experience of disability to the standing, and standard of Māori arts in New Zealand and/or internationally. $10,000 award. 

Recipient Rodney Bell

Ngā Manu Pīrere

Recognises an emerging artist or collective showing potential in their artform. $10,000 per award.

Recipients: Amy Rameka, Ashleigh Taupaki, Ngā Hine Pūkōrero (Arihia Hall, Terina Wichman-Evans, Manaia Tuwhare-Hoani, Matariki Bennett)

Te Tohu aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi
Recognises the recipient’s outstanding work strengthening Te Reo Rangatira. Funded and selected by Te Taura Whiri o te reo Māori $10,00 award.

Recipient Pere Wihongi

Te Tohu Whakamanawa o Te Matatini

Recognises the recipient’s outstanding contribution to Kapa Haka.  Funded and selected by Te Matatini $7,500 award.

Recipient Tihi Puanaki

Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa
Recognises the recipient’s outstanding contribution to Ngā Toi Māori. Funded and selected by Te Papa Tongarewa.  $5,000 award.

Recipient Bob Jahnke