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Te Waka Toi Awards - Achievements In Maori Arts

Te Waka Toi Awards Celebrate Achievements In Maori Arts

One of New Zealand’s most respected weavers, Diggeress Te Kanawa of Ngati Maniapoto, is one of 10 recipients at this year’s Nga Taonga Toi/Te Waka Toi Awards Evening, to be held in Auckland for the first time on Saturday, 18 August.

Nga Taonga Toi/Te Waka Toi Awards Evening is an annual event established in 1999 by Te Waka Toi, the Maori arts board of Creative New Zealand. Te Waka Toi Chair Elizabeth Ellis describes the evening as a time to celebrate and affirm Maori artistic and cultural achievements.

Ms Ellis says the essence of the evening is expressed in the following whakatauki (proverb): Te toi whakairo, ka ihiihi, ka wehiwehi, ka aweawe te ao katoa/Artistic excellence makes the world sit up in wonder.

“Every year, we gather with the award recipients and their whanau to recognise their achievements,” she says. “It’s a very special evening where we reflect on the contributions of our kaumatua, and celebrate the energy and vision of our talented artists.”

Diggeress Te Kanawa, who lives in Te Kuiti, is one of five kaumatua to receive Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka/Sir Kingi Ihaka Awards for her outstanding contribution and support of nga toi Maori (Maori art).

Te Kanawa has worked all her life to support and promote the arts of raranga whatu and taaniko (different forms of weaving). She inherited her knowledge and skills from her mother, Dame Rangimarie Hetet, and other local kuia.

“It’s wonderful to be receiving this tohu because I knew Kingi,” Te Kanawa says. “He was a man of immense integrity and was always willing to share his knowledge of things Maori.”

The four other kaumatua to receive Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka are:

- Hau and Anna Hereora of Nga Puhi, who live in Waikare, near Kawkawa in the Bay of Islands

- Tawhao Tioke of Tuhoe, who lives in Auckland

- George Ryan of Ngai Tahu, who lives in Bluff.

Kaumatua in communities throughout the country make significant contributions to the arts and culture of Maori at a local or regional level, Ms Ellis says. “Te Waka Toi salutes and thanks all those elders and their whanau who work quietly and tirelessly for the benefit of others. With this award, we are able to acknowledge this life-long commitment at a national level.”

Te Waka Toi also offers an award for new work (Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi), an award recognising outstanding contribution to the promotion and strengthening of Te Reo Rangatira (Te Tohu mo Te Reo Rangatira a Te Waka Toi), and three scholarships (Nga Karahipi a Te Waka Toi).

Arnold Manaaki Wilson of Tuhoe is this year’s recipient of Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi New Work Award for his outstanding contribution to the development of new directions in contemporary Maori art.

“It’s wonderful to get this award,” the Auckland sculptor and carver says. “It will help me explore the use of various materials such as clay, metal and light in my new work.”

Tane Taylor (Tainui, Raukawa, Ngati Maniapoto, Aotea, Te Arawa, Takitimu, Rangitane, Tama Te Ra, Takihiku, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe) is this year’s recipient of Te Tohu mo Te Reo Rangatira a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Award for Te Reo.

Tane Taylor, who lives in Te Awamutu, is a kaumatua and strong advocate and specialist in te reo Maori (the Maori language). He initiated the first te reo Maori programmes at Te Wananga o Aotearoa and played a pivotal role during the early years of Te Kohanga Reo movement.

Te Waka Toi also offers three Nga Karahipi a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Scholarships, valued at $2500 each, to post-secondary Maori students of Maori arts involved in a course of learning. The three recipients of this year’s scholarships show artistic and cultural merit and are involved in their local marae. They are:

- Charles Panapa (Ngati Maniapoto, Te Ati Awa) of Kihikihi, near Te Awamutu, who attends the Christchurch College of Education, where he is completing his second year in performing arts at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts

- Shannon Wafer (Te Ati Awa, Nga Puhi), an innovative carver studying at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua

- Aaron Gardiner (Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Apa) of Whanganui, who is completing a Maori visual arts degree at Massey University.

As well as celebrating the achievements of this year’s recipients, Nga Taonga Toi will highlight excellence in raranga. Some of Diggeress Te Kanawa’s most treasured pieces will be displayed, including the 11 korowai (feather cloaks) she completed recently for each of her children.

Te Waka Toi also makes an award in recognition of a Maori artist’s life-long contribution to the development of nga toi Maori (Maori art). Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award will be presented on the recipient’s marae in October.


Profiles of Nga Taonga Toi 2001 recipients

Te Tohu mo Te Reo Rangatira a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Award for Te Reo

Tane Taylor (Tainui, Raukawa, Ngati Maniapoto, Aotea, Te Arawa, Takitimu, Rangitane, Tama Te Ra, Takihiku, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe) is a highly respected kaumatua, and advocate and specialist in te reo Maori. He initiated the first te reo Maori programmes at Te Wananga o Aotearoa and played an important role during the early years of Te Kohanga Reo movement.

A translator of written compositions and waiata, Tane Taylor is recognised as an expert on valuable celestial knowledge of astronomy, astrology and the spiritual sciences of the Maori world. Fondly known as “Star Man” and “the best-kept secret in Tainui”, he has always shared his knowledge and skills with those who want to learn.

Tane, who lives in Te Awamutu, is also an accomplished artist and has completed many paintings, drawings and sketches. “Since retiring, I’ve been commissioned by a number of government departments to paint a series of murals,” he says. “I’m also completing a mural on the Maori cosmos for Te Wananga o Aotearoa.”

Tane has worked for many government agencies. He has also worked at New Zealand House in London, where he was an advisor and leader of the Maori culture club Kotahitanga. In 1972, he attended Oxford University where he undertook research on early New Zealand history. He is currently a consulting kaumatua for Maori Health Waikato.


Tane Taylor

Te Awamutu Tel: 07-870 4539

Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Award for New Work

Arnold Manaaki Wilson (Tuhoe, Te Arawa) is an exceptional sculptor, carver and educator. He graduated with honours in sculpture from the Elam School of Art at Auckland University in 1953 and embarked on a teaching career, which included 18 years as Director of Cross Cultural Programmes for the Department of Education. During this time, he held many exhibitions and completed several major commissions. He also inspired many children and adults to appreciate their culture and heritage through his innovative bicultural art programmes.

Born in 1928, Arnold’s work has been exhibited in many New Zealand art galleries. One of his most recent exhibitions, held in 1997, showed his great respect and love for trees and wood. In Ode to Tane Mahuta, he sculpted a number of pou whenua (logs), which tell the stories of Tane Mahuta, the god of the forests.

Awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 1990, Arnold and his wife, Rangitinia Wilson, were the driving force behind the building of Awataha Marae on Auckland’s North Shore. Although Arnold has now retired, he is still an active participant as kaumatua for the community of Awataha. He is also an advisor and kaumatua to the Manukau Technical Institute School of Art and Design, and a kaumatua to the Maori Advisory Group for the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.


Arnold Wilson

Beachhaven, Auckland Tel: 09-483 8900

Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka/Sir Kingi Ihaka Awards

Diggeress Te Kanawa (Ngati Maniapoto) is one of New Zealand’s most prestigious weavers who has worked with her mother, Dame Rangimarie Hetet, to retain and foster traditional weaving practices since the 1950s. An inspiration for many weavers and contemporary artists, she has always shared her knowledge and skills with those wanting to learn the art of weaving. She has worked as a conservationist and educationist, protecting traditional weaving materials and techniques.

“Weaving has always been around me,” she says. “I have always been fascinated in the preparation and dyeing of muka, and the difference in textures obtained from varieties of harakeke.”

In 1988, Diggeress travelled with Emily Schuster to study weaving collections in museums in Britain and the United States. Once she had gathered information on earlier weaving styles and methods, she completed her first book, Weaving a Kakahu, which was published in 1992.

Diggeress lives in Oparure, south of Te Kuiti, and is an advisor and kaitiaki to those teaching weaving to local students. Her work has featured in numerous exhibitions and is always in demand both in New Zealand and overseas. Her most recent project was the completion of 11 korowai (feather cloaks) for each of her children. Six pieces were recently exhibited at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt.


Diggeress Te Kanawa

Oparure, Te Kuiti Tel: 07-878 7557

Anna and Hau Hereora (Nga Puhi) have worked quietly and tirelessly all their lives in the small community of Waikare, near Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands. Married for 48 years, they have always been active participants of Te Kohanga Reo movement. Working with other kaumatua, they helped set up Waikare’s first kohanga reo in 1984.

A kaumatua of Waikare Te Kohanga Reo, Hau is often sought after for his knowledge of nga tikanga Maori (Maori customs). A trustee of Waikare Marae since 1989, he played an integral role in obtaining funding from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to restore Te Pa, the original whare (house) at Waikare.

Anna has always been involved in community work, often bringing home other people’s children who needed love and guidance. She stepped down as Chairperson of Waikare Women’s Committee after more than 20 years but continues to take an active role in teaching te reo Maori to young mothers and assisting them in their courses for Te Kohanga Reo National Trust.

Anna and Hau have a keen interest in both traditional and contemporary local waiata. They have seven children, 25 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.


Anna and Hau Hereora

R D 3, Waikare, Kawakawa, Bay of Islands

Please call Manu Reti: Tel: 09-403 7419 (days) and 09-403 8329 (evenings)

George Ryan (Ngai Tahu) has spent many years as a volunteer for many groups and committees in the small settlement of Bluff, Southland. In the early 1980s, George and other locals were involved in a project to establish Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff. A passionate advocate for the preservation and maintenance of natural resources on the West Coast, George is well-known among South Island Maori for his knowledge of conservation issues and his resource management skills.

A fisherman for many years, George is an active spokesperson and representative of Ngai Tahu in matters involving the safe-guarding of tribal and local natural resources such as rivers, lakes and forests. He is an active participant of many trusts, groups and committees, which promote the preservation and maintenance of natural resources.

“Although Southland has great potential for ongoing development, I believe this must happen with minimum change and damage to the natural environment and resources,” George says.

Married with three children, he has been involved in many community organisations. He was a volunteer officer for the St John Ambulance Association, honorary ranger for the Department of Conservation and a member of the Whakatau Kaupapa ki Murihiku Research Group. He has been Chairman of Rakiura Maori Land Trust for nearly 15 years.


George Ryan

Bluff Tel: 03-212 8142

Tawhao Tioke (Tuhoe) was born in the Urewera area and as a child, he was taught the uses and application of plants and herbs by his elders. He has always shared his expert knowledge, providing comfort to people who have suffered a terrible crisis.

Trained as a presbyterian minister, he is also an accomplished musician and has worked as an orator and advisor for the Auckland School of Medicine and Te Hotu Manawa Maori. An advocate of Auahi Kore (quit smoking campaign), he is recognised by many for his expert knowledge of te reo Maori, whakatauki (proverbs) and storytelling. His humble manner and willingness to share his knowledge have earned him enormous respect and love - including from young people, who regularly seek his advice and guidance.

He was one of 12 kaumatua who featured in the television documentary, Nga Morehu. A widower for many years, Tawhao lives with his daughter Pauline in Auckland.


Tawhao Tioke

Kelston, Auckland Tel: 09-818 9935

Nga Karahipi a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Scholarships

Charles Panapa (Ngati Maniapoto/Te Atiawa) is attending the Christchurch College of Education, where he is one of only two Maori completing his second year in performing arts at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts in Christchurch. He will use the scholarship money to further his studies as a performer, especially in the field of opera.

A confident and determined individual, Charles overcame a childhood condition called Slipped Epiphers in order to achieve his goals. “As a young child, I had metal rods stuck in my hips to keep them from growing out of place,” he says. “Although the physical discomfort was at times frustrating, I managed to work out regularly so I could remain fit and able to keep up with my peers.”

As a student of Te Awamutu College, Charles was 17 when he was chosen as a soloist tenor for the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir. This Choir performed at the International Choral Festival in Canada in July 2000 and Charles says he felt honoured to represent not only his country but also his whanau (family), hapu (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe).

A fluent speaker of te reo Maori, Charles was a choral tutor for Te Wananga o Aotearoa, which won the Tainui regional choral section at both the 1999 and 2000 Waikato Maori Performing Arts Festival.


Charles Panapa

Christchurch Tel: 03-377 9684

Aaron Gardiner Te Rangiao (Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Apa) is in his final year of a four-year Maori visual arts degree at Massey University in Palmerston North. Already an accomplished, innovative carver and sculptor, he has held numerous exhibitions and several solo and group commissions over the past ten years.

A fluent speaker of te reo Maori, Aaron’s artwork reflects his strong commitment and belief in Matauranga Maori. “Art for me is the essence of my career,” he says. “I carve to feel my ancestors. My work is a reflection of them.”

He is currently working on a kohatu (stone carving) for his local marae, Kauangaroa. In January 2000, he also carved a Moko Mokai memorial stone to commemorate his tupuna, who were imprisoned and died in Dunedin during the Maori Land Wars.

Employed as an art teacher last year at Whanganui Girls College, Aaron says he enjoyed the opportunity to teach others and is now exploring a fulltime career in teaching. He also hopes to continue to learn more about Matauranga Maori, and is keen to share his knowledge and skills with other young Maori artists


Aaron Gardiner Te Rangiao

Whanganui Tel: 025-669 4400

Shannon Wafer (Te Atiawa, Nga Puhi, Ngati Kawa) is a traditional carver who is completing a National Certificate in Whakairo (carving) at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua. Earlier this year, Shannon and a fellow student completed a carved waka for the new Kura Maori, which recently opened in Porirua.

“It was both an honour and a humbling experience to be given the responsibility of carving a taonga for Porirua’s first-ever Kura Maori,” Shannon says. “My mate and I were still working on the finishing touches of the waka the night before the scheduled dawn ceremony. It was a nerve-wracking but awesome experience.”

Shannon exhibited a collection of kowhaiwhai panels for the first time last year. He was thrilled when one of his pieces was purchased by Te Puawai Tapu, a Maori Health Organisation. He will use the scholarship money to buy additional carving tools and to further his study in Matauranga Maori and te reo Maori.


Shannon Wafer

Wellington Tel:04-973 7593

For further information about Nga Taonga Toi and the recipients, please call:

Huinga Jackson-Greenland Tel: 04-477 3474 Email:

Iona McNaughton, Creative New Zealand Tel: 04-498 0715 Email:

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