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Polynesian Diva reigns supreme

Creative New Zealand media release

Polynesian Diva reigns supreme at Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards night

Entertainer Annie Crummer has been honoured with the premiere senior arts award at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards in Wellington this evening.

The annual awards are the only national Pacific arts awards to celebrate achievement across all artforms, with five awards presented on the night. Visual artist Michel Tuffery (M.N.Z.M.), winner of last year’s Contemporary Pacific Artist Award and set to open the 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival, gave the keynote speech; while respected musician and poet Tigilau Ness, father of hip hop icon Che Fu, was Master of Ceremonies.

Chair of Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Committee, Pele Walker, said the awards are an opportunity to celebrate the creative success of those making a difference internationally, nationally and in local communities.

“The awards recognise the richness and diversity of Pacific culture in this country. We honour those who share their expertise, to preserve heritage artforms; and those who push boundaries, to create an exciting contemporary Pacific arts scene in New Zealand,” said Ms Walker.

Annie Crummer’s long-term artistic achievement was honoured with the Senior Pacific Artist Award and $10,000. Starting her music career as a child-performer, Ms Crummer released her first single at age 16 and as an established solo artist, has supported some of music’s biggest acts including Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Charles and Michael Jackson. Of Tahitian and Cook Island descent, Ms Crummer is a household name, with numerous music awards behind her. She has released two albums, a ‘best of’ CD, is working on her next album and has expanded her career to include musical theatre.

New media and installation artist Janet Lilo received the Contemporary Pacific Artist Award and $5,0000. An Aucklander of Samoan, Niuean and Māori ancestry, Ms Lilo uses digital and online platforms to provoke and challenge. Community and audience involvement is a signature of her work. Commended for her innovative practice, Ms Lilo presents insights into contemporary daily life for urban New Zealanders through landscapes, homes, communities and personalities. Ms Lilo’s work has been included in group exhibitions in Honolulu, Taiwan, Indonesia, Europe and Australia. She has recently returned from artist residencies in Japan and New Caledonia.

Christchurch based visual artist Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka suffered damage to his studio, equipment and artwork in the February earthquake. In his studio, Mr Maka had developed a contemporary technique based on the traditional Tongan practice of smoking mats. The resulting artwork has earned him artistic favour and the nickname ‘The Smoke Collector’. Mr Maka’s recent exhibition of smoke paintings, Ngatu Tu’uli – the Past is Now, has lead to invitations to exhibit overseas. His talent and promise was acknowledged by the Emerging Pacific Artist Award and $4,000.

Expert weaver Kalameli Ihaia-Alefosio received the Pacific Heritage Arts Award and $5,000 for the major contribution she has made to maintaining and promoting the art of Tokelauan weaving in New Zealand, especially the techniques and styles of her home island Nukunonu. Mrs Ihaia-Alefosio is an active member of Wellington’s Tokelauan Community and teaches at the first Tokelauan early childhood centre established in New Zealand.

Opera starlet Marlena Tifaimoana Devoe received the Iosefa Enari Memorial Award. This award recognises the late Samoan baritone Iosefa Enari’s contribution to the arts, particularly Pacific opera. Miss Devoe, a New Zealand born Samoan, is in her first year of study at theprestigious Manhattan School of Music, New York. Her award was accepted by her family.

Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards
Thursday 24 November, doors open at 6pm for 6:30pm start. Invite only.
St James Theatre, Wellington


ANNIE CRUMMER captured the nation's heart in 1985 when she appeared in the classic Netherworld Dancing Toys' hit For Today. The West AUCKLAND girl was shy and only just out of her teens, but with that performance she began her journey towards becoming a New Zealand household name.

Born to a Tahitian mother and a Cook Island father, Annie is a professional entertainer who commutes between New Zealand and Australia. As a solo artist, she has supported and toured with Sir Paul McCartney, K.D. Lang, Ray Charles, Sting and Michael Jackson. She’s also worked with some of New Zealand’s best musicians; Dave Dobbyn, the Finn brothers and Hollie Smith.

Annie released her first single at the age of 16, Once or Twice, which reached #16 on the New Zealand Charts. In 1993 she released her debut album Language which gained platinum status. In 1996 she followed up with Seventh Wave which went gold. In 2002 Warner Music New Zealand released, Shine: The Best of Annie Crummer.

In 2011, Annie was honoured with the ‘lifetime achievement award' at the Pacific Music Awards. She has won numerous music industry awards including Best Female Artist in 1993 and a nomination for Best Female Artist at the 1996 ARIAs in Australia.

It was 1998 when Annie landed her first musical role as ‘Joanne’ in an Australian production of Jonathan Larson's hit musical Rent, which she later reprised in an Auckland season. In 2003 Annie won the lead role, ‘Killer Queen’ in We Will Rock You, she toured with the show through Australia, New Zealand and Asia until 2008.

This year Annie assisted her father, Will Crummer, with the release of his critically acclaimed CD and DVD Shoebox Lovesongs. Annie is currently working on her next CD entitled, Project Annie.C.

AUCKLAND contemporary artist JANET LILO has a strong sense of the politics of representation. Her work as a visual artist, social commentator and community documenter has been called “a breath of fresh air for the contemporary Pacific arts sector”.
Ms Lilo, of Maori, Samoan and Niuean ancestry, has exhibited her video and multimedia installations in New Zealand and overseas including group exhibitions in Honolulu, Taiwan, Indonesia, France, Germany and Australia.

Recently returned from an artist’s residency programme in Noumea, New Caledonia; Ms Lilo joined other artists from New Caledonia and New Zealand to explore the meaning of rituals in their lives and the impact of global influences on their cultures and identities. During the residency, Ms Lilo developed an artistic response to American reality television series America’s Next Top Model.

Earlier this year she was selected as the Sapporo Artist in Residence through the Japan East Asia Network of Exchange of Students and Youths. She was the first New Zealand artist to be chosen for this visual arts residency programme, which is offered to 13 Asia-Pacific countries.

Her 2007 solo exhibition, TOP 16, considered the immense popularity of social networking site Bebo, especially among Polynesian youth. Her Parklife video installation highlighted local hip hop culture within West Auckland and featured in the Telecom Prospects 2007 exhibition. Her work is known for making an impact, drawing a crowd and stimulating dialogue.

Janet Lilo has a Master’s of Art and Design in Visual Arts in Video and Installation from Auckland University of Technology and is a past board member of the Tautai Contemporary Art Trust. She was part of the New Zealand delegation to the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts.

KULIMOE'ANGA STONE MAKA has a reputation as a talented contemporary painter whose work pushes the boundaries between traditional and contemporary Tongan culture, and Western art practice.

Kulimoe’anga grew up in an artistic family in Patangata, Tongatapu. His father was a boat builder and his mother, a weaver. He learned to draw at a young age by helping his father illustrate plans for boats or forming flowers for embroidery with his mother.

Although he has lived in New Zealand since 1997, Kulimoe’anga’s artistic inspiration comes from Tonga. He explores themes of Tongan society including power, rank, status and religion. To present his thoughts, he blends Pacific and Western artforms and practices.

Over time Kulimoe’anga has developed a painstaking technique that draws on ta'ovala faka'ahu, the traditional process of smoking Tongan mats. It involves making black paint by collecting smoke from candlenut seeds, creating pigments from red clay and the bark of mangroves and using smoke, to create richly textured works. His mother and sister provide the sacred ngatu 'uli (black tapa), made from the bark of a mulberry tree, which is stripped and beaten, then glued with half-cooked tapioca to create a fabric surface to paint on. The end result, a series of abstract images, represent the multiple layers of meaning that smoke has in Tongan life.

In 2009 Kulimoe’anga was awarded the Macmillan Brown/Creative New Zealand Pacific Artist in Residence, in 2008 he won the Margaret Stoddart Award and was a finalist in the Martin Hughes Contemporary Pacific Art Awards in 2007. Kulimoe’anga studied at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design and Manukau School of Visual Arts at the University of Auckland, where he completed a Bachelor of Visual Art.

Recently Kulimoe’anga staged his exhibition Ngatu Tu’uli – the Past is Now at Pataka Museum of Arts and Cultures in Porirua, Wellington. This prompted a series of invitations to exhibit overseas. Kulimoe’anga has already exhibited work around New Zealand as well as in Hawai’i and Tonga.

Kulimoe’anga lives in CHRISTCHURCH.

KALAMELI IHAIA-ALEFOSIO was born and raised in Nukunonu, the middle of Tokelau’s three main islands. As a girl, she would join her mother at village and church weaving sessions and watch the women weave from morning until night. This was the foundation of the deep understanding and expertise Kalameli has today.

In 1976 Kalameli immigrated to New Zealand. She met other Tokelau women here with whom she would discuss the lotokie of Nukunonu and continue her learning. “We had frequent discussions with our elders about weaving and the lotokie. I asked them about the whole process including the processing of the raw materials and I asked about all aspects of weaving knowledge.”

Today, Kalameli is an expert weaver with in-depth knowledge of the practical and theoretical aspects of the artform. She treasures her language just as she does weaving. In addition to her years of training in heritage arts, Kalameli also studied education in New Zealand and holds a Diploma of Teaching in Early Childhood Education. She works at the first Tokelau early childhood centre established in New Zealand, Matiti Tokelau Akoga Kamata in Naenae, WELLINGTON.

The wish of Kalamelei’s elders was that the art of weaving be passed on, so that future generations would know the wonderful talents and gifts of Tokelau women. This lead to an educational DVD that was launched this year; Te To’kie i Nukunonu: An Introduction to Tokelau Weaving. Lead by Kalameli, the women of Wellington’s Tokelau community tell the story of Nukunonu weaving and describe the process, preparations and practices as taught to them by their own mothers and grandmothers.

MARLENA DEVOE discovered her passion for music at age 11.

Currently in her first year of study towards her Masters of Music at the exclusive Manhattan School of Music in NEW YORK, this young New Zealand born Samoan woman is under the tutelage of internationally acclaimed opera recitalist and teacher, Marlena Kleinman-Malas.

Starlet soprano Marlena began her music career in Opera New Zealand Children’s Chorus productions of La Boheme, Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci. Her interest continued into secondary school where she played lead roles in musical productions, became a cantor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland and a member of the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir. By her late teens Marlena realised her true passion was opera. One of her career highlights so far, is joining the NBR Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus for Macbeth.

Marlena became a member of the AUCKLAND Opera Factory in 1999, where she performed several lead roles. She took part in the Opera Factory Chorus that performed at the Nelson Sealord Opera in The Park with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Simon O’Neil and Jonathan Lemalu and at the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Gala Concert with Dame Malvina Major.

In 2009, Marlena graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and German, and in 2011 completed her Bachelor of Music Honours in Performance Voice under Dr Te Oti Rakena and Rosemary Barnes. She was the soprano soloist in the University of Auckland’s production of Carmina Burana, played Constantia in Daughters of the Late Colonel and the University’s Student Opera Project, The Electrical Eclipse.

Aside from going through the rigorous audition process for an eventual place at the Manhattan School of Music this year, Marlena was also nominated for the AMP People’s Choice Scholarship and last year was a finalist at the New Zealand Aria Competitions.

© Scoop Media

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