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Outstanding Pasifika artists to be celebrated

The annual Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards recognise innovation and excellence in Pacific Arts and their contribution to the rich diversity of Aotearoa as a multi-cultural Pacific nation. Seven Pasifika artists will be honoured this year at a ceremony at Parliament.

Leading influencer and advocate for the disability arts community, Fonoti Pati Umaga QSM, is the first ever Pacific Toa Artist Award recipient. This inaugural award recognises the outstanding contribution of a Pasifika artist with the lived experience of disability and is a new category added to the awards under Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Strategy 2018 – 2023. Pati has a long career as a music artist and songwriter and was the bass player of popular New Zealand band The Holidaymakers.

The seven award recipients this year represent a range of artforms and are cultural and artistic experts in their fields – from traditional Kiribati master weavers to a contemporary tatau artist, who is the first female to receive traditional tutelage in the art of tatau.

“It’s a great pleasure to recognise and celebrate these outstanding Pasifika artists, whose work in their communities and the wider sector bring so much to the cultural landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Arts Council of New Zealand Deputy Chair Caren Rangi.

“We’re really excited about the inclusion of the new Pacific Toa Artist Award as we continue to roll out our Pacific Arts Strategy 2018-2023, and also help support and amplify the voices of the diverse communities within the Pacific Arts.”

“The work and recognition of these recipients are a testament to the strong commitment they have to their culture and their people, and we’re delighted that we can honour them all through the awards,” she says.

The awards will be presented at a vibrant Pasifika-flavoured ceremony in Wellington on Wednesday 16 October 2019 at the Banquet Hall in Parliament.

Pacific Toa Artist Award ($10,000)

recognises the contribution of a Pasifika artist with the lived experience of disability to the standing, and standard, of Pacific arts nationally or globally. The award recognises an individual whose work, influence and commitment has raised the standards, expectations and reputation of Pacific arts and artists. It may be awarded to any artform or for arts management. It could be for an ongoing contribution to a local, national or global success story.

PATI UMAGA QSM (Based in Wellington)

Pati epitomises the purpose of the Pacific Toa Award as a creative warrior and advocate for the disability arts community. He is an experienced advisor, programme leader, and change facilitator who has worked within the public sector, NGO, community, and special interest organisations. He has made significant contributions to the music industry, Pacific community and disability sector throughout his extensive career as a music artist and songwriter. Pati had an accident in 2005 and has been in a wheelchair since that time. He leads a very independent life and travels the country and the world for his creative work.

Senior Pacific Artist Award ($25,000)

recognising the contribution of a senior established Pacific artist in maintaining or developing their artform in New Zealand.


ETEUATI ETE (Based in Wellington)

Eteuati Ete is an actor, director and producer with a career spanning over 35-years in theatre and performing arts. He was the founding member of New Zealand’s first Pacific Islands Theatre Group, wrote and performed the first solo show by a Pacific Islander in New Zealand in the 1980s. Eteuati was one of the first Pasifika creatives to graduate from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in 1984. He has made a significant contribution to the arts in New Zealand, especially in the area of Pacific arts and in Samoan ‘faleaitu’ and comedy. He is the creator, manager, promoter and performer of the Laughing Samoans comedy duo (currently in hiatus) – one of New Zealand’s most well-known comedy acts globally, and a commercially successful arts company in New Zealand. He has given back significantly to the Pacific community and to New Zealand, including fundraising for charity, educational programs and more recently, advocating against domestic violence. He has used his public profile and experience to make a positive impact in as many ways possible. Eteuati has also been bestowed the Samoan matai title of Maiava by his family.

Pacific Heritage Artist Award ($10,000)

recognising an artist or cultural group who has made a major contribution to maintaining, reviving or promoting a Pacific heritage artform in New Zealand. This may include language, dance, traditional music, weaving or tatau.

LOUISA HUMPHRY & KAETAETA WATSON (Based in the Waikato)

Louisa and Kaetaeta are master artists who have exhibited nationally and globally and are cultural leaders for Pasifika women and the small Kiribati community in Aotearoa, advocating for the maintenance and transmission of i-Kiribati raranga and te bibiri. Their work has been exhibited in major exhibitions, including Home AKL at the Auckland Art Gallery, as well as Wunderruma (Louisa Humphry) presented at both The Dowse Art Museum and Auckland Art Gallery. Together with the wider Tungaru project team, Louisa and Kaetaeta have collaborated on the revival and creation of traditional Kiribati woven armour using ancient Pacific technology. This ground-breaking project, supported by Creative New Zealand and the British Museum led to their participation at the prestigious Asia-Pacific-Triennial in 2018 as well as displaying commissioned Kiribati te tai headdresses.

Contemporary Pacific Artist Award ($10,000)

recognising an artist who has demonstrated innovation in their artform. Artists must have a track record and have achieved in their chosen field. Recognition will be given to those who work in a unique artform, or those who continually push the boundaries of their practice.

ANAPELA POLATAIVAO (Based in Auckland)

A graduate of Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School, Anapela is a creator extraordinaire and an innovator in theatre. She creates work in a contemporary world for contemporary audiences that speak of the Pacific experience. Two of her most outstanding recent works include Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (Director and Actor), touring nationally to critical acclaim with an upcoming season in New York. Her other work that she created and directed, Alofagia: Le Opera earlier this year, was a multisensory cross-art form experience telling traditional legends of Samoa through a new operatic form of storytelling. The magical, mythical outdoor opera production by a Pasifika team was a new departure for opera and for Samoan work and featured the powerful operatic voices of Sol3 Mio.

Special Recognition Award ($10,000)

recognising the recipient’s special contribution to the standing, and standard, of Pacific Arts in New Zealand and/or internationally. This award recognises an individual whose work, influence and commitment have raised the standards, expectations and reputation of Pacific Arts and artists. It may be awarded for artistry across any artform or for arts management, and could be for a one-off or ongoing contribution to a local or international success story.

GLENDA TUAINE (Based in the Cook Islands)

Glenda grew up in Christchurch and has worked in the creative industry in New Zealand and the Pacific for three decades. Her work spans music, film, mentorship, artist development, visual arts and advocating and showcasing Pasifika creatives. She is a writer, director and musician, and also develops projects that help support and nurture future artists. Her work also encompasses running and managing festivals, including being the first Pasifika Artistic Director of the NZ Fringe Festival (2002 – 2004) and the inaugural Opera in Paradise, which brings Pasifika opera stars into the Cook Islands to pass on their legacy of excellence. Her work has featured and been delivered in New Zealand and internationally in the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Australia and Europe.

Emerging Pacific Artist Award ($7,500)

recognising an emerging artist showing promise and potential in their chosen artform. The purpose of this award is to recognise achievement at this developmental stage, ensuring the artist will develop their career in their chosen field.

TYLA VAEAU (Based in Auckland)

Tyla is a tatau artist of Samoan and Pakeha descent, with a Bachelor of Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts (2009) and a Master of Arts in Art History from Auckland University (2017). Tyla began tattooing in 2009 and has experience at arts and tattoo festivals nationally and globally. She specialises in contemporary Pasifika designs that have their roots in traditional kaupapa and patterns. She has dedicated much of her practice to researching the cultural, historical and spiritual significance of tatau and motifs. An artform very close to her heart, Tyla is in the process of learning the traditional Samoan method of tatau under the tutelage of the Su’a Sulu’ape Alaiva'a Petelo of Samoa. She is based at the wahine-owned indigenous tattoo studio Karanga Ink on K’ Road in Auckland.

Iosefa Enari Memorial Award ($7,500)

recognising the contribution of the late Samoan opera singer Iosefa Enari to the arts, in particular his pioneering role in Pacific opera. This award supports the career development of an individual Pacific singer, musician or composer across all classical genres and career stages.

SAMSON SETU (Based in London)

Samson grew up in South Auckland and won his first major competition at the biannual Performing Arts Competitions of New Zealand (PACANZ) competition in 2016. He is currently a Freemason’s New Zealand Opera artist and was a Dame Malvina Major Artist in 2018. He received the annual Dame Sister Mary Leo scholarship at the 2019 NZ Opera School. In conjunction with this award, he was also awarded the initial Guy and Sue Haddleton Scholarship award which includes $5,000 a year for the next five years to assist Samson on his pursuit of an opera career, a costly pathway. He also gained the Spirit of The School award for being a role model during the NZ Opera School 2019. Samson was offered a full-scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, beginning in September 2019.


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