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Arts Pasifika Awards 2004 celebrate Pacific arts

8 November 2004

Arts Pasifika Awards 2004 celebrate Pacific arts

"Work that is distinctive, fresh and vibrant"

The Arts Pasifika Awards 2004 were tonight presented to leading Pacific artists at a ceremony hosted by Her Excellency the Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright at Government House in Wellington.

The annual Arts Pasifika Awards, presented by the Pacific Arts Committee of Creative New Zealand, are the only awards in New Zealand aimed at professional Pacific artists across all artforms. The Associate Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage Hon. Judith Tizard presented the inaugural Heritage Arts Award and the Iosefa Enari Memorial Award for Pacific opera singers.

This year's recipients are Wellington actor and director Nathaniel Lees (the $6000 Senior Pacific Islands Artist Award); Auckland artistic director and performer Lemi Ponifasio (the $5000 Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award); former Christchurch multi-media artist Lonnie Hutchinson (the $3000 Emerging Pacific Islands Artist Award); Wellington tenor Bonaventure Allan-Moetaua (the $6500 Iosefa Enari Memorial Award); and Auckland tufunga tàmaka Kepueli Vaomotou (the $3000 Heritage Arts Award).

Chair of the Pacific Arts Committee Marilyn Kohlhase said the Arts Pasifika Awards celebrate Pacific artists and their contribution to New Zealand's "rich artistic landscape and its international profile as a creative Pacific nation. The recipients of these Awards produce work that is distinctive, fresh and vibrant, and are all committed to pursuing excellence in their work."

Along with their recognition of both emerging and senior artists, the Arts Pasifika Awards 2004 acknowledged the importance of preserving and maintaining the heritage arts of Pacific peoples of New Zealand.

"The Heritage Arts Award was set up this year to honour the huge contribution of the late Kepueli Vaomotou," Ms Kohlhase said. "As well as preserving and evolving the traditional Tongan artform of tufunga tämaka, Kepueli shared his vast knowledge with the Pacific community."

The Heritage Arts Award was presented to Mr Vaomotou's wife, Makalita Vaomotou.

Ms Kohlhase also announced a new award, the Salamander Gallery Emerging Visual Arts Award, worth $3000. This will be presented for the first time at the Arts Pasifika Awards 2005.

"Many emerging and established Pacific artists have exhibited their work at this Christchurch gallery over the years," Ms Kohlhase said. "We're delighted at the gallery's additional support and recognition of our talented Pacific artists."

Biographical notes:

Nathaniel Lees (Samoa) of Wellington was awarded the $6000 Senior Pacific Islands Artist Award. Nathaniel Lees is one of New Zealand's most respected actors and theatre directors. Over his 30-year career, he has been a source of inspiration and a role model for many young actors and performers. In 1993, he received the major award for Pacific Island artists from the Council for Mäori and South Pacific Arts (MASPAC) for services to theatre. In 1995, he won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best Director for his work Think of a Garden.

He has also worked extensively in television and film. Recent film credits include Captain Mifune in Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, Ugluk in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Nathaniel's directing credits include Fresh Off The Boat, A Frigate Bird Sings, Think of a Garden, Awhi Tapu and Foh Sarn- Fire Mountain. He also directed and acted in Albert Wendt's play, The Songmaker's Chair, which played to sell-out houses at the AK03 festival in Auckland, 2003 and at the 2004 New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington.

Lemi Ponifasio (Samoa) of Auckland was awarded the $5000 Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award. For the past 20 years, Lemi Ponifasio has been creating challenging and stunning productions, both as an independent artist and as the founder and artistic director of international performance ensemble MAU. His works include Fish of the Day, Illumina, Lo'omatua, Ava, Umu/Rise, Bone Flute, Haka and Paradise.

Regarded as being at the forefront of international avant garde theatre, Lemi Ponifasio has performed at the Adelaide Festival, Venice Biennale and Prague Quadrennial. In 2005, Paradise will begin a world tour of international festivals and in 2006, he will stage his new work, REQUIEM, to close the Amadeus Mozart 250th Anniversary in Vienna, Austria.

Lonnie Hutchinson (Samoa/Mäori - Ngai Tahu) of Auckland was awarded the $3000 Emerging Pacific Islands Artist Award. Lonnie Hutchinson moved from Auckland to Christchurch in 2000, and earlier this year moved to Brisbane after a seven-week international artist residency for indigenous artists at Canada's Banff Art Centre.

Her work speaks strongly of her heritage and often confronts socio-political issues. A multi-media artist, she works in painting, sculpture, installation, moving image and performance. She has an extensive and varied body of work that's been exhibited and performed nationally and internationally.

In 2000, Lonnie was the first female artist to be awarded the Pacific Island Artist in Residency at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. The culmination of this was Coconut Dreams, an exhibition of "symbols" of Pacific culture, which reworked the connotations of the lei and the friendly Pacific smile.

She has lived in Christchurch since 2000 and has only recently moved to Brisbane. Her installation, Sista Girl, features in the current Art & Industry Urban Arts Biennial in Christchurch, SCAPE 2004.

Bonaventure Allan-Moetaua (Cook Islands) of Auckland was awarded the $6500 Iosefa Enari Memorial Award. Tenor Bonaventure Allan-Moetaua was a member of the 2001-2002 New Zealand Secondary Students' Choir and has also been a member of the award-winning TOWER New Zealand Youth Choir for the past two years.

Born in Wellington he also went to school there before moving to Auckland to study. Last year, he made his solo debut in Auckland and because of his outstanding voice and musical potential won a scholarship to study voice at the University of Auckland. He has since been accepted into the Bachelor of Music Programme at the University of Auckland majoring in voice.

Kepueli Vaomotou (Tonga) of Auckland was awarded the inaugural $3000 Heritage Arts Award. The late Kepueli Vaomotou was known for his nimamea'a (magic hands). He worked as a tufunga tàmaka, an artist working with stone. This traditional Tongan artform - also known as tufunga tämaka - was used to construct royal tombs, royal house foundations and aristocratic resting places. Kepueli Vaomotou used the traditional knowledge and practice of the artform in original and innovative ways.

The Arts Pasifika Awards 2004 were held at Government House, Wellington and attended by approximately 180 guests.


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