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5 outstanding NZ artists share quarter mil prize

31 October 2006

Five outstanding New Zealand artists honoured with quarter of a million dollar prize.

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand and Presenting Sponsor Forsyth Barr announced the recipients of the prestigious 2006 Laureate Awards at a gala event in Auckland tonight (October 31).

In recognition of their artistic achievements and excellence, the five distinguished New Zealand artists received an equal share of the quarter of a $1 million cash prize ($50,000 each) - New Zealand’s largest cash arts prize pool and the only non-government, private award to consider all art forms.

The five 2006 Laureates are: Alun Bollinger, Filmographer; Alastair Galbraith, Musician; Oscar Kightley, Writer/Director/Actor; John Reynolds, Visual Artist; and Ian Wedde, Poet/Writer.

2006 Laureates

West Coaster, Alun Bollinger is one of New Zealand’s most high profile and well-known cinematographers. He has received worldwide acclaim for his innovative and masterful work from behind the camera on films such as River Queen, The Piano and The Lord of the Rings.

Alastair Galbraith is an experimental musician based in Dunedin who is one of the most admired musicians in the "underground" music scene worldwide. His career began in the early 1980s as leader of The Rip, and he later went on to play with Plagal Grind before recording as a solo artist.

A familiar face of various television and theatre productions, writer, director, actor, television presenter and broadcaster Oscar Kightley was born in Apia, Samoa, emigrated to New Zealand at the age of four and grew up in West Auckland. Most recently he starred in the box office sensation Sione’s Wedding and is also a member of the Naked Samoan comedy group who together write the award-winning TV3 series Bro’ Town.

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Aucklander John Reynolds is one of New Zealand’s foremost painters and printmakers. He started his career in 1980 exhibiting large abstract colourfields, and slowly moved into structural text-based imagery. He has won multiple awards for his work and in 2002 he was a finalist in the Walters Prize. Earlier this year he exhibited a feature work at the Zones of Contact 2006, Biennale of Sydney.

Ian Wedde, poet, fiction writer, critic and art curator, was born in Blenheim and is now based in Wellington. In a career spanning four decades he has published twelve collections of poems, four novels, a collection of short stories. His prolific essays in art critical and cultural studies have also been collected in two volumes. In September 2006 he published The Viewing Platform, his first novel since Survival Arts (1988).

Since the Laureate Awards inauguration in 2000, the Arts Foundation of New Zealand has honoured a total of 34 Laureate artists and distributed a total of $1.4 million.

"This significant investment in these prime movers in New Zealand culture assists them to achieve their full potential and ensures that their talents are celebrated both at home and on the world stage," Ros Burdon, chairman of the Arts Foundation said.

The Laureate Award is a career award, not tagged to any particular project. Its recipients do not fill out forms, read fine print or make special applications.

The artists were chosen by a selection panel of distinguished peers and arts experts – including Lynn Freeman (Radio New Zealand producer, presenter), Justin Paton (curator of contemporary art at Dunedin Public Art Gallery), Prof. Howard McNaughton (Head of the School of English at Canterbury University), Ruth Harley (Chief Executive, New Zealand Film Commission) and Jon Bywater (a lecturer at Elam School of Fine arts).

Upon receiving his award Oscar Kightley said, "I was honoured to be held in the same company as my fellow recipients, both past and present."

In addition to the $50,000 donation each Laureate Artist receives a specially commissioned Terry Stringer statuette, a profile on the Arts Foundation’s website and the opportunity to be involved in the popular Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage series.

The Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage events take place around the country and give people the chance to hear what inspires these talented Laureate artists.

"The Arts Foundation together with Forsyth Barr has created a family of Laureate Artists and being recognised alongside previous and current recipients is of huge value in itself. Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage provides the mechanism for the artists, who may never have met before, to interact," says Ros Burdon.

It is through the Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage events that several collaborations between Laureates have ignited. For example, the meeting of Gaylene Preston and Gillian Whitehead resulted in collaboration on an opera that is under consideration from a number of Festivals.

In September 2006 Forsyth Barr was the Overall Winner of the NBR 2006 Awards for Sponsorship of the Arts for their sponsorship of Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage.

Four of the five 2006 Laureates will perform at Laureates On-Stage events in Christchurch and Queenstown on 1-2 November.

"We look forward to the 2006 recipients joining us at Forsyth Barr Laureates On-Stage where their inspiring and incredibly human stories are so openly shared with our audiences," Neil Paviour–Smith, managing director – Forsyth Barr said.

The Laureate Awards are made possible through income generated by the Arts Foundation’s

$6 million endowment fund, which is managed by Forsyth Barr.


The 2006 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates join:

2005 - Neil Ieremia, Bill Manhire, Julia Morison, Simon O’Neill, Ronnie Van Hout

2004 - Barry Barclay, Jack Body, Derek Lardelli, John Pule, Ann Robinson

2003 - Jenny Bornholdt, Neil Dawson, Michael Hurst, Humphrey Ikin, John Psathas

2002 - Warwick Freeman, Shona McCullagh, Don McGlashan, Helen Medlyn, Jacob Rajan

2001 - Phil Dadson, Kate De Goldi, Michael Parekowhai, Gaylene Preston

2000 - Briar Grace-Smith, Elizabeth Knox, Peter Peryer, Gillian Karawe Whitehead, Douglas Wright

Laureate n. a person who is honoured for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement.
[Concise Oxford Dictionary]



The Arts Foundation of New Zealand

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand is a Charitable Trust, independent from Government, that invests in excellence in New Zealand arts.

The Foundation has an endowment fund which generates income to support the arts. It encourages private individuals to support the endowment through donations and bequests. The endowment fund was originally set up through donations from the Lottery Grant Board and a three-year loan of $1 million from an anonymous patron.

At the inaugural awards in 2000 five individuals received $30,000 and the awards increased to $40,000 in 2003. Continuing growth in The Endowment Fund brought about by increased donations from individuals allowed the Foundation to increase the award to $50,000 in 2004.

For more information visit:

Forsyth Barr

Forsyth Barr is one of New Zealand’s largest independent investment houses. It is a locally owned business with well established global connections.

Forsyth Barr offers services in sharebroking and company research, investment trusts, leveraged equities, call deposits, fixed interest, retirement planning and private portfolio management.

With more than 70 years experience and 11 offices nationwide, Forsyth Barr has the expertise and knowledge to assist people in their investment needs.

For more information about Forsyth Barr and how they can help people make the most of the investment opportunities in their lifetime visit or call 0800 367 227.

Forsyth Barr is the Principal Sponsor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand, naming rights sponsor of the Laureates On-Stage and Presenting Sponsor of the Laureate Awards.


ALUN BOLLINGER (1948) is one of New Zealand’s most high profile and well-known cinematographers, whose innovative and masterful work from behind the camera is acclaimed both throughout New Zealand and worldwide. His extensive career began at the age of 17 as a cine camera trainee with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation where he shot news, current affairs and documentaries for television. After leaving the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation at the age of 20, he became a freelancer, though he didn't know it at the time, and was involved with feature work from the beginning of the new wave of New Zealand cinema.

Alun’s work features in numerous high profile New Zealand projects such as The Piano (Jane Campion), Vigil and River Queen (Vincent Ward), Heavenly Creatures, Forgotten Silver, The Frighteners and Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson), Mr Wrong, Bread and Roses, War Stories and Perfect Strangers (Gaylene Preston – 2001 Laureate), What Becomes of The Broken Hearted, End Of The Golden Weather and Came A Hot Friday (Ian Mune), and the quintessential Goodbye Pork Pie (Geoff Murphy).

Much sort-after for his skills as a director of photography, Alun prefers to spend at least half the year away from the film business, working on other projects back at his home in Blacks Point, near Reefton on the West Coast of the South Island, with his wife Helen. He is a member of the New Zealand Film and Television School Trust and offers occasional master-classes and lectures at film schools.

ALASTAIR GALBRAITH (1965) is an experimental musician based in Dunedin and is one of the most admired musicians in the "underground" music scene worldwide. He employs violin, bagpipes, softly spoken lyrics, organ, and backwards-guitar to create what American writer Bill Meyer describes as "otherworldly lyrical miniatures" of highly personal exquisitely intimate and unerringly emotional sound. His long, consistent career began in the early 1980s as leader of The Rip, who recorded two EPs for Flying Nun. He later joined other prominent South Island musicians Peter Jefferies, David Mitchell and Robbie Muir to form Plagal Grind, whose self-titled EP is regarded as a masterpiece of extra-academic experimental music. His solo work has gained a growing international reputation and is known as a benchmark of excellence for the independent, idiosyncratic mode it operates in. His works have been heralded in prestigious critical journals and documented by recordings on prestigious American labels. In his recent work, alongside solo recordings, Alastair collaborates with Bruce Russell in the improvisational group, A Handful of Dust, and with Matt De Gennaro, with whom he creates distinctive 'wire music' using piano wires in site-specific installation. His 2004 Radiant CD with Dino Karlis, has been described as "a monstrous collaboration between two of NZ's most vital underground musicians."

OSCAR KIGHTLEY (1969) is a writer, actor, director, television presenter and broadcaster. Born in Apia in Samoa, he emigrated to New Zealand at age four and grew up in West Auckland. He began his career as a reporter with the Auckland Star, Sunday Star, and Independent Radio News before moving to Christchurch in 1990 to work on TVNZ's teenage show Life 91, while at the same time becoming part of the Performing Arts Trust. He helped establish Pacific Underground (a Christchurch-based Theatre group), where his first co-written play Fresh off the Boat was developed. Following this success Pacific Underground toured a number of critically acclaimed Pacific Island plays to schools around New Zealand and the Pacific. In 1996, A Frigate Bird Sings (co-written with David Fane) gained success at the 1996 NZ International Arts Festival. Oscar’s first solo venture as a playwright, Dawn Raids, premiered in Auckland in 1997 and in 1998 he was awarded the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. In 2004, Oscar wrote Niu Sila with Dave Armstrong, which played to sell-out crowds. In 2006 Oscar (and Dave Armstrong) was one of four recipients of the inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand Award for Patronage discretionary donation from Denis & Verna Adam.

Oscar is a member of the Naked Samoans comedy group who performed in the International Laugh Festivals 1998-2002. He co-hosted TV3's coverage of Super 12 Rugby and the weekly sports show, SPORTZAH as well as being a writer/performer for Skitz and Telly Laughs for TV3. He has been on the Panel for TV3, a story liner for Shortland Street and has featured on documentaries about the Otara Markets and Racism in New Zealand in 2001- 2002. Oscar is also a presenter on Nui FM’s breakfast show. He currently works with the Naked Samoans on TV3 series Bro' Town which won Best Comedy at the 2005 and 2006 NZ Screen Awards, where Oscar also won Best Script for Comedy along with Shimpel Leilisi, David Fane and Mario Gaoa. He acted and co-wrote the hit film Sione’s Wedding which reached the number one position in the New Zealand box office in its first week of release and was the biggest opening weekend of any New Zealand-made film grossing over $3 million.

JOHN REYNOLDS(1956) Allan Smith, Senior Lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts, once described John’s work as "intoxicated, indecorous, hedonistic, romantic, sublime, mythopoetic, dithyrambic, epic and visionary, excessive and cloying, satanic and heavenly, restless; his compositions are turbulent, angelic, chromatic, shimmering and exfoliating, internally stressed, externally unhinged, and ornamental; his iconography is reminiscent of blood vessels and hallucinated architecture"!

John received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Elam in 1978 and began exhibiting in 1980. He has based himself in Auckland throughout his entire career and has featured in many key exhibitions and publications on contemporary New Zealand art, has shown widely throughout the country, and been commissioned to produce projects for a wide range of New Zealand galleries. John has become known as one of New Zealand’s foremost painters and printmakers. He began his career painting large abstract colourfields, slowly moving into structural text-based imagery. His paintings are rich with literary, religious, art historical and architectural allusions, frequently using both everyday and epic references. His works range in scale from works on postcards and stamps to a 2 x 12 metre painting, Hope Street, with his latest large work Clouds a feature work at the Zones of Contact 2006 Biennale of Sydney. The work accumulates most of the Harry Orsman Oxford dictionary of New Zealand English "New Zealandisms" which John has painted in metallic silver on 7,073 primed canvasses, hung randomly on the feature wall in the entrance hall of the National Gallery of New South Wales.

John won the Montana Lindauer Award in 1988, received a Visual Arts Fellowship from the Arts Council of New Zealand in 1993, won the Visa Gold Art Award in 1994 and was a finalist in the 2002 Walters Art Prize. He has collaborated with the painter Ralph Hotere on the multi-panelled Winter Chrysanthemums, 1995 and also with the poet Leigh Davis on his boxed set of poems The Book of Hours, 2002.

IAN WEDDE (1946) is a poet, fiction writer, critic and art curator. Born in Blenheim, he spent the early part of his life living in East Pakistan and England. On return to New Zealand he attended King’s College, Auckland, going on to The University of Auckland where he gained a Master of Arts in English. From 1966 his poems began appearing regularly in journals including Landfall and Freed, and he has now published twelve collections of poems, four novels, a collection of short stories. His prolific essays in art criticism and cultural studies have been collected in How to be nowhere: essays and texts, 1971-1994 and Making Ends Meet: Essays and Talks 1992-2004.

Ian edited The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1985, with Harvey McQueen) and The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry (1989, with Harvey McQueen and Miriama Evans). He was the General Editor of Ralph Hotere: Black Light, which won the Illustrative Arts section of the 2001 Montana Book Awards, curated and edited Fomison, What Shall We Tell Them? (1994) and Now See Hear! Art, Language and Translation (1990, with Gregory Burke). Ian won the 1977 Book Award for Fiction for his first novel, Dick Seddon’s Great Dive and shared the 1978 NZ Book Award for Poetry for Spells for Coming Out. He was the Burns Fellow in 1972 and other recognition of his writing includes the Writers’ Bursary 1974, the Scholarship in Letters 1980 and 1989 and the Victoria University writing fellowship 1984. He was a member of the Literary Fund Advisory Committee 1977–79 and of the Queen Elizabeth II Visual Arts Panel in 1990. From 1994 to 2004 Ian was head of art and visual culture at Te Papa. In 2005 he was awarded the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship and in the same year published his latest poetry collection Three Regrets and a Hymn to Beauty and Making Ends Meet: Essays and Talks 1992-2004. In 2006 he was awarded a Fulbright Travel Award and published his most recent novel, The Viewing Platform.

Ian lives in Wellington with his partner Donna Malane, a television writer and producer.


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