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Awards celebrate excellence in Pacific arts

Friday 17 November

Awards celebrate excellence in Pacific arts

Six of New Zealand’s top Pacific artists were honoured at the Arts Pasifika Awards 2006, which encourage and celebrate excellence in Pacific arts in New Zealand.

The awards were hosted at Parliament by the Associate Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, the Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban on Friday 17 November.

Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Committee Chairperson Pele Walker said these are the only awards in New Zealand aimed at professional Pacific artists.

“All of the Arts Pasifika Award winners in 2006 have performed or exhibited internationally. Their work illustrates not only the richness and diversity of Pacific arts, but also the valuable contribution it makes to New Zealand’s international profile as a creative Pacific nation,” Pele Walker said.

Auckland visual artist Jim Vivieaere (Cook Islands) was awarded the $7000 Senior Pacific Artists’ Award.

Vivieaere has been active in the visual arts community for more than 20 years and is highly regarded as an artist, curator and advisor. He has exhibited widely and traveled extensively.

A past recipient of the Möet & Chandon artist-in-residence, France (1993) he has work in Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and collections in Australia and Germany.

Auckland-based Tau Fuata Niue was awarded the $5000 Pacific Heritage Arts Award as a cultural group that has made a major contribution to maintaining, reviving or promoting a Pacific heritage art form in New Zealand.

Group founder and chairman Sene Falakoa had a vision to “keep our culture alive” through song and dance when he formed the group in 2001. It is the only all male Niuean dance group in Oceania.

They have performed at festivals around New Zealand; at the world premier of Lord of the Rings in Wellington in 2003; Shanghai Bashan Folk Art Festival, China 2004; and festivals in Brazil in August 2006. They have invitations to festivals in Australia, Europe and the USA in the next two years.

Original and highly imaginative film maker Sima Urale (Samoa), from Wellington, received the $5000 Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award.

A graduate of Toi Whakaari, Wellington and the Victorian College of the Arts, Film and Television School, Melbourne, Australia, she was the first to be awarded the Fulbright Creative New Zealand three-month Pacific writers residency in Hawaii, in 2004.

She has won 18 film awards, 12 of them international, for her short films and documentaries and is currently in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, developing a film script at the Binger Filmlab.

Visual artist, curator and artistic director Loretta Young (Samoa) was awarded the $3000 Salamander Gallery Award for Emerging Pacific Visual Artists.

Young has exhibited in New Zealand, Samoa and Australia and was part of the Bottled Ocean exhibition of New Zealand Pacific Island artists in 1994-1995.

Based in Perth, Western Australia, Aivale Cole (Samoa) received the $3000 Iosefa Enari Memorial Award, Pacific Opera.

A semi-finalist in the prestigious Mobil Song Quest, Cole premiered the Samoan opera Classical Polynesia at the International Festival of the Arts in Wellington and sang the leading role of the Taupo (virgin bride) in Ifoga at the Christchurch Arts Festival. She has recorded a solo piece with the NZSO for the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Rings.

Her international experience includes a recital at the South Pacific Festival in Noumea and she was invited to perform a solo piece for the South Pacific University Graduation in Fiji.

Poet, performer and children’s book writer Tusiata Avia (Samoa) of Christchurch received the $3000 Emerging Pacific Artists Award.

Her first book of poetry Wild Dogs Under my Skirt received critical acclaim and in 2006 was short-listed for the Prize in Modern Letters. She has performed a show of the same name throughout New Zealand and overseas.

She has participated in international poetry festivals in The Netherlands and Belgium; was invited as a participant and performer at the Women and Writing Festival in Morocco last year; and she is currently in Jerusalem, Israel at the 7th Annual International Poetry Festival at Mishkenot Shananim.

Winnie Laban said the awards recognise both traditional and contemporary Pacific art and profile all Pacific art forms at a range of career stages.

“The works being produced by this year’s winners are adding to the vibrancy of the arts in New Zealand and internationally. Their work is seen as fresh, new, and with a unique Pacific flavour,” Winnie Laban said.

“These award recipients show that there is huge potential for Pacific artists to develop strong, sustainable, professional careers in the arts.”


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