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2019 recipient of Fulbright-Creative NZ Writer's Residency


This year’s Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency at the University of Hawai’i has been awarded to Oscar Kightley.

Oscar is an award-winning journalist, writer, playwright, actor, presenter and director from Auckland. He was a 2006 Arts Foundation Laureate Award winner and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 for services to theatre and television.

As part of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency he will network with the local creative community through writing and lectures, undertake research within the Samoan community in Hawai’i, and work on a new screenplay. Oscar was born in Samoa and immigrated to New Zealand with his mother when he was four years old.

Arts Council Deputy Chair Caren Rangi says, “As an accomplished artist, Oscar Kightley is a fantastic recipient of this prestigious award and well placed to continue to tell the unique stories of Pasifika peoples from Aotearoa.”

“Creative New Zealand is proud to partner with Fulbright New Zealand for this wonderful annual opportunity for Pasifika writers to work on a project at the University of Hawai’i. This partnership arrangement is a key contributor to Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Strategy 2018 – 2023 for a thriving Pacific arts community,” she says.

Oscar spent one week as an artist resident at the University of Hawai’i in Mānoa in 2007, shortly after the hit movie Sione’s Wedding, which he co-wrote and acted in, was released. He says he looks forward to reconnecting with the writers and community in Hawai’i next year.

“Those networks are still there. I would be looking to reconnect and deepen not only those links, but I’d like to encourage collaboration with writers from different mediums,” Oscar says.

Oscar co-founded Pacific Underground and the Island Players theatre company and won the Bruce Mason playwrights’ award in 1998. His plays include Romeo & Tusi, Dawn Raids, A Frigate Bird Sings, Fresh off the Boat and Niu Sila. He was a founding member of The Naked Samoans, and has worked as a performer and writer for a number of television shows. He co-wrote the popular Bro’ Town which won Best Comedy at NZ Screen Awards 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2013 Oscar wrote and directed his first dramatic short, Tom's Diary which won best short at a film festival in Belize. He also wrote for the gritty television police drama Harry, in which he played the dramatic lead.

“As a Pasifika writer, director and storyteller I am lucky to live in a country like New Zealand whose institutions have helped grow and develop Pasifika storytelling. I’ve been able to enjoy a long career during which I’ve written for the stage, small and big screens,” he says.

“While in Hawai’i I would like to attend and give talks in which I can draw on my professional experience, to help indigenous writers based in Hawai’i, in any small way that I can.”

Oscar will be based at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu for three months early next year. Hawai‘i has been identified as a strategic location for artists and is considered the hub of Pacific writing with numerous universities, library resources, networks, writers’ forums and publishers. It is also an important link to the mainland US and has a strong indigenous culture.

Oscar and the other 2019 Fulbright Grantees will be honoured at the annual Fulbright New Zealand Awards Ceremony at Parliament on Monday 17 June 2019, hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Rt. Hon Winston Peters.

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