Leaders of today and tomorrow celebrated with 2015 Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards
Talented artists, innovators and leaders are being recognised for their outstanding contribution to Pacific arts at this year’s Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards. Among the winners is Neil Ieremia, internationally renowned choreographer and founder of dance company Black Grace, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Established in 1996, the annual awards acknowledge the richness, diversity and excellence of Pacific art in Aotearoa, with awards for emerging and established artists and for heritage and contemporary art forms.
“We are thrilled to honour and celebrate the contribution of these incredible creative achievers to the arts of the Pacific and to Aotearoa’s unique identity,” says Caren Rangi, a Pacific representative on the Arts Council of New Zealand.
The awards will be presented at a vibrant ceremony in Wellington on Wednesday 4 November 2015.
Senior Pacific Artist Award – Neil Ieremia ($10,000)
Of Samoan heritage, Neil Ieremia is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished choreographers, a creative entrepreneur and inspirational leader. Motivated to provide a different perspective and a fresh voice in the dance scene, Neil founded his own company, Black Grace, in 1995, with ten male dancers of Pacific, Māori and New Zealand heritage. Black Grace has since become a recognisable and iconic cultural brand in New Zealand and the company receives support under Creative New Zealand’s Toi Tōtara Haemata leadership programme. His company tours the length and breadth of New Zealand developing new audiences and a new appreciation for dance. Internationally Neil’s work has been presented in Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Caledonia, South Korea, Scotland, Switzerland and the United States of America. Among his many other achievements, Neil has received a 2005 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award, and the 2009 Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts from The Banff Centre, Canada. Most recently Black Grace received a Herald Angel Award at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (Read DANZ magazine article: Black Grace - Twenty Years)
Contemporary Pacific Artist Award – Lonnie Hutchinson ($5,000)
Auckland born and raised Lonnie Hutchinson works in the fields of drawing, sculpture, installation and moving image, and has a Bachelor of 3D Design from Unitec. Of Ngai Tahu, Samoan and European descent, Lonnie is increasingly driven by research into her Māori and Polynesian heritage with particular focus on women’s customary arts and practises. As well as a prolific exhibiting career both nationally and internationally, she has been awarded a number of international residencies and awards and has made work for numerous large scale public commissions. She was the first female artist awarded the prestigious Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies residency programme at the University of Canterbury, and was also a recipient of the first International Indigenous Art residency in 2003 at The Banff Centre in Canada.
Special Recognition Award – Lisa Taouma ($5,000)
Samoan screen veteran Lisa Taouma has worked in moving image for many years, making short films, documentaries and creating the online portal Thecoconet.tv for Pacific heritage arts and moving image. Having grown up in Samoa, the talented producer, director, curator, writer and former journalist is passionate about creating our own narratives as Pacific people and sharing these with the world. Lisa has numerous Pasifika screen credits to her name, has curated exhibitions and written extensively for scholarly publications on representation of Polynesia in art. She was a senior director for Tagata Pasifika for many years, helmed TV2’s Polyfest and produces popular Pasifika youth show Fresh on TV2. Lisa’s company Tikilounge Productions received the 2015 NZ On Air ‘Techno Tusitala Award’ for breaking new ground with Thecoconet.tv and connecting Pacific youth with their roots. Lisa works with the Tikilounge Productions crew to nurture young up-and-coming Pacific talent across the arts spectrum. She has an MA (first class honours) from Auckland University, as well as diplomas in Journalism (Manukau Polytechnic) and Film and Television (Unitec).
Pacific Heritage Arts Award – Joana Monolagi ($5,000)
Joana Monolagi has made a significant contribution to maintaining, reviving and promoting Fijian heritage arts in Aotearoa since she migrated here in 1975. She was born in the small sugar town of Ba and is from the village of Serua Island, Viti Levu. Mrs Monolagi’s art practice maintains strong links back to her homeland in Fiji, while at the same time adapting to her new home in Aotearoa. Auckland-based Mrs Monolagi enjoys working with arts from her Fijian heritage such as canvas collages, masi (Fijian barkcloth) printing, creating Fijian costumes, teaching Fijian meke (dance) and telling Fijian stories. She has widely exhibited her works in both mainstream and cultural contexts, nationally and internationally. She is also very involved with her Fijian community in Auckland, wider New Zealand and in Fiji. She has been the Fijian Coordinator for the Fiji village at Auckland’s annual Pasifika Festival for the last 15 years.
Iosefa Enari Memorial Award – Manase Latu ($4,000)
Of Tongan descent, Manase Latu was exposed to music at a very young age through his cultural heritage and religion. Manase is currently in his second year of study at The University of Auckland, pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice performance with Dr. Te Oti Rakena, and Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting. In 2012, Manase began private singing lessons with Lachlan Craig, and from here his passion and dreams for Classical music and opera started. He is currently an active member of the Auckland Chamber Choir, New Zealand Youth Choir, Age of discovery, Klapa Samoana, SOTO VOCE and Voices New Zealand Chamber choir. This year Manase sung as a soloist for a number of oratorios with various choirs around the country. He wishes to focus more on his vocal development as a soloist and one day move into the opera realm.
Emerging Pacific Artist Award – Ane Tonga ($4,000)
Ane Tonga is a practicing artist, curator and writer of Tongan descent, from the villages of Vaini and Kolofo’ou. In a relatively short period of time, Ane has gained recognition as a prominent emerging talent in each of these creative roles. Ane graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from the Elam School of Fine Arts where she was awarded both a Summer Scholarship and the Olympus Photography Prize. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum and Cultural Heritage. Ane was the first Pacific Island recipient of the Blumhardt Foundation Curatorial Internship at the Dowse Art Museum in Wellington in 2012. Her 2014 exhibition Grills at Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland was ground breaking – it was the first time a Pasifika female artist had held a solo exhibition at Gus Fisher Gallery, and the first artistic and academic exploration of nifo koula (gold teeth) in Tongan culture.