Press Release – Creative New Zealand
The creators of internationally acclaimed theatre, courageous South Auckland art exhibitions and education programmes on heritage arts are among the winners of this year’s Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards.
Established in 1996, the awards celebrate Pacific achievement across all artforms and were broadened this year to include even more quality Pacific artists. As well as opera singers, the Iosefa Enari Memorial Award now recognises musicians or composers from all classical genres and career stages.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Wellington on 14 November.
“These unique awards celebrate Pacific artists who have helped to shape the New Zealand arts landscape,” says Pele Walker, Chair of the Pacific Arts Committee of Creative New Zealand. “Their work, and the promise shown by the emerging artists, gives a strong voice to Pasifika art, identity and culture in Aotearoa.”
Senior Pacific Artist
Lemi Ponifasio, founder and director of one of New Zealand’s most prolific international contemporary dance and theatre companies MAU, has won the Senior Pacific Artist Award. Ritual and ceremony are central to Lemi’s work, transforming Polynesian traditions into radically modern theatre with a strong political message. An acknowledged pioneer in contemporary Pacific theatre and dance, Lemi recently directed the opera Prometheus at the Ruhrtriennale festival in Germany. His award winning work Birds with Sky Mirrors was a favourite among audiences of the New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012 and like many of his other epic productions, it received resounding praise from European audiences. Under Lemi’s directorship, MAU (formed in 1995 and named after the Samoan independence movement) has performed at major international theatres and festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival, Theatre de la Ville Paris and the Venice Biennale. Lemi was an Arts Laureate Award winner in 2011 and received the Contemporary Pacific Art Award at the Arts Pasifika Awards in 2004.
Contemporary Pacific Artist
South Auckland-based curator Ema Tavola, is the recipient of the Contemporary Pacific Artist Award. Now self-employed as a Pacific art advocate, Ema was the “young and vivacious” manager of Fresh Gallery Otara for six years. In that time she established a reputation for bringing provocative, courageous and inspiring exhibitions to the South Auckland community, designed for and with its members. Ema’s vision has created opportunities for others, both artists and audiences. Born in Suva, Ema is a trained visual artist and has curated over 80 exhibitions. The late Jim Viviaere helped her to see curating as a valid extension of visual arts practice. “I saw that it was about relationships, presentation, hosting, advocacy and writing -I loved it”. Ema was an Associate Curator for the recent, Home AKL exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
For over 20 years a group of Pacific artists in Auckland, under the leadership of Cook Islands born Mary Ama, have met regularly to share, revive and grow Pacific arts and culture. Today Mary and the women who work with her (the Mamas) are the “heart and soul” of the Corban Estate Arts Centre’s Pacific Arts and Cultural Centre. The winners of this year’s Pacific Heritage Arts Award run regular public education classes to teach the essence and diversity of Pacific arts and cultures, they also support local artists and contribute to economic and community development. Mary is an expert in the art of tīvaevae – Cook Island quilt making. She is the Pacific Island Arts Advocate for Auckland Council, a prison art tutor and was instrumental in establishing the Waitakere Pacifica Living Arts Festival, an event that draws crowds of 15,000.
Iosefa Enari Memorial Award
Samoan soprano Isabella Moore has won the Iosefa Enari Memorial Award. The 22-year-old was a semi-finalist in this year’s prestigious Lexus Song Quest and won the Radio New Zealand Listeners’ Choice Award for her performance. In 2011 she won first place in the Own Selection category of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Aria competition. As the granddaughter of renowned poet and writer Emeritus Professor Albert Wendt, and the partner of Lexus Song Quest winner Amitai Pati, Isabella is surrounded by high level achievement in the arts. Now a student at Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music, Isabella has also trained at the New Zealand Opera School and plans to advance her studies internationally and complete a Masters of Music.
Emerging Pacific Artist
Dancer Justin Haiu is the recipient of the Emerging Pacific Artist Award. Justin has worked with legendary choreographer Michael Parmenter, toured award winning work internationally and won coveted awards. With a background in street theatre and hip hop performance, Justin received his formal training at Brent Street School of Performing Arts in Sydney. He then became a cast member of Disney’s Theatre Production The Lion King. A founding member of the New Zealand Dance Company, Justin incorporates his Wallis and Futuna heritage into contemporary choreography. On a dance residency in Noumea in 2009, Justin learned the traditional war dance, soamako and has blended this relatively unseen style of dance, of his Uvean father, into his work and teaching of aspiring Pacific dancers. Justin was a finalist in the 2006 television show So You Think You Can Dance, won the inaugural Pacific Dance Artist in Residence in 2010 and was the Overall Winner at the 2012 Short and Sweet Dance Festival.