Culture & Events

Award-winning Maaori artwork inspired by ancestors

Nana Pat, 2020, photograph by Bodie Friend, winner of the 2021 Kingii Tuheitia Portraiture Award

An exhibition of compelling portraits by Maaori artists has arrived at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

On tour by the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, the Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award is a showcase of finalists and highly-commended works from the inaugural competition. Waikato Museum is the first venue to host this travelling exhibition.

The Kingii Tuheitia Portraiture Award provides emerging Maaori artists with the opportunity to showcase their talents on the national stage, while also playing an important role in recording and celebrating tuupuna (ancestors) and their stories.

“This exhibition is full of contrast and variation, but there is deep-seated emotion that runs throughout,” said Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

“You can really feel the connection and respect that each of these artists has for their tiipuna and the generations that came before them.”

“It’s an honour to be the first in Aotearoa New Zealand to share these works.”

A partnership between the Office of the Kiingtanga and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, the award was launched last year in honour of Kiingi Tuheitia.

Entrants were tasked with creating an artwork with whakapapa (family history) connections to the depicted tupuna. The inaugural competition attracted portraits using a wide range of mediums including digital video, whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), photography, ceramics, and oil paintings.

“This competition is a chance for Maaori artists to shine and the Kiingitanga is proud to support the arts in this way,” said Archdeacon Ngira Simmonds, the Office of the Kiingitanga chief of staff.

“Sharing our whakapapa through art has always been important for our people. This award continues in that tradition and seeks to provide te iwi Maaori with an opportunity to engage in a new kaupapa that is exciting.”

The finalist artworks were judged by a panel of renowned New Zealand artists. These include tohunga taa moko and kapa haka exponent Sir Derek Lardelli; celebrated artist, teacher and activist, Kura Te Waru Rewiri; and artist Lisa Reihana, who is known around the world for her portraits and digital art.

In Wellington earlier this year, Bodie Friend from Waikato was announced the winner of the 2021 Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award and received a $20,000 cash prize.

Bodie’s work “Nana Pat” was chosen as the winner from an impressive 128 entries nationwide. The black and white photograph depicts his great-uncle Pat Kingi of Horahora Marae in Rangiriri, or as he’s more affectionately known, Nana Pat. Bodie’s iwi affiliations include Waikato, Ngaati Hikairo, Ngaati Maniapoto, Ngaati Apakura, Ngaati Puukenga, Tapuika, and Ngaati Porou.

The Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award is open at Waikato Museum from 8 December 2021, 10am to 5pm daily. Entry is free.

Image: Nana Pat, 2020, photograph by Bodie Friend, winner of the 2021 Kingii Tuheitia Portraiture Award

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