13 Dec 2022
Niuean-Fijian Annafinau Tukuitoga received the Creative New Zealand ‘Arts, Culture and Creativity Award' at a ceremony for the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards at the Beehive, 12 December.
This award recognises a young Pacific person who has demonstrated a significant level of achievement in the arts or creative fields or has used the arts or creative fields to affect positive change in their community. This year, the award was supported under the Pacific Arts Strategy 2018-2023, through a partnership with the Ministry of Pacific Peoples (MPP).
Annafinau is from Paeroa, Waikato, and is passionate about country music and supporting her family. Over the past year, she has been the New Zealand Country Music Youth Ambassador, and is also the youth MP representative for Scott Simpson in the Coromandel region.
Annafinau says she’s looking forward to studying commercial music at Massey University next year.
“It's not common to see a brown face in Country music! I play the banjo and I yodel - my biggest achievement would be just being me in a space where it’s not common,” says Annafinau.
“I dedicate this award to the strong women in my family – women who have shaped my world, and I wouldn’t be me without them.”
“Tonight, I also pay tribute to a man who influenced my childhood – the late Terry Magaoa Chapman – who stated, “You cannot eat culture, but you will go hungry without it.”
Ane Tonga, a member of the Arts Council – Creative New Zealand’s governing body – presented the award, and says Creative New Zealand is proud to partner with MPP to support the next generation of Pasifika leaders.
“We’re honoured to be here with Annafinau and her loved ones – she is a remarkable young leader and I’m excited to see more from her in the future,” Ane said.
“It’s important to recognise the significant contribution that our young Pasifika peoples make to our society. Supporting creative Pasifika youth is a priority for our Pacific Arts Strategy, and aligns with the Vaka and Vā pou. Pasifika peoples are a youthful demographic – over 55% are aged 25-years and younger – and when we empower our young people, we empower whole communities.”
“Tau ui fakamonuina he fakamailoga kua moua e Annafinau! Congratulations!”
To watch the full recorded livestream of the 2022 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards, visit the Ministry of Pacific People’s Facebook page.