01 Dec 2020

This content is tagged as Ngā toi Māori .


Excellence celebrated in the 2020 Te Waka Toi Awards

The 34th Te Waka Toi Awards have recognised 13 outstanding Māori arts sector leaders and emerging artists across multiple artforms in this year’s signature awards event.

Renowned visual artist Robyn Kahukiwa has been named the Supreme Award winner in recognition of her extensive career as a painter, illustrator, sculptor and author, as well as her unyielding political and cultural commentary.

Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright says, “Te Reo Māori and Ngā Toi Māori are increasingly important in defining who we are as New Zealanders. Among this year’s recipients are some of the most innovative and challenging commentators of the Māori arts world and Creative New Zealand is once again proud to recognise their excellence and leadership that is particularly needed in this difficult year for the arts.” 

In response to changing COVID-19 alert levels, this year’s awards were held online in a one-hour award ceremony hosted by actor, singer and director, Mere Boynton.

“Moving to an online format has made it possible for a global audience to join us in recognising the outstanding achievements of these 13 recipients,” says Mere. 

“This is absolutely appropriate and inline with Creative New Zealand’s Māori arts strategy where  our vision is for Ngā Toi Māori to be visible everywhere and highly valued as part of New Zealand’s distinct identity which is admired globally,” continues Paula Carr, Senior Manager Māori Strategy & Partnerships, Creative New Zealand.

The awards recognise tohunga (experts), pūkenga (highly regarded) artists and community leaders across all customary and contemporary artforms. 

The Te Waka Toi Awards were made possible with support from partners Te Papa, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Matatini. 

Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Exemplary/Supreme Award

In recognition of leadership, excellence and outstanding contribution of a senior ngā toi Māori artist to the development of ngā Toi Māori.  $25,000 award.


Recipient: ROBYN KAHUKIWA (Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga a Hauiti)

Visual Arts, Author, Illustrator, Sculptor

Robyn Kahukiwa is renowned for affirming her strong Māori world view through her extensive body of paintings, illustrations, prints, sculptures and books.

Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka | Sir Kingi Ihaka Award recognising lifetime contribution

Awarded to kaumātua/kuia in recognition of their contribution to strengthening the continuity of Māori culture through their support of ngā Toi Māori. $15,000 for each recipient.

Whatarangi Winiata (Ngāti Raukawa)
Gabrielle Rikihana (Ngāti Raukawa)

Left: Whatarangi Winiata. Right: Gabrielle Rikihana.

Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa

Recognises the recipient’s outstanding contribution to ngā toi Māori. Funded and selected by Te Papa Tongarewa.  $5,000 award.

Recipient: Bob Jahnke (Ngāti Porou)

Bob Jahnke

Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi Making A Difference award

Recognises leadership and outstanding contribution to the development of new directions in Māori art. $10,000 each award. 

Baye Riddell (Ngāti Porou)
Tanea Heke (Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu)
Tama Waipara (Ruapani, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou)

Left: Baye Riddell. Middle: Tanea Heke. Right: Tama Waipara.

Te Tohu Whakamanawa o Te Matatini

Recognises the recipient’s outstanding contribution to Kapa Haka.  Funded and selected by Te Matatini $7,500 award.

Recipient:Tihi Puanaki (Ngāti Hine)

Tihi Puanaki

Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa

Recognises the contribution of a Māori artist with the lived experience of disability to the standing, and standard of Māori arts in New Zealand and/or internationally. $10,000 award. 

Inaugural Recipient: Rodney Bell (Ngāti Maniapoto)

Rodney Bell

Te Tohu aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi

Recognises the recipient’s outstanding work strengthening Te Reo Rangatira. Funded and selected by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori $10,00 award.

Recipient: Pere Wihongi (Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu)

Pere Wihongi 

Ngā Manu Pīrere

Recognises an emerging artist or collective showing potential in their artform. $10,000 per award. 


  • Ngā Hine Pūkōrero – Arihia Hall (Te Arawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Tukorehe), Terina Wichman-Evans (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Te Aupouri), Manaia Tuwhare-Hoani, Matariki Bennett (Te Arawa)

  • Ashleigh Taupaki  (Ngāti Hako)

  • Amy Rameka (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto)

Top: Ngā Hine Pūkōrero (Arihia Hall, Terina Wichman-Evans, Manaia Tuwhare-Hoani, Matariki Bennett). Bottom left: Ashleigh Taupaki. Bottom right: Amy Rameka.

Background of Ngā Taonga Toi a Te Waka Toi 

Since 1986, 291 leading Māori artists and practitioners have been recognised through these prestigious, national, annual awards that acknowledge excellence and achievement across all artforms including marae arts (traditional, marae-based artforms such as karanga,  carving, and weaving) as well as contemporary artforms such as theatre, literature, film, photography, sculpture and visual arts.

Three awards are open for public nomination: Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi - Making A Difference award, Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa Award and Ngā Manu Pīrere Award. Three awards are selected by sponsor partners and seven awards are selected by a Māori arts panel. For the first time the Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa award is presented to recognise the contribution of a leading Māori artist with a lived disability. Past Te Waka Toi recipients can be found on Creative New Zealand’s website.  

Media queries

Tere Harrison
Senior Communications Adviser (Māori) | Kaiārahi Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero (Māori)
E: tere.harrison@creativenz.govt.nz