11 Oct 2023
The winners of our Arts Pasifika Awards have been announced for 2023. The majority of awards are taken out by female Pacific creatives, with two winners in the Senior Pacific Artist category.
Across the seven award categories, a wide range of Pacific creatives are being recognised for their contribution to Pacific arts – from Niuean handcrafts to Augmented Reality design.
The only national awards for Pasifika artists across all artforms, this vibrant annual event celebrates Pacific creative excellence in Aotearoa and globally.
Trail-blazing visual artists Lonnie Hutchinson and Ani O’Neill both win the Senior Pacific Artist Award. This is the second time two artists have won in this category, with Oscar Kightley and David Fane winning in 2016.
Lonnie (Ngāti kuri ki Ngāi Tahu, Samoan, Celtic), who is from Christchurch and creates large scale sculpture, says she is thrilled.
“I’m grateful to be joining the prestigious list of past winners in this category, alongside Ani. My work challenges dominant patriarchal narratives, highlighting Māori and Pacific Island experiences – so to be acknowledged in this context, amongst all Pasifika artists, is a joy.”
Caren Rangi, Chair of the Arts Council, says the Arts Pasifika Awards play a significant role in celebrating Pacific creativity in Aotearoa.
“I’m particularly proud of the fact that many of our winning artists this year are also passionate advocates for the Pacific community,” says Caren.
“Their influence transcends beyond the creative sector – they're not only making outstanding work but also using their platforms to give back. Many of them are educators, Lavinia is also a youth worker and Falepipi He Malofa’s creative work began as an opportunity for members of the senior Niuean community to come together. When our Pacific creatives thrive, our whole village benefits.”
The Pacific Toa Award, which recognises the contribution of a Pasifika artist with the lived experience of disability, is now in its fifth year, and is one of the many significant opportunities and initiatives developed under the Pacific Arts Strategy.
The 2023 winner of this award, Lavinia Lovo, has a passion for Pacific dance and also advocates for Pasifika youth with visible and invisible disabilities.
“The arts have always allowed me to express myself beyond the limits of my disability and this recognition motivates me to continue to support Pasifika youth to push boundaries,” she says.
“The Toa Award means a lot to me I’m looking forward to celebrating Pacific excellence on the night of the Awards ceremony.”
The in-person ceremony will be held in Wellington on Wednesday18 October and will be livestreamed on our social media channels.
The selection process for these awards begins with public nominations, followed by robust assessment including external Pacific arts experts and a panel which makes recommendations to the Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand. The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa reviews the recommendations and makes the final decisions.
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Senior Pacific Artist Award
Recognises a Pasifika artist’s commitment to their practice and mana within the community.
Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāti kuri ki Ngāi Tahu, Samoan, Celtic)
Lonnie is a leading multi-disciplinary artist whose work is held in both private and public collections around Aotearoa and internationally. Her practice comments astutely on aspects of indigeneity in the contemporary world. Lonnie’s signature cut-out work extends across a range of materials, including black builder’s paper, vintage wallpapers, acrylic, steel and aluminum. She uses various motifs that reference her cultural heritage and comment on ancient tradition and the effects of colonisation; fusing the personal and political.
Lonnie has created a number of public commissioned works around Aotearoa, including Hamilton Gardens, Auckland’s Britomart, and Central Ōtautahi. She has also taught Art and Art History and Theory in various colleges and universities in Australasia, and has had management roles for various arts organisations. In 2000, Hutchinson was the first female artist recipient of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies residency at the University of Canterbury, and was also a recipient of the first International Indigenous Art residency at the Banff Art Centre, in Alberta, Canada in 2003.
Ani O'Neill (Ngāti Makea, Ngāti Te Tika)
Ani is a New Zealand artist of Cook Island and Irish descent. Ani graduated with a BFA in Sculpture at Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 1994. Now considered a pioneer in Aotearoa’s Contemporary Pacific Arts scene, Ani has had a prolific exhibiting career, both nationally and internationally, as a solo artist, and as a key member of the Pacific Sisters Collective. Ani’s work is rooted in techniques and perspectives from both her mother’s homeland of Rarotonga and her birthplace within the Pacific Diaspora of Auckland, New Zealand. The techniques that form the foundations of Ani’s practice are inspired by her grandmother’s teachings of Cook Islands material and ceremonial culture, and are experienced through making craft, installation, objects, and performance. An ongoing thread throughout Ani’s practice is to honour the gift of generational knowledge, sharing this taonga through education and collaboration as a core part of Moana Pasifika philosophy.
Pacific Toa Award
Recognises the contribution of a Pasifika artist with the lived experience of disability to Pacific arts nationally or internationally.
Lavinia is a Samoan-Tongan rangatahi and a wheelchair user, who credits her tenacity and perseverance to the determination of her parents to raise her to not accept the limitations of her disability. Lavinia was drawn to Pacific arts from a young age as it enabled her to communicate through movement and dance, what she wasn’t able to communicate verbally. Over time Lavinia’s passion for Pacific dance and arts grew, providing her with a way to connect with Pacific cultures, and to be seen as an artist, not just a disabled person. Lavinia is a major advocate for Pasifika youth with visible and invisible disabilities. She helped to found Nesian – a performing arts group for Pacific youth with disabilities, and she is the I.Lead & Pacific Projects Co-ordinator at YES Te Whare Whaikaha. Lavinia is also an experienced youth worker and sits on many Pacific panels. Lavinia incorporates a Pacific youth perspective into her work to increase resilience, wellbeing, participation and visibility of Pacific rangatahi.
Pacific Heritage Artist Award
Recognises a major contribution by a Pasifika artist to maintaining, reviving or promoting a Pacific heritage artform in New Zealand.
Losalia Milika Pusiaki Fifita
Milika has contributed greatly to Tongan Arts in Aotearoa. She comes from a line of Tongan Dance choreographers and is a close relative of the Late Queen Salote of Tonga. Milika founded the Fe'unukoula Academy of Tongan Arts, Dance and Culture in 1996, and in the years since, has taught many young people about Tongan language and culture through oratory and performance. In 2022, Milika authored a book that speaks to the importance of Tongan choreography. She has also established a Tongan women’s artisan group in Auckland, where female artists can share their creative skills with others. She is currently pursuing her PhD as Dr of Philosophy in Indigenous Knowledge and has recently established a not-for-profit organization to help with the preservation of Pacific Heritage Arts.
Pacific Contemporary Artist Award
Recognises a Pasifika artist who has demonstrated artistic innovation in their arts practice.
Katrina is a Niuean multidisciplinary artist with a materiality-based background, who has received global recognition as a prominent figure in Augmented reality. Katrina's expertise extends across creative technology Augmented Reality (AR) design and development, creative technology, VR, 3D modeling, animation, digital sculpting, and illustration. Katrina has exhibited internationally, including in Paris and Vancouver, and she’s been part of many national programs and initiatives. Katrina is committed to arts education, ethics in design methodologies, and the cultivation of safe, inclusive environments. Her work aims to preserve and showcase Pacific perspectives within the global digital landscape. Katrina’s work with NFTS (Non-Fungible Tokens) is a testament to her ability to push the boundaries of traditional art forms. She is passionate about using NFTs to explore digital art and the role of preservation and technology in the art world.
Special Recognition Award
Recognises a special contribution to Pacific arts, nationally or internationally.
Falepipi he Mafola Niuean Handcraft Inc
Over the past 30 years, Falepipi he Mafola Niuean Handcraft Inc. have played a crucial role in continuing and preserving Niuean cultural knowledge and practices in Aotearoa. Founding members include Molima Molly Pihigia QSM and her late husband Fataiki Pihigia, from the Niue villages of Tuapa Uhomotu, Alofi and Namukulu. Members that joined later are from Makefu, Liku, Hikutavake, Hakupu, Avatele, Tamakautoga, Mutalau and Toi. The group was established to provide a nurturing space for elders and their families to foster wellbeing, independence and maintain their identity as Niueans living in Aotearoa. They have been meeting at Ōtāhuhu Town Hall Community Centre in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland every Thursday from 10am to 2pm since 1993 and continue to this very day. When they celebrated their 30th Anniversary earlier this year they honoured the over 50 loved ones that have since passed on, and the wealth of knowledges, skills and wisdom of their current living tāoga, treasures.
Emerging Pacific Artist Award
Recognises a Pasifika artist at an early stage in their career showing promise and potential.
David is an Auckland-born, Samoan indie-rock musician who is co-director of Noa Records, and a creative practitioner and advocate for Pacific arts. Known for their innovative, high-energy performances, David’s music is influenced by traditional Samoan-pop staples The Samoan Surfriders, Punialava'a, and The Five Stars, with contemporary rock 'n' roll thrown in. David’s most significant musical project, LEAO, weaves together traditional fa’asamoa and their own diasporic experience, exploring themes of rediscovery and reconnection, channelled into a sonic vā. In bridging traditional perceptions of fa’asamoa and unconventional forms of Pasifika music, LEAO shines a light on flowering creative possibilities and the forgotten homes to which we are rooted - allowing them to share life through each other.
Iosefa Enari Memorial Award
Supports the career development of a Pasifika singer, musician or composer across all classical genres and career stages.
Hayden is an Aotearoa-born, 26-year-old Samoan artist, and a classically trained violinist. Hayden performs regularly in Orchestra Wellington and Hawkes Bay Orchestra, and occasionally joins the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He is the principal violinist for Gemini Quintet and Gallery Orchestra. Earlier this year, Hayden led the string quartet for Hip-Hop and Strings at CubaDupa; he performed at the opening of Kia Mau Festival; and he led the string section for the recording of Arjuna Oakes’ live studio album.
Alongside performing, Hayden is committed to music education and accessibility. Specifically, removing obstacles for children who would otherwise be unable to receive orchestral music education. He recently taught with Virtuoso Strings Orchestra in Porirua and he is the artistic director and a senior tutor at the award-winning Arohanui Strings. Hayden has also toured an interactive school's chamber music concert with the Martinborough Music Festival three times and has plans to tour it in schools across the whenua in future. Hayden is an active community volunteer in Wellington, and is also upskilling as a participant in the NZSO/Creative New Zealand Pasifika Conductor's Fellowship program.