Celebrating the best of Māori arts with Te Waka Toi Awards
Some of our country’s most talented and dedicated tohunga, artists and community leaders have been honoured for their
outstanding contribution to Māori arts.
The annual Te Waka Toi Awards, held in Wellington on Saturday 31 August, are the only national Māori arts awards to
celebrate all artforms. Established in 1986, they recognise achievement in oratory, literature, music and performance,
object and visual arts. Two scholarships are also awarded to emerging artists.
“These amazing people are enriching many lives and communities with their impressive careers and contributions to
customary and contemporary Māori arts,” said Darrin Haimona, Chair of Te Waka Toi, the Māori arts board of Creative New
“It is a privilege to be able to recognise and celebrate their passion, generosity and devotion to promoting and
preserving Māori arts.”
Acclaimed contemporary Māori artist Darcy Nicholas, QSO (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Ruanui, Tauranga Moana) has received the supreme award, Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. Mr Nicholas has been actively involved in the contemporary Māori art movement since the late 1960s. He has exhibited
nationally and internationally, and his distinctive work is held in many private and public collections world-wide.
Making a difference to the arts
Te Tohu Toi Kē a Te Waka Toi has been awarded to renowned actor, writer and director Rāwiri Paratene, ONZM (Ngāpuhi). The first Māori student to graduate from the New Zealand Drama School, he has been a stalwart of New Zealand
stage and screen for more than 30 years.
Lifetimes of service to Māori arts
Kaumātua and kuia who have devoted their lives to Māori arts were honoured with Ngā Tohu a Tā Kingi Ihaka.
• Fred Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Raukawa) – Tohunga contemporary sculptor. An important figure in Māori art since the early
1960s, Mr Graham’s paintings and sculptural works are many and varied, but his central themes are inspired by Māori
traditions and legends.
• Dr Hohepa (Joseph) Mason, QSO, PhD (Honoris Causa) (Ngāti Awa) – oral arts. Dr Mason has for many decades been an unwavering supporter of his iwi and hapu. Renowned as a
holder of customary knowledge, Dr Mason remains an active member of Te Kāhui Kaumātua, the principal advisory body for
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa. He is highly regarded as a custodian of hapu whakapapa, waiata and the history surrounding the
exploits of many tribal tipuna.
• Renée, ONZM (Ngāti Kahungunu) – feminist, dramatist and fiction writer (theatre and literature). Renée has been involved with
community theatre, the Broadsheet Collective, PEN, radio shows, and since the 1950s has been involved in many community
projects and campaigns to promote equal opportunity and human rights.
• Rore Hapipi (Rowley Habib) (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) – playwright, poet and author. Mr Hapipi is one of the first writers to bring a genuinely Māori perspective to New
Zealand stage and screen. His play Death of the Land is seen as a landmark in the development of Māori theatre.
• Tiwi Black (Tūhoe, Whānau a Apanui) – oral arts. Mr Black has been a long time servant of his community, hapū and iwi, supporting
marae, schools, the Rūātoki Sports and Cultural Club, and Te Kapa Haka o Te Karu. He has been an integral part of Te Hui
Ahurei a Tūhoe since the first hui over 40 years ago.
Strengthening the Māori language
Dr Patu Hohepa, PhD, MA (Ngāpuhi, Te Ātiawa) has been awarded Te Tohu Aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi. As a former Professor of Māori language and former Commissioner of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Dr Hohepa has
dedicated more than 40 years of his life researching, developing, lecturing and advocating for the revitalisation of te
Two special awards to recognise contributions to revitalising heritage Māori arts – Te Tohu a Te Waka Toi
• Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby, MBE (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu) – Tohunga and leading figure in the revival of traditional Polynesian navigation and ocean
voyaging using wayfinding techniques. The master waka builder and traditional navigator has built at least 30 waka,
including several waka hourua (double-hulled sailing waka) – most notable, Te Aurere.
• Jack Thatcher (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga) is a master celestial navigator. He joined
traditional waka hourua Te Aurere in 1992 and has been the navigator since 1995. Mr Thatcher was chief navigator of a recent epic voyage to Rapanui
(Easter Island) and back.
Two scholarship winners – Ngā Karahipi a Te Waka Toi
• Deane-Rose Marie Ngatai (Ngāti Porou) is studying towards a Master of Design at the Unitec Institute of Technology. Her work explores,
investigates and showcases the diversity of Māori identity in urban settings using photography and new media.
• Damen Joe (Waikato/Tainui) holds a Master of Art and Design (AUT University) and is studying extramurally for a Masters of
Preventative Conservation from Northumbria University in the UK. He currently works in this field at the Auckland
Library as a conservation technician.