Oscar Kightley named 2019 recipient of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency
Oscar Kightley, 2019 recipient of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency
Wednesday 12 June 2019
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, 12 June 2019 — This year’s Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency at the
University of Hawai’i has been awarded to Oscar Kightley.
Oscar is an award-winning journalist, writer, playwright, actor, presenter and director from Auckland. He was a 2006
Arts Foundation Laureate Award winner and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 for services to
theatre and television.
As part of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency he will network with the local creative
community through writing and lectures, undertake research within the Samoan community in Hawai’i, and work on a new
screenplay. Oscar was born in Samoa and immigrated to New Zealand with his mother when he was four years old.
Arts Council Deputy Chair Caren Rangi says, “As an accomplished artist, Oscar Kightley is a fantastic recipient of this
prestigious award and well placed to continue to tell the unique stories of Pasifika peoples from Aotearoa.”
“Creative New Zealand is proud to partner with Fulbright New Zealand for this wonderful annual opportunity for Pasifika
writers to work on a project at the University of Hawai’i. This partnership arrangement is a key contributor to Creative
New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Strategy 2018 – 2023 for a thriving Pacific arts community,” she says.
Oscar spent one week as an artist resident at the University of Hawai’i in Mānoa in 2007, shortly after the hit movie Sione’s Wedding, which he co-wrote and acted in, was released. He says he looks forward to reconnecting with the writers and community
in Hawai’i next year.
“Those networks are still there. I would be looking to reconnect and deepen not only those links, but I’d like to
encourage collaboration with writers from different mediums,” Oscar says.
Oscar co-founded Pacific Underground and the Island Players theatre company and won the Bruce Mason playwrights’ award
in 1998. His plays include Romeo & Tusi, Dawn Raids, A Frigate Bird Sings, Fresh off the Boat and Niu Sila. He was a founding member of The Naked Samoans, and has worked as a performer and writer for a number of television
shows. He co-wrote the popular Bro’ Town which won Best Comedy at NZ Screen Awards 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2013 Oscar wrote and directed his first dramatic
short, Tom's Diary which won best short at a film festival in Belize. He also wrote for the gritty television police drama Harry, in which he played the dramatic lead.
“As a Pasifika writer, director and storyteller I am lucky to live in a country like New Zealand whose institutions have
helped grow and develop Pasifika storytelling. I’ve been able to enjoy a long career during which I’ve written for the
stage, small and big screens,” he says.
“While in Hawai’i I would like to attend and give talks in which I can draw on my professional experience, to help
indigenous writers based in Hawai’i, in any small way that I can.”
Oscar will be based at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies
at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu for three months early next year. Hawai‘i has been identified as a
strategic location for artists and is considered the hub of Pacific writing with numerous universities, library
resources, networks, writers’ forums and publishers. It is also an important link to the mainland US and has a strong
Oscar and the other 2019 Fulbright Grantees will be honoured at the annual Fulbright New Zealand Awards Ceremony at
Parliament on Monday 17 June 2019, hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Rt. Hon Winston Peters.
About The Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency
The Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency is for a mid-career or senior New Zealand writer of
Pacific heritage to carry out work on a creative writing project exploring Pacific identity, culture or history at the
University of Hawai‘i for three months. One award valued at NZ$30,000 is granted each year, towards three months of
The recipient is based at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu for
either the Fall (August-November) or Spring (February-May) semester of the US academic year.
Previous grantees have included authors Sarona Aiono-Iosefa and Marisa Maepu, multi-disciplinary writer and artist
Jessica Hansell a.k.a. Coco Solid, poets Tusiata Avia and Daren Kamali, filmmakers Sima Urale and Toa Fraser, and
playwright Victor Rodger.
About Creative New Zealand
Creative New Zealand encourages, promotes and supports the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders
through funding, capability building, its international programme and advocacy. More information is available
About Fulbright New Zealand
Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948 to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges
between New Zealand and the United States of America. The Fulbright programme offers a range of prestigious awards for
New Zealand and American graduate students, academics, artists and professionals to study, research and teach in each
other’s countries. More than 3,000 people have benefited from a Fulbright exchange between New Zealand and the United
States to date. The programme is jointly funded by the US and New Zealand governments with additional funding from award
sponsors, private philanthropists and alumni donors.www.fulbright.org.nz