Tohunga artists and community leaders have been honoured at the 2015 Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi Awards. The annual awards, running since 1986, celebrate Māori arts and artists with prizes for both established and emerging practitioners. The ceremony took place in Rotorua on 28 November.
Weaver Matekino Lawless was the recipient of 2015’s Supreme Award, which acknowledges her long and distinguished career in Māori weaving. Lawless has previously received a Queens Service Medal in 1999 and a Creative New Zealand Kingi Ihaka Te Waka Toi Award in 2008.
There was also a special award for Rahera Wiremu Shortland and her work that promotes Māori language. She has worked in the field for 40 years, and began the first Māori Language immersion programme at secondary level. Other artists acknowledged for their positive service to Māori culture include Lisa Reihana, Te Whetu Takitahi Te Ariki Derek Morehu, Pareaute Nathan, Huhana Morgan and Maata Wharehoka.
Two fresh faces on the Māori arts scene were also recognised for their work with Ngā Manu Pīrere prizes. Mapihi Maureen Te Rerehau Kelland has toured internationally as a contemporary Māori dancer, and is currently on tour with acclaimed group Black Grace as part of its show Siva. Hana-lee Kereru-Wainohu, meanwhile, has worked ceasleslly to promote waka hourua – traditional Māori canoes – travelling over 40,000 nautical miles around the Pacific.