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Lowdown: Creative Awards & Events Come To Life

11 Jul 2024

Hundreds of creatives get the good news about awards nominations, Auckland's big arts event gets underway and the race is on for cash on offer to make the next great creative podcast.

Does anything bring the colour and curiosity more than the World of WearableArt (WOW) Show?

The finalists for 2024 have been announced on Thursday (11 July), with 91 entries selected to be put on show for this year's show - DREAM AWAKE.

Those who made the cut come from quite the diverse geographical and material range - 35 countries are represented from Tauranga to Turkey, Hastings to Hong Kong, Collingwood to Canada, and Moutere to Mexico, with garments crafted from car parts, human hair, digital waste, antique silk, roadwork safety equipment, old mattresses, lamp shades, gutter guard, and "some surprising takes" on New Zealand wool.

WOW Head of Competition Sarah Nathan notes of this year's finalists "In recent years, many of the design narratives have been noticeably serious, reflecting the issues and mood of the time. This year, whilst there are still garments that talk to critical topics such as human acceptance, mental health, and environmental impacts, there is a very strong vision for joy, love, escapism and even frivolity, indicating that might be just what we all need right now.”

While there is the usual mix of experienced finalists with staunch art backgrounds and first-time finalists from everyday jobs finding an incredible outlet for their creative inclinations - just what they've made stays strictly under wraps for now.

The judging panel - that includes WOW Founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff, fashion director James Dobson (AKA Jimmy D) and Wētā Workshop Creative Art Director Gino Acevedo - will have two more rounds of judging before the winners are announced on 27 September at TSB Arena in Wellington.

With over $185,000 in awards and prizes, the competition includes three recurring sections – Aotearoa, Avant-garde, and Open – and three unique categories: Crazy Curiosities of the Creature Carnival, Natural World, and Geometric Abstraction.

Let the games begin

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World Choir Games 2024 Opening Ceremony. Photo: Jonas Persson (INTERKULTUR).

After months of intricate planning, the World Choir Games are finally underway.

They kicked off with a lavish opening ceremony in Tāmaki Makaurau on Wednesday night (10 July) and has set the tone for the next 10 days of what is billed the Olympics of Choral singing.

Spark Arena came to life with the ‘Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand’ show, masterminded by creative director and in-demand artistic thinker Malia Johnston (Who is also in charge of the aforementioned WOW show in September). Spectacular was promised and by all reports of those who attended - it delivered.

There will be a flurry of activity all over Auckland over the next week and a half, with everything from competitions, to parade of nations, friendship concerts and workshops.

With 11,000 participants, the sheer scale of this event hasn't been seen by the creative community in some time.

Shepherds delight

The Pacific Music Awards are moving from strength to strength - registering the highest number of entries in its 20 year history.


The 27 finalists across 13 categories have been named this week - with five-piece Polynesian metal group, Shepherds Reign getting the nod for most nominations with six. They're up for Best Pacific Group, Best Pacific Language, Best Pacific Music Album, Best Pacific Music Video, Best Pacific Song and guitarist Oliver Leupolu as Best Producer.

Followed closely behind, singer/songwriter Aaradhna looks to add to her collection of awards with five nominations - Best Pacific Female Artist, Best Pacific Soul/RnB Artist, Best Pacific Song, Best Pacific Music Video and Best Producer.

Hip hop artist Diggy Dupé is next with four - in the running for Best Pacific Male Artist, Best Pacific Hip Hop Artist, Best Pacific Music Video and Best Pacific Song.

Throw  12 first-time finalists into the mix - and voting for People's Choice now open -  and there's plenty for the Pacific community to get excited about ahead of the event on 29 August at Due Drop Events Centre in Manukau.

Get your Pod on

Hands up who's got an idea for a podcast? What's that, pretty much everyone?

Opening 22 July, A new one-off fund for arts and culture podcasts has been announced - supported by Creative New Zealand (CNZ), NZ On Air and RNZ - to confront the glaring lack of media coverage on arts and culture in Aotearoa.

CNZ's Advocacy manager Tracey Monastra explains “We want to see a stronger and more visible arts sector, where artists’ voices are reflected across our media landscape. The New Mirrors research (undertaken by Rosabel Tan and James Wenley) highlighted the deficit in coverage across the sector broadly and the need for better arts and culture coverage in the regions, for ngā toi Māori, Pasifika arts and a need to strengthen our reviewing culture."

The fund will support the development of up to four podcasts, exploring New Zealand arts and culture from new and inventive perspectives, particularly audiences and artforms that are not well served by the current arts media.

“As an agency that funds diverse, high-quality content for Aotearoa audiences, we lament the scarcity of arts-focused stories,” says NZ On Air Acting Co-Head of Funding, Kelly Davis.

“Working in partnership with other agencies who also want to see more coverage of the arts in our media, is one way we can support and stimulate this so more of our distinct and unique arts and culture stories can be told.”

RNZ’s Māori Commissioner, Jana Te Nahu Owen, will work as a strategic advisor alongside Rosabel Tan to support podcast makers, says she hopes for a wide range of applications from artists and content creators that reflect our diverse arts and culture sector in Aotearoa.

“This fund gives producers and artists creative license to come up with fresh and innovative approaches to the podcast medium. By working collaboratively on this mahi, we will strengthen our ability to tautoko the arts community and open up more pathways for ngā toi Māori, Pasifika artists and all creatives from across the motu. We want all your whakaaro and hope to see applications that cover a raft of issues and topics from different perspectives.” 

It's sure to be a popular conversation piece among many creatives in the coming weeks - and welcome support to getting more of a foothold in the media.

Rising star

 Emele Ugavule. Photo: Supplied.

Tokelauan Fijian storyteller Emele Ugavule has become the first creative of Melanesian descent to be named the 2024 Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML). 

The three-month residency comes with support from a mentor and a stipend of $15,000 from CNZ to work on a play for 3 months. 

Born in Takapuna and raised on Bindjareb Boodja in Australia, Ugavule is the founder of the Indigenous-led arts collective Studio Kiin and is a senior tutor in Craft and Creative Practice at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.  

The published poet will develop her play Ancestor Incarnate, which she describes as “an intercultural Melafuturist work that unpacks the relationship between native cases against the British Crown, food sovereignty, and climate change in Oceania.”  

Ugavule enthuses “I am deeply humbled and honoured to join the incredible legacy of Pasifika writers who have undertaken this residency before me.

"Having dedicated time and resources to commit to building the world of my play has immeasurable value to me as mum and custodian of story. This iTaukei proverb, 'Dui mate ga e na nona ucu ni vatu' meaning 'each person is ready to die defending their home territory' encapsulates why I do what I do. "

Judge revealed 

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Photo: Courtesy of Professor Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.

The Walters Prize 2024 exhibition has opened - and the international judge for New Zealand’s leading contemporary art award has been named.

The honour goes to Professor Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, highly regarded curator and author, who is currently the director and chief curator of Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin aND the chief curator for the 2025 Bienal de São Paulo.

Ndikung has a list of accolades that are undeniable, and will turn his attention to judging the work of this year’s finalists – Juliet Carpenter, Owen Connors, Brett Graham and Ana Iti – before announcing the winner in October. 

Event accolades

A number of creative and community events have been recognised as finalists for the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA) Awards to be dished out in Palmerston North on 27 August.

Among the 69 finalists across 17 categories is the Best Arts Cultural or Heritage Event - contested between Auckland Arts Festival, Anthony Harper Summer Theatre (Christchurch City Council), last year's Ōpōtiki Matariki Festival (Ōpōtiki District Council), this year's Waitangi Day in Porirua City and the always popular Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

The Ōpōtiki Matariki Festival is also nominated for Best Community or Not-for-profit Event for under 3000 participants, while Warbird, Takapuna Winter Lights (Takapuna Beach Business Association) and Trust Horizon Light Up Whakatāne (Whakatāne District Council) are in contention for the large scale event.

Porirua City's Waitangi event is also double nominated for Best Local Government Event, along with TSB Festival of Lights Winter Pop Up (New Plymouth District Council).

It's a two horse race for the Best Music Event with Electric Avenue (Team Event) up against Mana Moana (Live Nation).