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Rob & Robin Dominate 2022 Art Accolades

16 deserving Māori creatives have been honoured in this year's Te Waka Toi Awards - and two of the leading lights should be well used to acceptance speeches after memorable few months.


Everywhere they turn, Dame Robin White and Rob Ruha are being showered with accolades this year.


Their talents have put them on very different career trajectories, but they have converged to be two of the headline recipients at this year’s Te Waka Toi Awards - Creative New Zealand’s annual celebration of the artistic excellence and contribution of Māori artists working in customary and contemporary Māori arts.


16 Māori creatives have been honoured in Saturday’s online ceremony for their contribution - in many different areas and stages of their artistic careers.


The top prize went to Dame Robin (Ngāti Awa), her achievements during half a century entrenched in the visual arts earning her the Te Tohu Aroha mo Te Arikinui Te Ataairangi Kaahu.


The celebration of an outstanding lifelong contribution to the arts sees Dame Robin join creative luminaries like Rawiri Paratene, Patricia Grace and Robyn Kahukiwa in the Supreme Award’s alumni.


Dame Robin joined another exclusive club just last month, one of the three new additions to the Arts Foundation’s Icons cohort.


She’s been extremely busy this year, with her touring career retrospective exhibition Te Whanaketanga: Something is Happening Here having already been a hit at Te Papa and currently on show until January 2023 at Auckland Art Gallery. 


Dame Robin described the award as “a huge privilege” and paid tribute to those who have helped her along the way in her career success - “I am very conscious of the fact that it brings with it a heightened awareness of responsibility.”


She adds “I hope that in accepting this and in carrying on working as an artist, I can continue to try my best to do justice to the meaning of this taonga.”


Ruha’s 2022 is littered with triumphs across the music industry - with his efforts to bring te reo Māori into the mainstream recognised in the shape of multiple awards.


His hit 35 with rangatahi-driven ensemble Ka Hao has landed him the prestigious Silver Scroll (an event that he was also Music Director of, with his wife Cilla).The song also claimed the Mana Reo Tūī at this year’s Aotearoa Music Awards, where Ruha additionally won Best Soul/RnB Artist for his album Preservation of Scenery.


Ruha (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangiteaorere, Tūhourangi) was also the supreme award winner at the sixth annual Matariki Awards, Ngā Tohu o Matariki o te Tau, as well as the Tipuārangi (arts and entertainment) award in recognition of his contributions to waiata reo Māori and work with rangatahi.


You can add his Te Waka Toi acknowledgement to that list, with Te Tohu aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi  recognising outstanding work to strengthen Te Reo Rangatira.



Among the others honoured, the late Muriwai Ihakara (Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa) is being remembered with Ngā Tohu a Tā Kingi Ihaka | Sir Kingi Ihaka Award, recognising lifetime contribution. Senior weaver/artist Christina (Tina) Hurihia Wirihana (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whawhakia, Tainui, Te Arawa, Ngāti Rangiunora) also shared the same award.


At the other end of the experience spectrum, three emerging Māori artists were recognised with the Ngā Manu Pīrere Award. Actress and director Ngamako Rota (Waikato, Ngaati Mahuta) and visual artists Ming Ranginui (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) and p. Walters (Ngāti Kuri) all announcing themselves as ones to watch.



Also recognised at the 2022 Te Waka Toi Awards:


Multidiscipline creative Anaru Ruka (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) has been awarded Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa for a Māori artist with the lived experience of disability;


The Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi – Making a Difference Award was shared between weaver and mentor Veranoa Hetet (Te Atiawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Ngāti Maniapoto), sculptor Ross Hemera (Ngai Tahu) and glass/mosaic specialist Gabrielle Belz (Ngāpuhi & Te Atiawa);


Outstanding contribution to Ngā Toi Māori has earned Hoturoa Barcley-Kerr (Tainui), Jack Thatcher (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti) and Stanley Conrad (Te Aupouri) Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa awards;


Life member Te Aroha Paenga (Ngāti Porou) has been highlighted with Te Tohu a Te Matatini – Contribution to Te Matatini, along with Te Taepa Kameta (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Te Rangiunuora, Taranaki, Te Whakatōhea).