Theater and film actor Rangimoana Taylor has won the top prize at the 2023 Ngā Taonga Toi a Te Waka Toi Awards.
With more than 35 years in the arts, Taylor's career has spanned across local and international stage and screen.
Beyond acting, he has shared his knowledge as a teacher at Toi Whakaari, New Zealand Drama School and a Takitimu Performing Arts School lecturer. He said he has always had a passion for helping young Māori artists.
"It wasn't just about acting. It was about helping young Māori find themselves, find what they want to do, and theater can help them get there," he said.
Taylor picks up the Supreme Award, dedicated to the late Māori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and a prize of $25,000.
Thirteen Māori artists were recognised across eight different categories at the awards ceremony in Hamilton tonight.
Among them were kaitiaki pounamu Horiana Tootell, Aotearoa's most published expert on poi Ngamoni Huata, and street artist Mr G.
Several of those recognised have played important roles in reviving skills that may otherwise have been lost, one of them is karanga specialist Te Raina Ferris, who is one of two recipients of the Sir Kingi Ihaka Awards for Lifetime Achievement.
She said she's feeling 'very humbled' to have been nominated for the award.
Ferris has been teaching karanga for more than 25 years and started her own school Kurawaka in 2000 based at her tūrangawaewae in Pōrangahau.
When she started her whare wānanga a lot of marae had no kaikaranga as many of the older kuia had passed away, but since then the art has seen a revival.
"Wherever there is a marae we need the kaikaranga and the kaikōrero, so it's in a good state but it needs a lot of work and it'll probably take another generation to rebuild it," she said.
Ferris said it's been wonderful to be active in the renaissance of Māori culture.
"It's been a lot of fun, a lot of crying, a lot of tears but a lot of empowered women have left these programs and gone home and built the capacity on their marae and made changes in their lives that they didn't have the kaha or the courage to step out of or into."
Now at the age of 71 she's stepping back from her role as tutor with her daughters and past students stepping up to take the lead. She said her plan now is to write some books on karanga.
Ferris says being born in Pōrangahau was a blessing, near her marae where she unconsciously learned about a Māori worldview steeped in the power of wāhine.
"Our culture is so vibrant at the moment and is so alive and well and flourishing throughout the land. So it's a joy to be Māori."
Sarah Holten's life and art celebrated.
Sarah Holten received the Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa award for her remarkable mixed-media artistry.
Holten, an artist of Ngāti Maniapoto and Tūwharetoa descent, passed away shortly before she was to receive Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa and was celebrated posthumously at Te Waka Toi Awards.
Lisa Holten, her mother, accepted the award on her behalf.
"Sarah's journey from a simple pastime to becoming the artist she was always meant to be has been nothing short of inspiring," she said.
Ngā Taonga Toi a Te Waka Toi Award Winners 2023
- Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Supreme Award: Rangimoana Taylor - (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui)
- Sir Kingi Ihaka Awards for Lifetime Achievement: Te Raina Ferris - (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, Italy); Horiana Tootell - (Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tahu)
- Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi - Making a Difference Award: Amber Curreen - (Ngāpuhi); Estella Hineratia Tawha-Davis - (Ngaati Maahanga, Waikato-Tainui, Ngaati Raukawa, Ngaati Maiotaki, Ngaati Toarangatira); Graham Tipene - (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Manu)
- Te Tohu Iho Pūmanawa - recognising the contribution of a Māori artist with the lived experience of disability: Sarah Holten - (Ngāti Maniapoto, Tūwharetoa) posthumously awarded.
- Ngā Manu Pīrere Award - Recognising emerging Māori artists: Brianne Te Paa - (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Te Whānau-a-Apanui); Bridy Lundon - (Ngāpuhi, Waikato-Tainui); Tuakoi Ohia - (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Hine, Te Ati Awa, Tainui, Te Arawa, Ngāti Pākehā)
- Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa - Recognises the recipient's outstanding contribution to Ngā Toi Māori: Putiputi Mackey - (Ngāti Porou ki Pōneke) posthumously awarded.
- Te Tohu aroha mō Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi - Recognises the recipient's outstanding work strengthening te Reo Rangatira: Mr G - (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Awa)
- Te Tohu a Te Matatini - contribution to kapa haka: Ngamoni Huata - (Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wahiao, Ngāti Whare, Ngāi Tuhoe, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Raukawa)