National | Arts

Leaders in Māori arts honoured

Renowned kapa haka exponent Wetini Mitai-Ngatai, prominent Māori artist Frederick Graham and multi-disciplinary artist Lisa Reihana are among the many Māori have been named in the 2018 Queen's New Year Honours list.

Mr Frederick Graham: To be an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

Mr Frederick Graham has been involved in New Zealand art since the 1950s and has contributed to the growth, development and promotion of Māori art throughout New Zealand and abroad.

From 1951 to 1954 Mr Graham served as an art adviser to Māori primary schools throughout Rotorua and Northland. He has been the Head of the Art Department at various schools throughout the North Island and he has played a key role in inspiring and developing the next generation of artistic talent.

Graham was a pioneer of the Contemporary Māori Art Movement and in 1966 he was a key figure in organising one of the first exhibitions of contemporary Māori painting and sculptures in Hamilton. He has represented New Zealand at many international exhibitions throughout his career, including the 1986 ‘Te Ao Marama’ (‘Seven Māori Artists’) exhibition that toured Australia and a 1992 tour of the United States that showcased contemporary Māori art.

Since 1996 he has served on the Haerewa (Māori Cultural Advisory Group) at the Auckland Art Gallery. He continues to provide mentoring to young sculptors and artists. Mr Graham’s contributions have resulted in a number of sculptures that are displayed in many New Zealand cities and towns, as well as galleries in Seattle, Vancouver and South Korea.

Wetini Mitai-Ngatai: To Be an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Renowned kapa haka exponent Wetini Mitai-Ngatai will become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his dedication to revolutionising Māori performing arts.

In 1994 Mitai-Ngatai established the esteemed Te Arawa  rōpū Te Mātārae i Ōrehu who has consistently placed within the top six at the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festivals since 1996 and has achieved first place twice.

He became the first ever six-time recipient of the Manukura Tāne male leader award.

Mitai-Ngatai founded Mitai Māori Village in Rotorua in 2002 to provide a unique Māori cultural tourism experience. The Village now employs more than 100 people and provides vulnerable youth with experiences and opportunities.

He also founded and has been a master tutor and choreographer for Tu Taua Māori Martial Arts School.

Mr Mitai-Ngatai has choreographed a range of performances at national and international levels for such events as the WOMAD World Music Tour, the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the 1999 World Fashion Show in Taiwan, World Expo Japan, international indigenous conferences, and Pacific Arts festivals.

In 2015 he was the recipient of the prestigious Westpac Laureate Award.

Lisa Reihana: To be a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Lisa Reihana is a multi-disciplinary artist whose large scale video installation ‘In Pursuit of Venus [infected]’ has represented New Zealand at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

‘In Pursuit of Venus [infected]’ was first exhibited at Auckland Art Gallery in 2015 and was the most visited solo exhibition by a New Zealand artist at the gallery since 1997, with 49,000 visitors.

Ms Reihana has an extensive exhibition history in New Zealand and internationally. More recently her work was included in the inaugural 2017 Honolulu Biennial. Her works are held in private and public collections including Te Papa Tongarewa; Auckland Art Gallery; Australia National Gallery; Staatliche Museum, Berlin; Susan O'Connor Foundation, Texas and Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Earlier in her career she was featured in the publication and documentary ‘Pleasures and Dangers: Artists of the ‘90s’, which highlighted eight emerging younger artists.

She completed a major commission for Te Papa Tongarewa in 2008, installing the work ‘Mai I te aroha, ko te aroha’ at one of the entrances to the museum’s marae. In 2014 Ms Reihana was awarded an Arts Laureate Award by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.