Regional | Art

Dr Elizabeth Kerekere gifts name to new arts award

Photo / File

Dr Elizabeth Kerekere, artist, queer activist and Green Party MP, has gifted the name Toi Kō Iriiri to a new first of its kind art award that celebrates artists whose practice has a meaningful impact on the queer community.

"The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi o Aotearoa is thrilled to announce a new dedicated Laureate Award to be presented to a queer artist in 2022. The award, named Toi Kō Iriiri, presents an opportunity to recognise and celebrate an outstanding queer artist, supporting them with a $30,000 gift, and sharing their story with New Zealand," Te Tumu Toi o Aotearoa said in a statement.

The Toi Kō Iriiri Queer Arts Award is the first of its kind in Aotearoa.

Dr Kerekere (Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Oneone, Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri) says the name given to the award references “art that transforms – that moves us in or out of discomfort, but always to a new place.”

The award is made possible by the "radical generosity" of philanthropist Hall Cannon, a recently appointed Te Tumu Toi trustee, who says its "time has come" and has committed to backing the award for the next 10 years with a $300,000 gift.

"With this award we have a really exceptional opportunity to be, frankly, a global leader in this space. And I hope, that in the process we can show that while we’re a small country, we can be very mighty with our voice,” Cannon says.

After 12 months of consultation with the queer arts community, a roadmap has been developed which includes crowd-sourcing a unique selection panel from the queer community.

“The timing of this award is significant as we look to celebrate next year’s milestone – 50 years of Pride," says advisory panel member and artist Elyissa Wilson-Heti.

"We’re also reflecting on the insane contribution that queer artists and practitioners have had on the arts. Some of the most innovative, form-pushing, boundary-breaking, glass-ceiling shattering work comes from queer practitioners. They absolutely should get recognised for that contribution.”