Regional | Art

Mr G to judge Kingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award

The 2021 finalists for the Kīngi Tuheitia Portraiture Award. Photo / Archive

Final entries are being sought for the country’s only portraiture award aiming to encourage the next generation of Māori artists.

The Kingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award encourages emerging Māori artists to create portraits of their tūpuna, and be in the running for a $25,000 prize pool.

Submissions close on March 23 for the competition coordinated by the Office of the Kiingitanga and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata.

First prize receives $20,000, while runners-up and recipients of a 'People’s Choice' award receive $2,500 each.

Open to any artists who’ve created some form of artwork in the past two years, the entrant needs to have a whakapapa connection to the tūpuna depicted.

Any visual medium can be used, not just canvas.

Renowned artist Graham Hoete (Mr G) joins a distinguished panel of judges. He says the award is a way to allow people to tell their indigenous stories, and remove some of the intimidation surrounding the art scene.

Avenue for young artists

“Māori can feel a bit intimidated in the arts space, so this is another way of providing an avenue for young artists to feel comfortable and tell their story the way they want to tell it. What makes us indigenous, especially as artists, is the fact that we are connected to the stories that we are telling - for me that is the key,” Hoete says.

Hoete is joined by Māori researcher, artist, arts educator and curator Steve Gibbs, and artist Lisa Reihana, who is known around the world for her portraits and digital art; he says he’s living proof artists come from all walks of life.

“I come from a non-traditional trained background being self-taught and as a full-time artist for 19 years I have had to carve out my own path as an artist. In saying that, I have achieved some things you can’t really achieve any other way by taking risks and pure passion.

“I will be looking at the integrity and purity of art and people’s ability to share and tell their stories the way they want to tell them,” Hoete says.

Details on how to enter is available here, Winners will be announced at the exhibition opening on Wednesday, May, 24.