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2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureates announced

Story Published Friday 6 August 2021
2021 Arts Laureates

Multi-award-winning artist, and waiata reo māori national treasure, Maisey Rika is among eight outstanding artists announced as the 2021 Arts Foundations Te Tumu Toi Laureates.

The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi is thrilled to reveal their 2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumi Toi Laureate Award recipients. Eight artists have been identified as Aotearoa New Zealand’s most outstanding artists for 2021 – artists whose practise also has an impact in New Zealand. In addition, they reveal a brand new award recognising a significant moment in time for the arts landscape of Aotearoa.

2021 marks the 21st year of the Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate Awards, established to celebrate and empower New Zealand’s most outstanding practising artists across a diverse range of disciplines. Every year the Arts Foundation recognises exceptional artists with a $25,000 untagged award.

This year the eight new artists will join an alumni of 105 Laureates already celebrated and empowered for being outstanding in their field, and for having the potential for an enduring career and lasting impact on Aotearoa New Zealand.

Past Laureates include Shane Cotton, Eleanor Catton, Whirimako Black, Don McGlashan, Taika Waititi, Lisa Reihana Bill Manhire and FAFSWAG – to name a few! All recipients can be viewed on our website.

Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Lead, Jo Blair says, “We couldn’t think of eight artists more suited to representing the great mana of our Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laurate Awards programme – particularly significant as we celebrate our 21st year of the Awards. We are incredibly proud of our legacy of backing the arts, and our Laureate programme truly embodies this.”

Following a rigorous selection process by an independent panel of experts during July 2021, this year eight new Laureates are welcomed.

2021 Arts Foundation Laureate Award Recipients

Maisey Rika – Music

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Jillian Friedlander Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Award

Nina Nawalowalo ONZM – Theatre

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Theresa Gattung Female Arts Practitioners Award

Shane Bosher – Theatre

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Burr/Tatham Trust Award

Brett Graham – Visual Arts

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the My Art Visual Arts Award

Rangi Kipa – Ngā toi Māori

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate

Vasanti Unka – Illustration

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award

Harry Culy – Photography

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award

Florian Habicht – Film

2021 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Dame Gaylene Preston Award for Documentary Filmmaker

Introducing a brand new award: A Moment In Time Award He Momo

When the independent selection panel met in June this year to select eight Arts Foundation Laureates, one name kept coming up. However, the person in question didn’t fit the traditional artist criteria for Laureate selection. It fanned a flame that had been quietly burning within The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi whānau for some time now – the need to recognise influence and impact that belongs to particular time in New Zealand’s arts journey.

The Moment In Time Award He Momo has been established to recognise a change-maker who has had a significant impact on our arts and cultural landscape, in that year (or 12 months before it). This year, the award has been generously gifted by Bruce and Tina Qin.

The honour – which will include a $25,000 gift – will only be awarded in a year when such an individual or collective has had significant impact and moved the needle on New Zealand’s arts landscape – be it fuelling our identity, wellbeing or culture, here or further afield. The recipient doesn’t have to be artist themselves, just someone who’s mahi impacts the arts. The award won’t be gifted regularly; just when the moment truly calls for it.

Our inaugural recipient is Nigel Borell, Māori arts curator, the creative mind behind Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art – the landmark survey exhibition that marks a true moment in time for Aotearoa’s arts landscape.


The 2021 Arts Foundation Laureate recipients were selected by an independent panel of seven multi-disciplinary artists during July 2021. The selection panel included:

  • Marnie Karmelita
  • Martyn Pepperall
  • Stephanie Oberg
  • Philip Clarke
  • Tama Waipara
  • Pasha Clothier
  • Lynn Freeman

The Arts Foundation Laureate Awards are for practicing New Zealand artists, working anywhere in the world, with significant achievements (for their stage of career) and the potential to continue as high achieving artists, who are:

  • Committed to a career in the arts
  • Outstanding artists in their field
  • A great New Zealand artist (or likely to be)
  • Important to their communities and to New Zealand

The Laureates are possible thanks to a generous whānau of funders whose contribution enables six awards – some annually, some every second year.

Dedicated Laureates:

  • Theresa Gattung Award for Female Arts Practitioners
  • My Art Award for Visual Artists
  • Sir Roger Hall Award for Theatre Practitioners (not awarded in 2021)
  • Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Award for outstanding Māori or Pasifika artists.
  • The Marti Friedlander Photographic Award
  • The Burr/ Tatham Trust Award
  • Dame Gaylene Preston Documentary Filmmaker Award
  • Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award

With thanks to The Hawkins Family, Sir Roger Hall, Marti and Gerrard Friedlander, Mallinson Rendel, Theresa Gattung, Adrian Burr and Peter Tatham, Jillian Friedlander, Dame Gaylene Preston, New Zealand International Film Festival, Sir Roy McKenzie, NZ Film Commission and the Vista Foundation.

About the Arts Foundation

Backing artists to make their mark. The Arts Foundation was established in 1998 to honour extraordinary New Zealand artists.