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Pioneer Of Pacific Art Awarded 2010 Contemporary Pacific Artist Award

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Fuseworks Media
Pioneer Of Pacific Art Awarded 2010 Contemporary Pacific Artist Award

A pioneer of contemporary Pacific art is among the five recipients being honoured in Wellington tonight at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards 2010.

Renowned for his innovative and varied work, Michel Tuffery M.N.Z.M is the 2010 recipient of the Contemporary Pacific Artist's Award. The award recognises the artist's exemplary career and contribution he has made in bringing a New Zealand-born Pacific experience to the centre of contemporary New Zealand art.

Tuffery joins a stellar line up of recipients including the first Samoan weaver to join the New Zealand Weavers Committee, a young Tokelauan dance group which was formed to teach the next generation about their traditional performing arts, a rising young Samoan opera star who also helps young South Auckland hip-hop/RnB artists and a former Tongan naval electrician turned innovative carver.

The awards presented were the Emerging Pacific Artist's Award ($4000) to contemporary Tongan carver Visesio Siasau; the Iosefa Enari Memorial Award ($4000) to Samoan tenor Pene Pati; the Pacific Heritage Arts Award ($5000) to the O Mata! Tokelau Dance Group; the Contemporary Pacific Artist's Award ($5000) to artist Michel Tuffery; and the Senior Pacific Artist's Award ($10,000) to Samoan weaver Misa Emma Kesha.

Pele Walker, Chair of the Pacific Arts Committee, says the awards are a time to reflect on the collective cultural wealth of Pacific artists living in New Zealand.

"From those artists working to preserve the traditions of our homelands such as Misa Emma Kesha, to those like Michel Tuffery who are forging new paths with new technologies, these awards celebrate the contribution Pacific artists are making to express their unique experiences in New Zealand."

Offered annually since 1996 the Arts Pasifika Awards are an opportunity for Creative New Zealand to encourage and celebrate excellence in Pacific arts in New Zealand. They are the only national awards that recognise Pasifika artists across a range of artforms - from contemporary to heritage and across a range of stages in the artists' careers from emerging to established.

Recipient Biographies Emerging Pacific Artist's AwardVisesio Siasau (Hamilton)

Visesio Siasau is a contemporary Tongan carver who is both innovative and inspiring. Born into a family of carvers, painters and tapa makers, he discovered his talent for the craft of carving whilst living with his uncle, an Otara-based carver, when he moved to New Zealand 14 years ago.

Visesio has spent the past seven years focusing on establishing himself as an artist and generating an income for his family. His works reflect Tongan culture in a contemporary context and also explore and express his traditional upbringing in Tonga. An artist who likes to push boundaries and challenge himself to acquire new skills and technologies, Visesio has worked with a variety of materials including greenstone, whale bone, native woods, stone, granite, perspex and glass, and has recently been casting works into bronze, silver and stainless steel.

Visesio's art has a unique voice, unafraid to talk about contemporary issues relating to his culture which may otherwise be tapu (taboo). His creative works recount social, cultural, political and religious issues, and the social systems by which Tongans live, not only in Tonga but also in Aotearoa. Visesio is bringing about greater recognition of Tongan culture with his creative storytelling of people, place and space through his personal artistic expression.

Iosefa Enari Memorial AwardPene Junior Pati (South Auckland)

Pene Pati is a 22 year-old Samoan-born tenor. He is currently undertaking his final year of studies for a Bachelor of Music honours degree at the University of Auckland. He has been described as having 'a voice from the Gods' by the Australian conductor and pianist, Maestro Richard Bonynge (husband of the late Dame Joan Sutherland).

Pene has already received many awards and scholarships for his vocal talent. In 2009 he won the prestigious New Zealand Aria award and received the John Bond Trophy for 'Most Promising Voice'. In July 2010, Pene was one of eight finalists in the McDonald's Operatic Aria competition in Sydney. In October this year he won the Performing Arts Competition Association of New Zealand's 'Young Performer of the Year' vocal award.

Pene's career highlights include singing the tenor solo in Rossini's 'Stabat Mater' with the Hamilton Civic choir in April 2010. He regularly performs with the Opera Factory and sang the title role in their June 2009 London production of Offenbach's 'Orpheus in the Underworld'. He has performed in London masterclasses with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major and Sir Andrew Davis.

Pene also enjoys helping young South Auckland hip-hop and R&B artists with their recording projects as a sound engineer, arranger or producer.

Pacific Heritage Arts AwardO Mata! Tokelau Dance Group (Hutt Valley)

O Mata! Tokelau Dance Group consists of young, dynamic New Zealand-born Tokelauans from the Hutt Valley and Wellington region. O Mata! was established in early 2005 with the aspiration of keeping Tokelauan culture alive by combining the skills of their members in performing arts and music with traditional Tokelau hiva (dance).

O Mata! draw on songs and dances passed down through their grandparents to develop both new and traditional performances for the next generation of Tokelauans and wider audiences. O Mata! utilise traditional Tokelau dance and infuse this with contemporary styles through a variety of dance formations and tempos in their performances. The group develop new material with the support and encouragement of Tokelauan elders (Toeaina ma na Lomatutua) whom they consult to ensure the authenticity of their content and delivery.

O Mata! are constantly looking for innovative and creative ways to attain their goal of cultivating Tokelau dance and language and promoting Tokelauan culture to the world. Since their inception the group have performed at a wide range of cultural and community events and private functions.

O Mata! continue to be in high demand for performances in the greater Wellington region and their membership is growing. The group aims to tour nationally and internationally in the future and ultimately make the voyage back to Tokelau, by 2013. Contemporary Pacific Artist's AwardMichel Tuffery M.N.Z.M (Wellington)

Michel Tuffery is a New Zealand-based artist of Samoan, Rarotongan and Tahitian heritage. An acclaimed printmaker, painter and sculptor he is constantly exploring, collaborating and innovating. In 2008, Michel was honoured with the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the arts.

Michel is one of the seminal figures contributing high-quality contemporary Pacific art on the international stage. His creative output is expansive and he is adept at all traditional media. Michel works collaboratively with technicians and other practitioners to realise his performance art and installation projects, which incorporate moving image, light and sound.

Integrally aligned to Michel's art practice is his role as an educator. Since 1987 he has shared his art knowledge and processes with Pacific communities and other artists throughout New Zealand, Polynesia and Melanesia.

Michel has achieved significant awards and national and international residencies, and his art is housed in numerous public and private collections around the world. His work is at the forefront of key international exhibitions showcasing Pacific art on the global platform.

Senior Pacific Artist's AwardMisa Emma Kesha (Dunedin)

Misa Emma Kesha, originally from Samoa, is a passionate artist who actively seeks to share her weaving skills and knowledge with others. She feels that "weaving is an art, talent and gift that I've been given." She has been weaving since the age of nine when this skill was an integral part of everyday life in her village. Emma has since taught weaving to a wide range of cultures, and has exhibited her work throughout New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, New Caledonia and Australia.

In 1983 Emma founded the Multicultural Weavers Association in Dunedin. Two years later, she was invited to be the first Samoan weaver of the New Zealand Weavers Committee Te Moananui a Kiwa Weavers. In 1998, she was given a chieftain title 'Misa' in recognition of her service to her family and community in Samoa - the first time a woman had been made a chief in her family.

Her aim as an artist is to "promote and preserve the art of weaving by sharing my knowledge with the younger generation of my culture, therefore I will be able to preserve this art of weaving which otherwise could be lost in our modern society." Arts Pasifika Awards recipients from 2002-20010: Emerging Pacific Artist - Peter Panoa (2002), Shigeyuki Kihara (2003), Lonnie Hutchinson (2004), Miria George (2005), Tusiata Avia (2006), WakaUra Dance Group (2007), Linda Tuafale Tanoa'I (2008), Poulima Salima (2009), Visesio Siasau (2010)

Iosefa Enari Memorial Award - Ben Makisi (2002), Daphne Collins (2003), Bonadventure Allan - Moetaua (2004), Ramonda Taleni (2005), Aivale Cole (2006), Sani Muamaseali'i (2007), James Ioelu (2008), Elisha Na'otala Fa'I (2009), Pene Junior Pati (2010)

Pacific Heritage Art Award (added in 2004) - Kepueli Vaomotou (2004), Mafi Malaga III (2005), Tau Fuata Niue (2006), Dr. Okusi Mahina (2007), Enuamanu Maruarua Atiu Society (2008), Falepipi he Mafola - Niuean Women Weavers Group (2009), O Mata! Tokelau Dance Group (2010)

Contemporary Pacific Art Award - Richard Shortland-Cooper (2002) Filipe Tohi (2003), Lemi Ponifasio (MAU Dance) (2004), John Ioane (2005), Sima Urale (2006), Nina Nawalowalo (2007), Diana Fuemana (2008), Shigeyuki Kihara (2009), Michel Tuffery M.N.Z.M (2010)

Senior Pacific Artist Award - Johnny Penisula (2002), Albert Wendt (2003), Nathaniel Lees (2004), Opetia Foa'ai (Te Vaka) (2005), Jim Vivieaere (2006), Justine Simei-Barton (2007), Igelese Ete (2008) Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi (2009), Misa Emma Kesha (2010)

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