Te Waka Toi presents Maori arts award to Dame Kiri

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New Zealands internationally acclaimed opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was honoured in Wellington last night with the exemplary award from Te Waka Toi, the Maori Arts Board of Creative New Zealand.

Dame Kiri received the prestigious Te Tohu Aroha mo Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu in recognition of her artistic leadership and lifetime of exceptional musical achievement.

Throughout her glittering career as an operatic and classical soprano on the national and international stage Dame Kiri has been an inspiration to other artists. She is now committed to passing on her knowledge, experience and skills to young singers from Aotearoa.

Darrin Haimona, chair of Te Waka Toi, said This prestigious award honours the late Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and it is fitting that the inaugural presentation made tonight by her son Te Arikinui Kingi Tuheitia is to another Maori Dame with exceptional mana.

The Te Waka Toi awards provide the perfect opportunity to celebrate the lives and successes of Maori arts practitioners. They also serve as a springboard for emerging artists through scholarships.

The awards recognise the mana of people who have dedicated their lives to the retention and future development of Maori arts and culture, Darrin said.

The 2010 Te Waka Toi awards commemorated: the international success of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Porou) with Te Tohu Aroha mo Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu;

the creative innovation of Tairoa Royal (Te Arawa, Ngati Raukawa, Kai Tahu) with Te Tohu Toi Ke;

the promotion of Te Reo Maori by Te Onehou Phillis (Ngati Awa) with Te Tohu Aroha mo Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi: Whakarongo, Titiro, Korero;

the huge commitment of five kaumatua, who through their generosity and talent, enrich the artistic traditions of communities, with Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka:

o Jossie Kaa (Ruawaipu, Ngati Porou),

o Kihi Ngatai (Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui)

o Tata Maere (Ngati Naho, Ngati Mahuta o Tainui, Waikato, Ngati Poporo, Kahungunu)

o Vera Morgan (Te Mahurehure)

o Wiremu Kaa (Ruawaipu, Ngati Porou). Darrin Haimona went on to praise the recipients, All are truly amazing individuals who delight and inspire others with their enthusiasm and have collectively made Maori arts stronger and better, he said.

Te Tohu Aroha mo Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu: Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award

Accepting her exemplary Te Waka Toi award from England, Dame Kiri said: Both my parents made great sacrifices to enable me to have the life and career I have enjoyed. My mother told me 60 years ago that it was the Maori part of me which would be important. My father Thomas Te Kanawa would have been very proud indeed of my Te Waka Toi award some 60 years later.

Developing and supporting young New Zealand singers through the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation is her main focus these days. She is particularly passionate about mentoring talented young M?ori singers and guiding them on to the international stage.

Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka: Sir Kingi Ihaka Awards

Te Waka Toi honoured five esteemed kaumatua with Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka for their lifetime achievements in strengthening the continuity of Maori culture through their support and practice of nga toi Maori.

Kihi Ngatai QSM of Tauranga who serves as a member of the Waitangi Tribunal and has a gift for oratory; Tata Maere of Hawkes Bay, a pillar of her society and a musician and kapa haka performer; Vera Morgan QSM of Wellington, a community icon and kapa haka performer; and husband and wife teachers and Te Reo Maori educational authors Wiremu and Jossie Kaa of East Cape.

Te Tohu Aroha mo Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi: Whakarongo, Titiro, Korero: Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi Award

Te Ohehou Phillis from Eastern Bay of Plenty received Te Tohu Aroha mo Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi: Whakarongo, Titiro, Korero in recognition of her leadership and outstanding contribution to the promotion of Te Reo Rangatira. Te Onehou is an educator and historian who has published numerous books in Te Reo Maori, including the seminal biography of her father Eruera Manuera.

Te Tohu Toi Ke: Te Waka Toi Award for Making a Difference Born and bred in the Bay of Plenty, Taiaroa Royal was awarded Te Tohu Toi Ke for making a difference to Maori arts and culture with his illustrious career. Taiaroa is an artistic director and one of New Zealands leading modern dancers and choreographers.

Nga Karahipi a Te Waka Toi: Te Waka Toi Scholarships Two emerging Maori artists were awarded scholarships to assist with further study. Talented young arts curator and visual artist Reuben Friend from Waikato, who is studying for a Masters Degree in Maori Visual Arts; and gifted Ta moko practitioner Taryn Beri from Wellington who is currently studying the artform with her mentor in Tolaga Bay.

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