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Whakamana Hiranga Icon Awards 2022

Issue date: 
Wednesday, 14 December 2022
The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO

Kei aaku nui
kei aaku rahi
ngaa Maareikura,
ngaa Whatukura.

Nau mai,
piki mai,
kake mai,
i runga i te kaupapa o te ra.

Tēnā koutou, 
tēnā koutou, 
tēnā koutou katoa.

It’s a real privilege to host so many veritable icons of our cultural sector tonight.

Your presence demonstrates the depth of esteem in which we hold this year’s Whakamana Hiranga Icons: Dame Robin White, Papali'i Fatu Feu'u and Dame Jane Campion.

A special welcome back to Government House to Dame Patsy Reddy – my predecessor in this role – and a great supporter and friend of the arts.

And on a sad note, I must also acknowledge the passing of Sir Eion Edgar, who will be remembered as an early and generous advocate  of these awards.

The word ‘icon’ is not used lightly; in this instance, it aptly describes the pre-eminence of our three award-winners.

Dame Robin, Fatu and Dame Jane contributed to and represent significant shifts in the way we see the world.

They have challenged New Zealand cultural norms and expanded our vocabulary for the expression of diverse and complex identities.

An icon has a mysterious ability to channel profound insights into the human condition – and to provoke a sense of wonder and recognition in the viewer.

All of us here tonight can attest to experiencing those moments in their work – which come, not just via prodigious talent, but also as a result of immense dedication and sacrifice.

All three have inspired and encouraged others to explore their talents, and their influence will be felt for generations to come.

The many international accolades received by Dame Jane indicate her status as a film-maker with a very particular and personal sensibility. Her films are memorable for their deep sense of poetry, atmosphere, and unspoken, fragile emotion.

Dame Jane’s presence at the top of her craft has undoubtedly assisted other women in their efforts to enter the world of film-making.

We are delighted she has chosen to make Aotearoa her home again.

I feel very fortunate to have a work created by Fatu. Fatu has delighted in drawing on ancient artistic traditions of the Pacific and taking them forward. He has inspired generations of artists to share his pride in those traditions.

His work reminds us that the Pacific Ocean does not separate the peoples who live there – but instead represents points of connection between us.

Dame Robin’s work similarly reinforces those Pacific connections, and her collaborations with Tongan and Fijian artists have enabled traditional Pacific media to be used in powerful new ways.

Her magnificent retrospective exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery showed a dazzling mastery of media over the course of her impressive career.

Dame Jane has unfortunately been unable to join us tonight, so I look forward to another opportunity to congratulate her personally.

To Fatu and Dame Robin, on behalf of my fellow New Zealanders, I thank you for provoking us to consider new and better ways of relating to each other and the natural world.

Please see these Awards as due recognition of your outstanding contributions to our cultural wellbeing, and sincere thanks for the taonga you have gifted to posterity.

I wish you every success with the many projects that are sure to come.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 15 December 2022

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