Arts Foundation of New Zealand

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Arts Foundation of New Zealand
Legal statusCharity
PurposeFund-raising and providing grants for arts, culture and heritage
  • Christchurch
Region served
New Zealand
NZD 1.12m (2010)

'The Arts Foundation of New Zealand Te Tumu Toi is a New Zealand arts organisation that supports artistic excellence and facilitates private philanthropy through raising funds for the arts and allocating it to New Zealand artists.

The concept of setting up an organisation to raise private funding for the arts was initiated by Creative New Zealand in 1997. Its chair Brian Stevenson approached Richard Cathie to chair a working party on the subject and Sir Ronald Scott was appointed consultant, with help from Gisella Carr. Early working party members and trustees included Lady Mary Hardie Boys, Lady Gillian Deane, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Sir Paul Reeves, Sir John Todd, Sir Miles Warren and Sir Eion Edgar.

The foundation was incorporated as a charitable Trust in 1998 with Richard Cathie remaining as chair. Seed funding of $5m was secured from The Lottery Grants Board payable over 5 years and the foundation was launched in 2000.

The foundation produces award programmes that provide recognition and money prizes to New Zealand artists working in across all art forms. This includes writers, fine artists, musicians, dancers, choreographers, theatre-makers and screen artists.[1][2]


In 2002 Simon Bowden was appointed Executive Director and in 2003 the organisation held its first awards.[3][4] By 2008 the Arts Foundation had established an endowment fund of NZ$6 million and donated $3 million to over 100 artists across arts disciplines.[5]

In 2012 the Arts Foundation launched Boosted a crowdsourced funding platform.[6] The Arts Foundation Awards celebrate achievement in an artists career. Donations come from Patrons of the Arts Foundation and other sources and are awarded directly to artists at the annual New Zealand Arts Awards.[1]

Promotion of the arts is also part of the mandate of the Arts Foundation. In September 2019, the Arts Foundation launched the first New Zealand Arts Month. This campaign was supported by Creative NZ, Chartwell Trust, NZME, Phantom and Go Media.[3]


There is no application for the awards. Artists are selected by an independent panel of arts peers or curators and recipients of awards are selected without their knowing they are under consideration. The Arts Foundation administers this process.[7][8]

The Icon Awards, Whakamana Hiranga recognise a lifetime of achievement. Artists considered to have prominence and outstanding potential receive The Laureate Award. Artists in the early stages of their career were selected to receive a New Generation Award, and now receive a Springboard Award and mentorship from a Laureate or Icon.[3]

In partnership, the foundation produces the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award, of $25,000NZD to assist the career of a photographer, and the Harriet Friedlander Residency, which is a residency in New York valued at $80,000NZD.

The Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award was presented for the first time in 2011. The award is presented every two years to a children's book illustrator with published work of a high standard and includes a cash gift of $15,000.[9][10]

The Arts Foundation also administers the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship awarding a residency to Menton in France for a writer.[11][7]

Icon Award[edit]

The 2013 recipients of Arts Foundation Icon Awards, at a reception at Government House, Wellington. Left to right: Cliff Whiting, Jacqueline Fahey, Geoff Murphy, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Ian Athfield.

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand established the Icon Awards as a means to celebrate and acknowledge New Zealand art-makers who have achieved the highest standards of artistic expression.[12]

Limited to a living circle of 20, Icons are pioneers and leaders from all arts disciplines, living and working around the world. To date, 41 artists have been acknowledged as Icons. In 2003, eight artists were honoured, followed by one in 2004, seven in 2005, five in 2007, five in 2011, five in 2013, two in 2015, five in 2018, and three in 2020.[13]

Each Icon receives a medallion and pin designed by sculptor John Edgar. The recipient is gifted the pin in perpetuity, while the medallion is presented to a successor at a future Icon Award ceremony following the artist's death.

In 2008 the Arts Foundation began commissioning oral histories from Icons. In time, the foundation hopes that an oral history will be deposited with the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington covering the life of each Icon artist. This will ensure the artists' stories are on public record and available for future generations.

In October 2020, multiple allegations of historical sexual abuse were made against composer Jack Body, who had received the award in 2015 shortly before his death, by a number of his former students.[14] In November 2020, the allegations were described by Victoria University as "very credible", and the Arts Foundation announced that it had suspended Body's status as an Arts Icon while it "awaited further information".[15] In January 2022, following a formal apology by the university to these students, the Arts Foundation confirmed that his award was no longer recognised by the organisation.[16]

Living Icons[edit]

Name Portrait Year of award Age Discipline
1 Maurice Gee Maurice Gee.jpg 2003 91 Novelist
2 Sir Donald McIntyre
2004 90 Opera singer
3 Patricia Grace
Patricia Grace 2016 (tight crop).jpg 2005 85 Writer
4 Ans Westra
Ans Westra 2000 (cropped).jpg 2005 86 Photographer
5 Dame Gillian Weir
2011 82 Organist
6 Greer Twiss
Greer Twiss (cropped).jpg 2011 85 Sculptor
7 Sir Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson ONZ (cropped).jpg 2011 61 Filmmaker
8 Jacqueline Fahey
Jacqueline Fahey (cropped).jpg 2013 93–94 Painter
9 Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Kiri Te Kanawa 2013 (cropped).jpg 2013 78 Opera singer
10 Jim Allen
2015 100 Visual artist
11 Albert Wendt
Albert Wendt ONZ (cropped).jpg 2018 83 Writer
12 Fred Graham
Fred Graham 2018 (cropped).jpg 2018 94–95 Carver and sculptor
13 Bill Manhire
Bill Manhire.jpg 2018 76 Writer
14 Dame Gillian Whitehead
Gillian Whitehead DCNZM (cropped).jpg 2018 81 Composer
15 Joy Cowley
Joy·Cowley•Frankfurt·2012•Lisa·Gardiner.jpg 2020 86 Writer
16 Sir Sam Neill
Sam Neill 2017 (cropped).jpg 2020 75 Actor
17 Sandy Adsett
Sandy Adsett (cropped).jpg 2020 83 Visual artist
18 Fatu Feu'u
2022 76–77 Visual artist
19 Dame Jane Campion
Jane Campion DNZM (cropped).jpg 2022 68 Film director / writer
20 Dame Robin White
Robin White (cropped).jpg 2022 76 Artist

Deceased Icons[edit]

Name Portrait Year of award Date of death Discipline
Len Castle
Len Castle 1973 (cropped).jpg 2003 29 September 2011 Potter
Janet Frame
Janet Frame 1993 (cropped).jpg 2003 29 January 2004 Writer
Ralph Hotere
Ralph Hotere (cropped).jpg 2003 24 February 2013 Painter
Milan Mrkusich
2003 13 June 2018 Visual artist
Diggeress Te Kanawa
2003 30 July 2009 Weaver
Hone Tuwhare 2003 16 January 2008 Poet
Sir Miles Warren
Miles Warren ONZ 2009 (cropped).jpg 2003 9 August 2022 Architect
Peter Godfrey
2005 28 September 2017 Musician
Alexander Grant
2005 30 September 2011 Ballet dancer
Pakaariki Harrison
2005 29 December 2008 Carver
Russell Kerr
2005 23 March 2022 Choreographer
Margaret Mahy
Margaret Mahy at the Kaiapoi Club, 27 July 2011, smiling (digitally altered).jpg 2005 23 July 2012 Writer
Donald Munro
2005 18 January 2012 Opera singer
Raymond Boyce
2007 1 August 2019 Theatre designer
Don Peebles
2007 27 March 2010 Painter
Don Selwyn
2007 13 April 2007 Actor
Arnold Manaaki Wilson
Arnold Wilson MNZM (cropped).jpg 2007 1 May 2012 Sculptor
Barbara Anderson 2011 24 March 2013 Writer
Marti Friedlander
Marti Friedlander (cropped).jpg 2011 14 November 2016 Photographer
Sir Ian Athfield
Ian Athfield Arts-foundation-icon-awards-2013-006 (cropped).jpg 2013 16 January 2015 Architect
Geoff Murphy
Geoff Murphy (cropped).jpg 2013 3 December 2018 Filmmaker
Cliff Whiting
Cliff Whiting (cropped).jpg 2013 16 July 2017 Artist and heritage advocate
Billy Apple
Billy Apple 2018 (cropped).jpg 2018 6 September 2021 Visual artist

Laureate Award[edit]

Initially there were five artists honoured annually at the New Zealand Arts Awards ceremony receiving a Laureate Award of a NZ$50,000 grant each and a commissioned sculpture by Terry Stringer. No awards were awarded in 2018, and in 2019 the amount of the prize changed to NZ$25,000, new partnerships and awards were introduced and the Laureate Award will be given to up to ten practising artists.[17]

Named awards[edit]

Established in 2019:

  • The Theresa Gattung Female Arts Practitioners Award (awarded every year)
  • The Burr/ Tatham Trust Award (awarded every second year)
  • Gaylene Preston Documentary Film Makers Award (NZ$30,000 awarded every second year)

Established in 2020:

  • The Sir Roger Hall Theatre Award (NZ$25,000 awarded every second year, $5,000 awarded to more people the other year as Out of the Limelight awards)[18]
  • The My Art Visual Arts Award (awarded every year)
  • Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Award

Laureate Artists are New Zealanders practicing in any arts discipline, located anywhere in the world. The criteria has changed away from the terminology of 'best' which is subjective in the arts, instead focusing on the significance of work and the impact on New Zealand.[19][20] The Arts Foundation website states:

Arts Foundation Laureate Awards celebrate and empower New Zealand’s most outstanding practising artists - artists whose practise also has an impact on New Zealand.[21]

Laureates are able to use their award in any way they choose, for example, in the creation of new works, or the freedom to concentrate time and resources into the development of their career.[22]



Out of the Limelight Award recipients for 2021 were:[18]

  • Elizabeth Whiting – costume designer
  • Marcus McShane – lighting designer and visual artist
  • Harold Moot – set designer
  • Eric Gardiner – stage manager
  • Playmarket – the playwrights’ agency and script development organisation

New Generation Award[edit]

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Awards, celebrate artists’ early achievements through an investment in each recipient’s career. Biennially, five artists are awarded $25,000NZD each, and a sculpture designed by glass artist Christine Cathie. Although still at an early stage of their career, the artists will have already demonstrated excellence and innovation through their work.

Similar to other Arts Foundation Awards, the New Generation Award may be presented to an artist working in any arts discipline. Teacher, critic, theorist and organiser of contemporary creative practices, Jon Bywater (Auckland) curated the award in 2006, while writer, teacher, painter, curator Gregory O'Brien (Wellington) undertook the role in 2008 and arts radio journalist Lynn Freeman in 2010.[25]


  • Jeff Henderson, Music
  • Alex Monteith, Visual arts*
  • Madeleine Pierard, Music
  • Jo Randerson, Literature
  • Pippa Sanderson, Literature
  • Kushana Bush, Visual Arts
  • Kip Chapman, Theatre
  • SJD (Sean James Donnelly), Music

Springboard Award[edit]

From 2020 a Springboard award is given to up to ten emerging artists. This consists of NZ$15,000 and mentoring from one of the alumni of Arts Foundation Laureates, Icons, New Generation, residency or Fellowship recipients. Criteria relates to potential for a sustainable career.[26]




  • Min-Young Her - performance art, sculpture
  • Matasila Freshwater - writer, director
  • Ayesha Green - visual arts (painter)
  • Arjuna Oakes - musician
  • Moana Ete - writer, film maker, musician, curator
  • Bala Murali Shingade - film maker, writer, theatre maker

Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award[edit]

The inaugural Mallinson Rendel Illustrators award, initially worth $10,000 occurred in 2011. It has been awarded every two years up to 2017, and has increased in value.


Award for Patronage[edit]

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand Award for Patronage is made annually to a person, couple, or private trust for the outstanding private contributions they have made to the arts. The Award for Patronage is presented by Perpetual Trust.

As a community of artists and arts supporters, the Arts Foundation honours those who contribute significantly as patrons. Annually, a donation of $20,000NZD from the Arts Foundation is provided to the recipient of this award for them to distribute to artists, arts projects or arts organisations of their choice. Philanthropists Denis and Verna Adam (2006), Dame Jenny Gibbs (2007), Lady Gillian and Sir Roderick Deane (2008),[30] Adrienne, Lady Stewart (2009) and Gus & Irene Fisher (2010) have been recipients. All recipients have chosen to double the funds for distribution through a matching contribution of $20,000NZD, with Gus and Irene Fisher donating $30,000NZD of their own funds, meaning an annual distribution of up to $50,000NZD. Recipients have also chosen to distribute an amount of $10,000 each to artists and /or arts projects

Governors' Award[edit]

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand Governors' Award recognises an individual or institution that has contributed in a significant way to the development of the arts and artists in New Zealand. The recipients are chosen by Arts Foundation Governors, with each recipient receiving a plaque designed by Auckland artist Jim Wheeler.

To date two awards have been made:

The inaugural recipient was the University of Otago in recognition of its contribution to the arts community through its Burns, Hodgkins and Mozart Fellowships. The three Fellowships were set up through the generosity of anonymous benefactors and have subsequently been funded by additional grants to maintain their value.

The second presentation was made to Concert FM (now Radio New Zealand Concert). The Arts Foundation of New Zealand Governors recognised the contribution that Concert FM has made in supporting New Zealand composers, musicians, writers and actors at a national level. The Arts Foundation also acknowledged Concert FM's contribution to the arts through its recording collaborations and the Douglas Lilburn Prize (a joint initiative between Concert FM and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra).

In 2009 a third presentation was made to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. In making their selection, Arts Foundation Governors acknowledged the commitment by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery to the cause of contemporary art, particularly from Aotearoa New Zealand, over the last four decades.

Marti Friedlander Photographic Award[edit]

The Marti Friedlander Photographic Award, supported by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand is presented every two years to an established photographer with a record of excellence and the potential to carry on producing work at high levels. The award includes a donation of $25,000NZD for the photographer to use as they please.

The inaugural recipient selected and announced by Marti Friedlander, was Edith Amituanai – a widely exhibited artist and a finalist in a number of awards, including the 2008 Walters Prize. Extended family and immediate community are primary subjects for Edith; she collaborates closely with her Christchurch and Auckland relatives as well as people she grew up with in West Auckland.[31]

John Miller (an independent social documentary photographer, renowned particularly for his protest images) and Mark Adams (a photographer working with subjects of cross-cultural significance) were joint recipients in 2009.


Harriet Friedlander Residency[edit]

On 26 June 2008, the Harriet Friedlander Scholarship Trust and the Arts Foundation launched a new international residency.[32] A supporter of the arts, Harriet Friedlander also loved the vibrant culture of New York. When Michael and Harriet Friedlander and their sons Jason and Daniel designed the residency, Harriet was clear that she did not want to place any expectations or responsibilities on the recipient. An artist was to be sent to New York to have an "experience", all expenses paid, so that they could immerse themselves in the culture and process it in their own way.[32]

One of the most generous residencies offered to a New Zealand artist, up to $80,000NZD is made available every two years for their travel and living expenses. This opportunity is available to an artist aged 30 to 40, practicing in any discipline.[32] The inaugural curator was Gregory O'Brien and the inaugural recipient was filmmaker Florian Habicht.



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  15. ^ Mau, Alison (16 November 2020). "Victoria University launches reparation plan for survivors of famous composer's alleged sex abuse".
  16. ^ Mau, Alison (28 January 2022). "University apologises to students over celebrated composer's alleged sexual assaults". Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  17. ^ Wilson, Hannah (3 May 2019). "The Arts Foundation announce new strategic direction". Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
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  19. ^ "Arts Foundation Awards Selection Process". Arts Foundation. Archived from the original on 27 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
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  21. ^ "Arts Foundation Laureate Awards". Arts Foundation. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  22. ^ "Five new arts laureates". 4 November 2008. Archived from the original on 1 July 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
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  28. ^ "Jenny Cooper". Retrieved 11 February 2019.
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  32. ^ a b c "New international arts residency launched". Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  33. ^ "Harriet Friedlander Residency". Arts Foundation. Retrieved 11 July 2021.

External links[edit]