2019 Highly Commended certificates presented

Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019, presented in Parliament by Arts Access Aotearoa, celebrated the award recipients and also the individuals, groups and organisations who received Highly Commended certificates in several of the award categories.

All photos: Vanessa Rushton Photography

Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award 2019

Highly Commended: Everybody Cool Lives Here, Wellington

Everybody Cool Lives Here representatives with Merrill Holdsworth of Holdsworth Charitable Trust Photo: Vanessa Rushton PhotographyEverybody Cool Lives Here are passionate about New Zealand stories and believe in pushing the boundaries around who and how they are told. They engage with multiple creative spaces and aid the creation of high-quality performance, predominately in theatre and dance. Their artists have faced barriers created by physical and learning disabilities and Everybody Cool Lives Here surround them with a vison of inclusion and support to achieve their goals.

The impact has been immense. Duncan Armstrong secured funding through Creative New Zealand for the first time in his ten-year career.  His solo work Force Field was performed at the Auckland Fringe and won three of the highest awards.

Jacob Dombroski wrote and performed his solo Big J Stylez at the NZ Fringe in Wellington, then secured a role on TVNZ’s Shortland Street.

Everybody Cool Lives Here believe everyone brings knowledge, and sets out to change one person’s mind every time they engage. Each tiny drop can promote systemic change, they say.

Judges’ comment: “This committed, small team is having a big impact and offers huge value to the people it works with. They empower and develop artists, support their ongoing career development, and challenge the arts sector to think differently.”

Highly Commended: Te Ara Korowai Wellbeing Centre, Kapiti Coast

Te Ara Korowai representatives with Merrill Holdsworth of Holdsworth Charitable Trust Photo: Vanessa Rushton PhotographyTe Ara Korowai is a gifted name meaning “Embrace the path with the cloak of support”.  It provides a safe, creative space for people facing tough times to find their path to recovery, whatever that means for them.  Members engage in a programme of creative workshops, seated yoga and training.

Among the Centre’s arts projects and many other achievements over the past two years are the 500 handmade poppies for ANZAC Day, a stunning Tree of Life wall mural that later hung in Parliament as part of Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2018, winning the 2018 Pimp My Jacket runway event through MIX, and WordsMatter, a six-week writing project held in a community café at Paraparaumu Beach welcoming a range of writer presenters, including slam champion RikTheMost, and singer/songwriter A J Crawshaw.

Judges’ comment: “Te Ara Korowai is having a big impact across its community, with exceptional outreach and participation. It has achieved a great deal within the resources it has. We were also impressed by its policy that 50% of its board must be people with lived experience of mental distress.”

Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award 2019

Highly Commended: Rue-Jade Morgan, Otago Corrections Facility

Rue-Jade Morgan with Minister Davis Photo: Vanessa Rushton PhotographyImprisoned for a serious crime, Rue-Jade was challenged while inside to take another positive pathway by a tutor of Māori arts and tikanga. He followed that pathway and became a lecturer at Otago Polytechnic.

Using that position and the understanding he built up on his life journey, he has created a programme in traditional martial arts and tikanga to support others in prison and probation services, primarily Otago Corrections Facility.

Rue-Jade’s programme targets Māori in high-security facilities, aiming to give them an understanding of who they are and where they come from. Following that, some prisoners have developed so much that they have been able to transfer to low-security areas and so become eligible for prison employment and training, which can equip them for life after prison. He also offers released prisoners a chance to pursue education opportunities at Otago Polytechnic as a means for them to continue engaging with education.

Judges’ comment: “Rue-Jade Morgan’s knowledge of tikanga, along with his application of traditional mau rakau and its values to the modern world, is transformative. His integrity and the depth of his impact on men in Otago Corrections Facility are simply inspiring.”

Arts Access Creative New Zealand Community Arts Award 2019

Highly Commended: Gisborne International Music Competition in partnership with Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Jolt, Gisborne

March La Roche with Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban Photo: Vanessa Rushton PhotographyLearning Support Units typically operate as islands within school grounds, with little meaningful integration between students with and without disabilities. The Gisborne Dance and Music Residency brought together nine students from the Learning Support Unit and 32 students from the music, dance and drama departments at Gisborne Girls’ High School to create a programme of original choreography and musical composition under the leadership of specialist tutors from Jolt Dance and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

The focus was to build the personal and artistic skills of the students in an all-encompassing environment that celebrated the beauty of diversity. The inclusive teaching team included tutor Rochelle Waters, who has Down syndrome. Over the three days, students both with and without disabilities, who had never previously interacted, learned to work inclusively, express themselves creatively, and communicate meaningfully through the process of artistic collaboration.

This residency culminated in an hour-long innovative and multi-layered performance for whanau, supporters, and staff, allowing all students to experience the self-esteem boost from having met and successfully overcome personal challenges.

Judges’ comment: “This opportunity for mainstream and learning support students to participate in a high-quality music and dance residency fostered inclusion, developed relationships and benefited all the participants in a range of ways. A wonderful project!”

Highly Commended: Te Whare Toi o Ngāruawāhia – Twin Rivers Art CentreTe Whare Toi o Ngāruawāhia – Twin Rivers Art Centre with Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban Photo: Vanessa Rushton Photography Centre for its Kia Toitu He Kauri project

With a background of poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and negative health statistics, schools in the Ngāruawāhia area collaborated to design, create, exhibit and install large murals at each school that tell the story of the kauri, the impact of kauri die-back disease and the importance of being kaitiaki of Te Ngahere. More than 250 tamariki were engaged in the design and creation of the artworks, and they prepared a korero for an exhibition booklet.

Each school planted a kauri tree and 1500 people in schools and in the community worked together for the public exhibition in the town hall. Tamariki gained significant benefit as individuals and a good understanding of their role as kaitiaki of Te Ngahere through the creative process. The smiles and sparkle in the eyes of those tamariki who often face significant challenges in their lives, said it all.

Judges’ comment: “This collaboration provided access to a high-quality art project where young people explored environmental issues and cultural themes through the design and creation of large murals. A wonderful example of community arts in action!”

Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2019

Highly Commended: Circa Theatre, Wellington

Georgia Laitif, Circa Theatre, with Stephen Wainwright, CE, Creative New ZealandCirca Theatre is increasing its audiences for accessible performances. For example, forty children and parents from BLENNZ attended a touch tour and an audio described performance of Puss in Boots – the Pantomime. There was outstanding feedback after its NZSL interpreted performance of Rants in the Dark early this year, and Circa staff were upskilled so they could use some basic NZSL to assist communication with Deaf audiences. In May 2018, helped by Circa’s strong relationships with Te Papa and WREDA, an accessible performance of Still Life with Chickens, was played to a local Pasifika community group.

New Access Ticket prices for visually impaired or Deaf members are $25 each with a free companion ticket, which helps boost numbers. Pay it Forward tickets are donated by the public, and Circa’s relaxed performance ticket prices are $10 per person with a free companion ticket. 

Judges’ comment: “Well done to Circa Theatre for its efforts over time to increase its accessibility by providing relaxed, sign interpreted and audio described performances. It has engaged with the Deaf and disabled community, listened to feedback and introduced reduced ticket prices. We also applaud its valuable partnership with its neighbour, Te Papa.” 

Arts Access PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award 2019

Highly Commended: Lusi Faiva, Auckland

Lusi has been a dancer and performer since 1997 and is a founding member of Touch Compass. She has participated in many performances, tours and workshops, primarily in New Zealand and Australia, with Touch Compass and Everybody Cool Lives Here. She also participated in the mixed ability dance teacher training in Germany.

Lusi performed in the acclaimed theatrical dance performance Lusi’s Eden, based on her childhood story, and she wrote and starred in a short film about her relationship with the guardians who were important to her. She has taught dance, choreographed short dance pieces and been a support dancer for the community contemporary class cooperation with Touch Compass. She has also taught integrated dance to school students, teaching them to value diversity.

Lusi is a very active and highly-regarded member of the arts community, having worked with many national and international choreographers over the years. She attends every show she is invited to, and always congratulates and supports fellow dancers and choreographers in their efforts, both in person and on social media. She is working on a new theatrical production called Mesina Returning Home, developed and co-ordinated with Frozen Light from the UK. She has also started working on an autobiography of her life as a performer with a disability. 

Judges’ comment: “Lusi Faiva has had a long dance career and is an outstanding advocate for inclusive dance. Her commitment to continue learning, teaching, collaborating and contributing is inspiring. Highly respected in the dance community, Lusi is now planning a book about her journey.”

Arts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga Award 2019

Highly Commended: Annah Mac, Otago Corrections Facility

Annah Mac with Rachel Leota, National Commissioner, Department of Corrections Photo: Vanessa Rushton PhotographyThere is a lot of musical talent in prisons and Annah Mac sees music as a tool that can be used throughout life to channel negative emotions in a positive way. In 2016, the Otago Corrections Facility accepted Annah’s proposal of The Kowhai Project, a ten -week programme teaching prisoners to play the ukulele or guitar, sing as a group, write songs and record a live demo.

The programme enables them to express a range of ideas and feelings in a positive way and provides a space for self-expression and mindfulness.  Developing confidence and the ability to articulate feelings has a flow-on positive impact on relationships with whanau and reintegration into the community.

The Kowhai Project has proved extremely successful and Annah has since delivered it to every prison in the South Island: Christchurch Women’s Prison, Christchurch Men’s Prison, Rolleston Prison, Otago Corrections Facility and Invercargill Prison. She is currently working toward producing a CD of songs from South Island prisons.

Judges’ comment: “The Kowhai Project, delivered by Annah Mac in all South Island prisons, provides significant benefits to the participants. Over ten weeks, prisoners learn a range of skills from playing a ukulele to singing, writing and recording songs, and the business of music.” 

Highly Commended: Nic Scotland, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison

Nic Scotland with Rachel Leota, National Commissioner, Department of Corrections Photo: Vanessa Rushton PhotographyMen at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison sit around the table painting, talking and listening. Sitting with them is artist and education tutor Nic Scotland, who says she constantly witnesses the improvement in their personal development and communication.

Nic teaches art every week to 70 men across five units who are all involved in art projects around HBRP. She empowers them with a sense of identity, wairua and an ability to communicate in a positive and meaningful way. Whanaungatanga underpins each class. The men have a sense of ownership of the projects and their contribution to the site community.

Nic led a group of young men to write and creatively illustrate an anti-bullying resource with related raps called Can You Relate? Their project went on to win the Resilience category of the Young Enterprise Scheme’s National Excellence Awards. The resource is being sold nationally and supported by Bullying Free NZ.

She brings community mentors into the prison, including musicians, sports people and actors, to support the youth. This year Real Talk is writing, recording and producing rap music, highlighting the struggles of young people, overcoming barriers and focusing on their hopes and dreams.

Nic embodies the positive traits of Maui in everything that she does.

Judges’ comment: “The standard of Nic Scotland’s arts delivery in Hawkes Bay Regional Prison is excellent and her work with the Youth Unit is award-winning. Nic works collaboratively to achieve great results; is innovative in promoting the prisoners’ artwork; and is able to make things happen.”





Robyn Hunt, Arts Access Accolade recipient and Dr Karen Webster, Chair, Arts Access AotearoaArts Access Accolade

Nine to Noon, RNZ
Regional News - Connecting Wellington

Arts Access Creative New Zealand Community Arts Award

The Project, TV3
The NZ Herald

Yaniv Janson with Kieran O'Sullivan, PAK'nSAVE Petone and Hutt City
Arts Access PAK'nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award

Hamilton News


Rautaktauri Music Therapy Trust with sponsor Merrill HoldsworthArts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award
Hawke's Bay Today
NZ Herald (Pay Wall)
Nights, RNZ

Ruth Ratcliffe and Rachel Leota, Department of CorrectionsArts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga  Award
Standing Room Only

Arrin Clark with Minister Kelvin DavisArts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award

Northland Age

Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award

Creative New Zealand

Rachel Leota, Department of Corrections and Nic Scotland, Hawkes Bay Regional PrisonArts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga  Award, Highly Commended
Hawkes Bay Today

Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban and Mark La Roche, Gisborne International Music CompetitionArts Access Creative New Zealand Community Arts Award, Highly Commended
Gisborne Herald




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