Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2020, presented online 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.

Arts Access PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award 2020

Highly Commended: Liz Manson, Dunedin

Liz Manson

Liz Manson uses art, including performing arts and film, as a way to comment on and destigmatise mental health issues, of which she has personal experience. She has performed in the Dunedin Fringe Festival two years running. It would have been three years if COVID-19 hadn’t prevented it but she says her work for the 2021 Dunedin Fringe is in progress. She has also done sculpture, and a lot of painting, and has several tertiary qualifications in the arts field. Liz was Highly Commended in her category for her award-winning achievements and her creative out-of-the-box ideas that provoke and challenge perceptions of mental health.

Judges’ comment: “Liz Manson is Highly Commended for her impressive multi-disciplinary practice and extensive career in visual arts and film. Spanning academia to community engagement and gallery exhibitions, her conceptual and innovative ideas are informed by and challenge perceptions of mental health.”

Highly Commended: Pelenakeke Brown, Auckland

 Pelenakeke BrownBefore returning to New Zealand to become Artistic Director for Touch Compass in mid-2020, Pelenakeke Brown had spent six years in the US, where she worked with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the Gibney Dance Center.

Pelenakeke was selected as a 2020 Eyebeam Artist-in-Residence, and as one of the four choreographers for AXIS Dance Company’s 2020 Choreo-Lab. She has received a Dance/NYC’s Disability Dance Artistry Award and was the curator for the Artists of Color Council Movement Research at Judson Church Spring season. 

She has had work published in the Hawai‘i Review, the Apogee Journal, and the Movement Research Performance Journal issue. She attended the National Academy School of Fine Art, Studio Intensive Program in New York. She has also worked with the Munich Goethe Institute in Germany, and her first qualification was a BA in English Literature and Pacific Studies, concentrating on art and literature by Pasifika artists, from Auckland University. 

Judges’ comment: “Pelenakeke Brown has an outstanding background of artistic achievement both in New Zealand and internationally. Her award-winning work, spanning drawing, writing and movement, is innovative and exciting. A founding member of Touch Compass Dance Company, she has returned to the company as its first disabled artistic director.”

Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award 2020

Highly Commended: Kākano Youth Arts Collective, Auckland

Kakano Youth Arts CollectiveSince 2013, the Kākano Youth Arts Collective has been providing a creative pathway for young people all over West Auckland who have been excluded from mainstream education. Kākano Youth Arts Collective have participated in many sculpture and mural installations, as well as taking part in many other community arts events and partnerships. The young people in the collective have the opportunity to learn a different visual art form each week, which means they end up with a portfolio of works, and increased confidence and focus. 

Judges’ comments: “Kākano Youth Arts Collective has the wow factor! We love its mahi, using visual arts and creativity to develop and empower vulnerable rangatahi. The artists take ownership of the programmes and there are high levels of commitment from the community. This space is a beacon for positive change.”

Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts for All Award 2020

Highly Commended: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Auckland Philharmonia OrchestraWith the support of audio company Phonak and a private donor, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra invested in specialist equipment that allows patrons to moderate the volume of an orchestral concert: for example, autistic people who would otherwise find the noise level of an orchestra performance too overwhelming are able to modify it to suit themselves. A ‘feed’ of the music being played by the orchestra is sent from the sound engineer’s desk to the device, and the wearer, who listens to the music via headphones, can then use a remote control to adjust the volume to the level that they prefer. It can also block out the noise of audience chatter, has the capability to be used alongside hearing aids to help people with hearing impairments to be able to hear the music more clearly, and could potentially be used for audio description for people with vision impairments.

Judges’ comments: “We love this innovative, creative use of technology to make its music more accessible to autistic people. We commend its consultation and feedback processes, and generosity in partnering with other organisations to maximise the benefits of this device. This has the potential to support a range of disabilities and we look forward to the next stage in this exciting project.”

Arts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga Award 2020

Highly Commended: Leonie Aben, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison

Leonie AbenLeonie Aben is the acting Prison Director of Hawkes Bay Regional Prison. She has been working for Ara Poutama Aotearoa - Department of Corrections for 27 years, mostly at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison. Her personal love of the arts turned into a professional passion when she saw the positive therapeutic impact it had on the men in Te Tirohanga, the prison’s Māori focus unit.  Leonie shows outstanding commitment, innovation and leadership in driving the use of the arts and culture as a powerful rehabilitative tool. Through arts, such as whakairo, kōwhaiwhai, raranga and kapa haka, men reconnect with their whakapapa and cultural heritage.  Leonie sees the arts as highly complementary to the department’s Hōkai Rangi strategy aimed at lowering the proportion of Māori in the corrections system.

Judges’ comments: “Leonie Aben shows outstanding commitment, innovation, and leadership in driving the use of arts and culture as a powerful rehabilitative tool at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison. Leonie empowers those around her to create therapeutic and safe environments and has built valuable partnerships with local iwi to support the men.”

Arts Access Creative New Zealand Community Arts Award 2020

Highly Commended: Wellington Inclusive Dance (WIDance), for The Art of Observation

WIDance performing The Art of ObservationWellington Inclusive Dance (WIDance) performed The Art of Observation in early March 2020 at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, performing dance pieces based on artworks being shown as part of the Wallace Art Awards, which the Academy was hosting at the time. They performed five shows over a weekend, two afternoon performances and three evening ones. The shows were designed to be as accessible as possible: they were free, open to anyone, in an accessible venue, relaxed, all had integrated audio description, and the two evening performances were NZSL-interpreted. They were all under an hour long, and people could come and go during this time as they chose. Across all the shows, WIDance had an audience of about 300 people. WIDance produced a collaborative, innovative and inclusive project delivered with deep insight and integrity in the New Zealand Portrait Gallery as part of the NZ Fringe Festival 2019.

Judges’ comments: “Consideration of accessibility was an integral factor from the outset of this outstanding collaborative project. Audio description, a relaxed environment, and NZSL interpretation were thoughtfully interwoven into the performances of The Art of Observation and the artwork in the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. This was a fantastic opportunity for audiences to experience an innovative, inclusive work delivered with deep insight and integrity.”

Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award 2020

Highly Commended: Jacqui Moyes and Home Ground, Wellington

Home Ground

Home Ground is a collaborative creativity and wellbeing initiative for women who have experienced incarceration or are engaged in the justice system. The initiative is divided into four projects – Tahi, Rua, Toru and Whā – delivered in the Wellington community or Arohata Prison.

The projects use creative arts practice, such as theatre, photography, creative writing and music as a non-threatening, strengths-based approach to self-empowerment, community connectedness and wellbeing. Artists both inside and outside of prison are encouraged to create art projects that talk about the issues women and whānau face in the justice system.

Home Ground were Highly Commended in their category for their strong collaboration with women in the justice system, working across Prison and Probation with trauma-informed practice and building a community of artists with lived experience of the justice system.  

Judges’ comments: “This innovative programme uses creativity to encourage women in the justice system to get in touch with who they are and deal with the difficult, often traumatic things that have happened in their lives. The feedback from the participants speaks for itself, and the level of care and passion of the programme director, Jacqui Moyes, shines through.”


2020 Highly Commended certificates presented


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