Laureate Award Recipients Shocked To Recieve The Award

Rebecca Quilliam
Five artists at the top of their chosen fields have received the prestigious Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award tonight.

Pianist Michael Houstoun, dancer Sarah-Jane Howard, entertainer Moana Maniapoto, theatre director Colin McColl, and ceramicist Merilyn Wiseman were all recognised for their artistic achievements at Wellington's Embassy Theatre.

They were each presented with $50,000.

McColl, Howard, Maniapoto and Wiseman all said they could not believe they had won the honour.

"I actually thought it was a hoax," Howard said.

When she was convinced it was otherwise, she said it was such an honour to be held in the same regard as previous winners.

McColl said he was "flabbergasted" with the news and had no idea what he was going to spend the money on.

Maniapoto said the prizemoney would go towards clearing the credit cards and helping with her band.

She said the news of her award was "left of centre and that's what makes it so outrageous".

Wiseman was the first ceramicist to be awarded a laureate and said the prize would help her to try out some exploratory ideas with her work.

The laureates have been in existence since 2000.

They were created by the New Zealand Arts Foundation and are funded by a $6 million endowment fund.

Previous winners include Bro Town creator Oscar Kightley, film maker Gaylene Preston, actor Michael Hurst, and musician Don McGlashan.

Since 2000 the arts foundation has awarded 34 New Zealand artists with laureates and distributed a total of $1.4 million.

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