Talent wins spot at Weta

16:00, Dec 10 2013
FAN WEAR: This piece is a Cook Islands fan crafted from Rabbitohs caps purchased at the markets.

Emerging artist Aaron Unasa is shaping a successful career out of junk.

His work recreating Pacific Island artifacts from found objects has won him a paid internship at Weta Workshop - the design and special effects hub linked to award winning film maker Peter Jackson and movies including King Kong and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

The 22-year-old Mt Eden resident uses an unusual assortment of items to create works that reflect his identity as a Pacific Islander born in New Zealand.

CULTURAL TWIST: Award-winning artist Aaron Unasa holds a cricket bat carved to represent a Samoan weapon called faalaufai. It is part of a series looking at how sport has become a big part of the Pacific Island community.

One example is a cricket bat carved into a traditional Samoan weapon.

His work won him the Creativity Award at the 2013 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards during a ceremony last night in Wellington.

The prestigious title comes with the Weta placement.


"I'm just over the moon," Mr Unasa says. "I never thought I'd get to Weta Workshop, let alone at this age.

"I'm hoping to get into the costume and armour department because I always like working with stuff that references the body."

Mr Unasa delved into the world of sculpture during the late stages of his degree at Elam School of Fine Arts.

"I was randomly walking around and going through the skip and I decided to assemble stuff with rubbish," he says.

"I'm always fascinated with things I find in the rubbish and just being able to put them together in different ways. It's more exciting than sitting in the studio and painting."

His work has drawn praise from the arts community and in June he won Elam's Best Visual Communication Award for his series entitled Wear With Pride.

"People like the way I assemble the work, because when I put the pieces together I break the material down to its finest parts, so nobody knows what it actually is," he says.

"I think the fact that it keeps people guessing is what they find exciting and just the actual craft of it too."

Mr Unasa is also part of a large arts collective called The Roots, which aims to inspire and empower young people through community ventures.

He got involved earlier this year when he was fresh out of arts school.

"I'd never done much community work before that, so it was quite a new experience but I think it's something that you've just got to have fun with and try not to take too seriously or the kids won't enjoy it," Mr Unasa says.

Visit pacificyouth awards.org.nz for more information.

Central Leader