The winners of an inaugural arts competition aimed at positively promoting the Waikato River and its importance to both iwi and community will be announced at a special awards ceremony today.
Sponsored by Waikato-Tainui and McCaw Lewis, 24 finalists have been selected for the Waikato River Art Awards.
The artworks will vie for a series of awards including the Waikato-Tainui Award, a youth award and the overall award.
The competition's theme - ''Tooku Awa Koiora: The River of Life, Each Curve More Beautiful than the Last'' - is derived from a maimai aroha (lament) shared by Taawhiao, the second Maori King, and also forms part of the vision and strategy to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River.
Artists were encouraged to produce art work that conceptualises the beauty of the river, either as it is now or as it could be in the future.
''We are very pleased to partner with McCaw Lewis to support this arts initiative,'' Waikato Raupatu River Trust implementation manager Taipu Paki said.
''This is a fantastic opportunity to focus on the Waikato River through the imagination and aspirations of our artistic communities.''
Tauranga-based artist James Ormsby, who along with renowned carver Fred Graham and arts advocate Barbara Moke selected the winners, said he was humbled to be part of the judging panel and appreciated the diversity of the entries.
''The messages in the work are challenging, confronting and honest. It was as if we were experiencing an ordering of our imaginative order. To see that process coming through the work that was submitted is very encouraging.''
A total prize package worth more than $5000 will be distributed to the winners and includes a hoe nukenuke by Waikato carver Warren McGrath.
The announcement of the winning works will be made tonight at the Foundation Bar.
An exhibition of all the selected works submitted will be on display at Te Awa and will give the public a chance to view the winners, as well as select a winner for a people's choice award.
The exhibition will be held in the Atrium at the northern end of Te Awa (The Base) from today until June 25. It is free and open to the public.
- Waikato Times