Auckland artist Zarahn Southon has won the Martin Hughes Contemporary Pacific Art Award. The award, presented in partnership with Creative New Zealand's Pacific Art Committee, is a $5000 travel grant. Previous recipients have been Andy Leleisi'uao, Niki Hastings-McFall, Sheyne Tuffery, Ross T. Smith and Tui Hobson.

Southon, presented with the award last night, will use it to take master classes in figurative painting at the Angel Academy in Florence. The 30-year-old recently completed a successful exhibition at the Milford Gallery in Auckland, of which our critic T.J. McNamara said, "There is a strong illustrative, narrative quality and Southon's virtuoso painting is of a high order."

Southon's winning entries (an investigation of the New Zealand wars and the kingitanga movement) are on show at Martin Hughes in the Axis Building, 91 Lower St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, along with work by previous winners and finalists, until December 20.