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Sione's Wedding



made him well-known in New Zealand, now Oscar Kightley's achievements have been recognised by the arts community.


Kightley starred in the box office hit

Sione's Wedding

and is also a member of the Naked Samoans comedy group who together write the award winning TV3 series



Kightley is one of only five New Zealanders that will receive this year's prestigious Laureate Award in Auckland tonight.

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.

The other four winners were

Lord of the Rings

cinematographer Alun Bollinger, Auckland painter John Reynolds, Wellington poet and fiction writer Ian Wedde and experimental Dunedin musician Alastair Galbraith.

Each of the five artists will receive $50,000 for their troubles.

Directly after the award ceremony in Auckland tonight four of the five artists will travel to the South Island to share their stories on stage in Christchurch and Queenstown on November 1 and 2.

The South Island tour is sponsored by sharebrokers Forsyth Barr.

Top secondary school arts students will get the chance to meet the winners before they go on stage.

Forsyth Barr managing director Neil Paviour-Smith said the chance for students to meet the Laureate winners would be invaluable.

Arts Foundation chairman Ros Burden said the award helps New Zealand artists reach their full potential

"This significant investment in these prime movers in New Zealand culture ... ensures that their talents are celebrated both at home and on the world stage," she said.

She said the South Island tour would be great for the public.

"It is a great opportunity for the people of Christchurch and Queenstown to be the first to hear our new Laureates share insights," she said.

Previous winners include 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.