Two Northland artists will use part of their winnings to pay it forward and inspire other aspiring artists.

Whangarei's Anthony Dunn, 40, and Graham Nathan, 44, students in their final year of NorthTec's Maunga Kura Toi - Bachelor of Maori Arts course, scooped two awards at the Whangarei Sculpture Symposium.

The symposium was held over 10 days on the Hihiaua Peninsula.

The pair received scholarships to enter the symposium from Te Wananga o Aotearoa, where they had previously completed the Maori Arts diploma.


Their piece - He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata - won the Te Au Marie Award worth $4000 and the People's Choice Award worth $1000.

Mr Nathan said the pair wanted to use the people's choice money to sponsor two students for the next symposium.

"We appreciated the exposure we got, the experience and the friends we made. We thought the best thing we can do is pay it forward."

The pair wanted to pass on the opportunity that they had.

He said their scholarship would be called Te Ahi Ko Mau and dedicated in the memory of Te Kuiti Stewart, one of their tutors who died last month.

The friends who are "like brothers" said they were happy they could match it with established artists, despite it being their first time working with stone.

"Like the nature of the medium we had to be soft with it, which is totally different from bashing away at wood," Mr Dunn said.

The theme of the symposium was "Journey" and drew inspiration from the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's journey to New Zealand, which will be celebrated next year.

Their piece represents Captain Cook, Tupaia his Tahitian navigator and local Maori and the world views they each brought to their initial engagement.

"The idea is that we are all cut from the same stone. We all aspire to the same things for ourselves, our children, our children's children and our planet."

Their piece will be installed at Kerikeri Airport as part of the 250th anniversary commemorations.

Creative Northland general manager Hinurewa Te Hau said the symposium was a success, with 19 pieces auctioned last week.

Twelve sold at auction, while Mr Dunn and Mr Nathan's piece was bought by the Te Au Marie 1769 Trust and Whangarei District Council bought a work by Steve Molloy to be installed on the Hihiaua Peninsula.

Ms Te Hau said the auction raised $42,450 for the artists, and Creative Northland take a commission of $9603 to cover costs and set up the next one.

She said that total was down on 2016's event which raised more than $60,000 but in 2016, 29 pieces went under the hammer.