Rotorua and Te Arawa's Te Ariki (Derek) Morehu and Rotoiti-based weaver Matekino Lawless have been honoured in this year's Creative New Zealand (CNZ) Te Waka Toi Awards, held in Rotorua on Saturday.

The annual awards celebrate the lives and successes of Nga Toi Maori practitioners and advocates, and are a springboard for emerging artists.

Established in 1986, the awards are the only national Maori art awards that celebrate all art forms, recognising leadership, outstanding contribution, excellence and potential in the Maori world.

Weaving veteran Mrs Lawless (Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Whawhakia), who has lived at Lake Rotoiti for more than 50 years, received the supreme award for exemplary contribution to Nga Toi Maori, Te Tohu Aroha mo Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

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Weaving for 60 years, she is a role model whose benchmark is quality. Her skills and expertise continue to be recognised nationally and internationally. She was awarded a Queens Service Medal (QSM) in 1999 and a CNZ Kingi Ihaka Te Waka Toi Award in 2008 to honour her contribution to weaving.

Mr Morehu (CNZM) was honoured for his lifetime of service to Maori arts with a Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka award. He is an elder of Te Arawa and Mataatua, and has spearheaded the revitalisation of the customs and traditions of his iwi. He has been heavily involved in the kohanga reo movement.

Former Rotorua woman Huhana Morgan (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Wahiao, Ngati Te Roro o Te Rangi), who lives in Bluff, was also honoured for her work as a weaver and for marae arts and karanga, and is a valued leader in her community.

She first started to weave taniko at Whakarewarewa at age 8, taught by Hei Tiki Blair, and now is passionate about sharing her knowledge.

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