A Year 13 Rotorua Lakes High School student has beaten more than 80 other entrants in an art competition to win a $10,000 scholarship as supreme winner.

Leroy Nurkka is the supreme winner of Rotorua Museum's The Art of Remembering - Te Pu o Mahara competition.

Winners were announced at a special opening of the exhibition at The Arts Village yesterday.

The month-long exhibition at The Arts Village showcases the 23 finalist works from the competition.


Rotorua Museum's education team asked local high school students to create an artwork based on a Rotorua person who served in World War I.

After selecting a person from a range of researched people, the students then set about interpreting an aspect of their story through one of seven visual art mediums.

These were painting, print making, sculpture, moving image, photography, digital or mixed media.

Leroy said when his painting was revealed as the supreme winner he felt mostly shock at first, which slowly turned to happiness.

"I'm just happy my artwork was recognised for the effort that was put into it."

He said the scholarship would be a huge help for his planned double major studies in theatre and art at Victoria University next year.

As supreme winner he has also won a trip to Wellington with his art teacher to visit The Scale of Our War exhibition at Te Papa and go on a tour of Weta Workshop.

Leroy selected Christabel MacFarlane to showcase the importance of nurses who served in the war.


"She was still putting in all the sacrifices and efforts. She came back from the war but still had to go through the horrors of it."

Christabel enlisted to serve in 1917, aged 30, and was part of the New Zealand Army Nursing Service.

She embarked on the hospital ship Maheno which played an important role during the Gallipoli campaign carrying thousands of wounded soldiers from Anzac Cove to the nearby Greek Islands.

He thought the competition was a great opportunity because it allowed young artists in Rotorua to get their work out into the community and showcase it to the public.

"A huge thank you [to Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust for their funding and for the competition in general."

Megan Malcom, art and photography teacher at Rotorua Lakes High School, said the award could not have gone to a more deserving student.

"This young man deserves it. He has great integrity. He is determined and driven to produce his very best work and he will use this prize wisely."

Three Excellence in Art Awards were also handed out during the ceremony to entries the judges felt were of exceptional standard.

The first was awarded to Jared Lewis (Western Heights High School, Year 13) who used digital media to tell the story of Cecil Goodson, a driver for New Zealand Field Artillery.

Two students from Rotorua Girls High School were also awarded Excellence in Art Awards.

Animata Te Runa Tukiwaho (Year 10, Photography) and Martine Rose Anne Ocangas (Year 13, Digital Media) who created artworks based on Eric Cobledick, a Private in the Wellington Infantry Regiment.

The 23 finalist entries were judged by Rotorua Museum operations manager Cat Jehly, Monty Morrison from Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust and Pita Anaru from the Rotorua RSA and Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust.

Cat Jehly was impressed by the quality of artwork and the range of techniques and mediums students used.

"All artworks show a depth of maturity and sensitivity that students expressed in capturing of these personal war stories."

Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust provided the scholarship prizes.

The six local high schools that participated were Western Heights High School, Rotorua Girls High School, Rotorua Boys High School, Te Kura Kaupapa o te Ruamata, Rotorua Lakes High School and Reporoa College.

They each will receive a $1000 voucher from National Art Supplies.

The Art of Remembering - Te Pu o Mahara exhibition will be on display at The Arts Village from 20 April until 25 May 2018.