The winners of the 2019 Rotorua Museum Art Awards have been announced and one person has walked home with a $10,000 prize.

Iwi Le Comte won the Rotorua Museum Supreme Art Award with his work Te Ipukarea ahead of 187 other entries.

The winners were announced by judge Leafa Wilson tonight who noted while Te Ipukarea was the smallest work in the entire exhibition it had the most overwhelming and warm presence.

"I was immediately drawn to this work which is made of Ōnewa stone and pearl inlay.

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"Lovingly made with contemporary tools, the aspirations, mana and mauri of Le Comte's tīpuna have breathed life into this taonga.

"The scale of the work doesn't automatically signify the mana that it exudes."

More than 350 guests were at the award ceremony.

Bree Straker was awarded the Lockwood Youth Award for her acrylic on glass. Photo / Supplied
Bree Straker was awarded the Lockwood Youth Award for her acrylic on glass. Photo / Supplied

The winners and finalists were chosen using a blind judging process, based purely on the merits of the artworks. Wilson said she knew the Bay of Plenty had a rich art tradition and this was reflected in this year's entries.

"The breadth of media and subject matter always makes it difficult to compare any aspect of one work to another let alone choose one work over another," Wilson said.

The Toi Ohomai Innovation in Art Award went to Heather Kremen for her work Protected in the Night, Bree Straker received the very first ever Lockwood Youth Award for her work Ruby and Mark Noble was named as Friends of Rotorua Museum Emerging Artist for his work Why-Tangi.

Wilson also felt two artworks deserved a special judges award.

Jeanette Pleijte and Lynette Fisher received merit certificates for their respective works; Christchurch 15-03-19 and Me Too (2018).

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In addition to the six awards announced, people can vote for their favourite artwork either in the gallery or via the Rotorua Museum Facebook page.

It was the highest number of entries ever received with 188 artworks from 149 artists entered in the competition Rotorua Museum operations manager Cat Jehly said.

"The huge interest in this year's competition really highlights the importance of the art awards and the need to support the wealth of artistic talent across the Bay of Plenty.

"As well as the exhibition of finalists we are also preparing a Salon des Refusés (exhibition of works not selected) to showcase other works that entered.

"All artworks in both exhibitions are for sale, so I encourage the public to visit the exhibitions while they are open."

The four winning works and 54 other selected finalists will remain on display to the public at the Energy Events Centre, until November 10.