Portraits featuring whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), photography, ceramics and oil paintings are just some of the works shortlisted in the country's first portraiture award in honour of Kiingi Tuheitia.
The award, a partnership between the Office of the Kiingitanga and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, was launched to inspire a new generation of emerging Māori artists to create portraits of their tūpuna (ancestors).
The competition attracted an impressive 128 entries, of which 50 have been selected for the shortlist and will form the Finalists Exhibition.
Three Rotorua artists were among those shortlisted; Hikurangi Tikitiki-o-Rangi Mangu, Terry Ferguson and Matangireia Yates-Francis.
Artists were given an opportunity to showcase their talent on a national stage while competing for a first prize of $20,000. The runner-up and People's Choice Award receive $2500 respectively.
The entry criteria was open to emerging Māori artists who have either created an artwork within the last two years, or wish to create an artwork especially for the competition, using any visual medium, with whakapapa connections to the depicted tūpuna.
Entries from all over the country ranged from contemporary mixed media pieces to much more conventional media including oil painting, whakairo (carving) and raranga (weaving). Works in the award exhibition came as far north as Whangarei to as far south as Otago.
The finalist artworks were judged by a distinguished panel comprising renowned artists.
These include tohunga taa moko and kapa haka exponent Sir Derek Lardelli, celebrated artist, teacher and activist, Kura Te Waru Rewiri and artist Lisa Reihana, who is known around the world for her portraits and digital art.
"Kiingi Tuheitia is humbled and excited by the number of entrants received," the office of the Kiingitanga ranga tiki chief of staff archdeacon Ngira Simmonds said.
"This competition is a chance for Māori artists to shine and the Kiingitanga is proud to support the arts in this way.
"Sharing our whakapapa through art has always been important for our people. This award continues in that tradition and seeks to provide te iwi Māori with an opportunity to engage in a new kaupapa that is exciting."
Reflecting on the entries as a whole NZ Portrait Gallery director Brian Wood said: "The quality of entries was extremely high, with everyone paying great respect to their tūpuna as they depicted them in the various mediums."
The winning submission will be announced on May 27 and the exhibition will run at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakata in Shed 11 on Wellington's waterfront from May 28 to August 15.