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Acorn Foundation Junior Art Awards 2023 Winners Announced: Celebrating Local Tamariki Talent


21 July 2023 - Tauranga Art Gallery and the Acorn Foundation proudly announce the winning young artists who have been recognised for their creativity and artistic prowess. The biennial competition which aims to foster and celebrate emerging talent in the local art community, has seen an overwhelming display of imagination and skill from budding creatives.

After much anticipation, the judges Nicol-Sanders O’Shea, Toi Ohomai Academic Leader Arts and Julie Paama-Pengelly, Chair of Te Tuhimareikura, have diligently reviewed all submissions and selected the standout winners across various categories. These talented individuals demonstrated exceptional vision and originality for this year’s theme: Ahurea Tuakiri Cultural Identity, setting the stage for promising futures in the world of art.

The Acorn Foundation Junior Art Awards Exhibition will showcase all 100 finalists’ masterpieces, offering an enriching experience for art enthusiasts and the community. Hosted by Toi Tauranga, this exhibition will be open to the public on Saturday 22 July, as the first in the final round of exhibitions before the Tauranga Art Gallery’s main building closes for redevelopment in October.

The exhibition is a visual treat, featuring an interdisciplinary array of paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and other impressive works of art created by young artists, each reflecting their unique perspectives and creative flair on cultural identity.

“On behalf of our anonymous art-loving donors, Acorn Foundation is so pleased to be able to support this wonderful initiative that encourages the creativity of our local rangatahi.” says Acorn Foundation CEO, Lori Luke.

The Acorn Foundation is deeply committed to supporting local talent and promoting the growth of arts and culture in the region. The Junior Art Awards is just one of the initiatives that reflect their dedication to fostering creativity and encouraging artistic expression.

Judges Statement
“The theme of Ahurea Tuakiri Cultural Identity in this year’s Junior Art Awards is represented by a diverse range of media exploration. Each age group powerfully expressed their self-identity matched with creative technical skill. The pieces that stood out for us showed a maturity in their formal art qualities and use of media and explored the theme in an original way. Overall the works on display are colourful and playful. There is a sense that life is good in the Bay of Plenty. These youthful artists have engaged with profound concepts such as self-esteem, icons of cultural heritage, gender diversity, whanau, and place as well as social, behavioural and personal values and all together visually signify unique cultural identities in 2023 Aotearoa New Zealand.”


People’s Choice Award:
#54 Tyler Sisson, 11
Tū Kaha (Courage in the sky), 2023
Acrylic on canvas

Innovation Award:
#63 Rowan Sutherland, 11
The Rowen Tree, 2023
Indian ink and acrylic on a recycled drum skin

Friends of the Tauranga Art Gallery Award:
#29 Mirabelle Were, 7
Ururangi, 2023
Acrylic on canvas

Tauranga City Council Award:
#100 Hyunseo Lee, 17
Cultural Standards, 2023
Acrylic on paper

Best in Age Group (4-5 Years):
#3 Sienna Cribb, 5
Magic Mountain, 2023
Paint on canvas

#6 Millie, 5
All About Me’ Korowai, 2023
Mixed media

Best in Age Group (6-8 Years):
#24 George Ford, 8
What Makes Me, Me, 2023
Paint and pen on canvas

#46 Natalia Inez Cartes, 7
Reflection, 2023

Best in Age Group (9-11 Years):
#52 Pippa Airey, 11
I AM…taonga collection, 2023
Mixed media

#63 Rowan Sutherland, 11
The Rowen Tree, 2023
Indian ink and acrylic on a recycled drum skin

Best in Age Group (12-14 Years):
#90 Mathilde Claxton, 12
Culture, 2023
Digital drawing

#85 Lucca Green, 13
Her, 2023
Mixed media on paper

Best in Age Group (15-18 Years):
#100 Hyunseo Lee, 17
Cultural Standards, 2023
Acrylic on paper

#98 Jemima Thomas, 17
Ko Wai Au?, 2023
Acrylic on paper


PLEASE NOTE that these images are provided for the purposes of news reporting in relation to these specific exhibitions only. MAY NOT crop, edit, overprint, recolour, or otherwise manipulate these images in any way. The images must always be fully credited, as per the provided credit lines, in every instance of reuse.  

Principal Funder

Annual Strategic Partners