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Ponifasio takes top honour at Pacific Arts Awards

A pioneer of modern Pacific dance and theatre has won the supreme accolade at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards.Lemi Ponifasio, the founder and director of the MAU dance and theatre company, was named senior Pacific artist the annual awards ceremony in Wellington on Wednesday night.Creative New Zealand's Pacific arts committee chair, Pele Walker, says he's the acknowledged pioneer of contemporary Pacific dance and has taken it to the world to great acclaim.His latest show Birds with Skymirrors has won praise from critics and audiences in Europe, and was one of the audience favourites at this year's International Arts Festival in Wellington.Ms Walker says they've taken the unusual step of giving the contemporary artist award to Otara-based curator, EmaTavola, for putting Pacific arts on the map in south Auckland.But she says it reflects Ms Tavola's pivotal role in putting Pacific art on the map during her six years as manager of Otara's Fresh Gallery.Ms Walker says being a good curator is an art in itself.