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National Contemporary Art Award 2021

18 September 2021 - 20 February 2022

Free entry

Brave, colourful, and never shy. The art of now.

Each year the National Contemporary Art Award brings the best in Aotearoa contemporary art to the Waikato. The finalists on display are selected via a blind-judging process by the annually appointed judge.


Floor talk

See what judge Karl Chitham had to see about choosing this year's winners:


Virtual tour

Can’t make it here to see the exhibition in person? Enjoy this footage of every finalist artwork to recreate the experience of wandering through the gallery:



The overall winner in 2021 received $20,000 from co-sponsors Tompkins Wake and Chow:Hill Architects. The Hugo Charitable Trust Award of $5000 went to the runner-up, and the merit award winners received $1000 each, supported by Random Art Group and Friends of Waikato Museum. The $250 Campbell Smith Memorial People’s Choice Award winner was chosen via public votes.

2021 National Contemporary Art Award Winner sponsored by Tompkins Wake & Chow:Hill

Caryline Boreham

Runner Up Award sponsored by Hugo Charitable Trust

Rua Kēnana and Pinepine Te Rika’s descent from Mt Maungapōhatu
Brett a’Court

Merit Award sponsored by Friends of Waikato Museum

D Milton Browne

Merit Award sponsored by Random Art Group

The Art of Value
John Guy Johnston

Campbell Smith Memorial People’s Choice Award

Hope is the Thing with Feathers 2
Rozana Lee



The finalists for the 2021 National Contemporary Art Award are:

  • Rua Kēnana and Pinepine Te Rika's descent from Mt. Maungapōhatu – Brett a'Court, Northland (Runner up, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • Nexus – Denise Batchelor, Northland
  • Palmolive – Caryline Boreham, Auckland (Winner, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • The Killing Chain – Brit Bunkley, Whanganui
  • Fruit Bowl IIII - Oliver Cain, Auckland
  • Equanimity (2021) – Trish Campbell, Auckland
  • Untitled – Alex Chalmers, Whangārei
  • Aletheia – Julia Christey, Hamilton
  • Concrete 2 – Ruth Cleland, Auckland
  • Joy Mountain - Natasha Cousens, Tauranga
  • Maelstrom - David Cowlard, Auckland
  • 2021 – Antony Densham, Auckland
  • lab 20-10AB – Leslie Falls, Hastings
  • Hikoi rā- walk there – Fraser Findlay, Whanganui
  • ART – Stuart Forsyth, Wellington
  • No Meat And All Vege – Jacquelyn Greenbank, Christchurch
  • The genius loci of the chapel – Natalie Guy, Auckland
  • Solv No. 4 – Levi Hawken, Auckland
  • The Art of Value – John Guy Johnston, Auckland (Merit Award, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • Anatomy of a Stream – Paul V Johnston, Auckland
  • Sol 956 – Yoon Tae Kim, Auckland
  • Hope is the Thing with Feathers 2 – Rozana Lee, Auckland (Winner, Campbell Smith Memorial People’s Choice Award)
  • Flagstaff Hill, April 2021 – Thomas Lord, Dunedin
  • The Incredible Lightness Of Being – Kaye McGarva, Havelock North
  • Gaze – D Milton Browne, Dunedin (Merit Award, 2021 National Contemporary Art Award)
  • La teu le vā – Leanne Morrison, Hastings
  • Late Model Mazda – Mark Purdom, Hamilton
  • Solo Exercise – Naomi Roche, Hamilton
  • Malaga – Raymond Sagapolutele, Auckland
  • Has It Ever Been More Tense Than Now: The Post Covid Apocalypse – Kyle Sattler, Tauranga
  • rorrim lartnec – Mark Soltero, Lyttelton
  • Companion Pieces – Natalie Tozer, Auckland
  • The Misunderstanding – May Trubuhovich, Auckland
  • Diasporas Children – Telly Tuita, Wellington
  • Blue Hours – Haihui Wang, Auckland
  • Wishing well – Cora-Allan Wickliffe, Auckland
  • Progress – Alex Wilkinson and Ben Wilson, Kihikihi
  • AhoTāniko (connection) – Sheree Willman, Wellington

2021 Judge

The Dowse Art Museum Director Karl Chitham (Ngaa Puhi, Te Uriroroi) selected 2021’s finalists and prize winners through a blind-judging process. He is an experienced judge, with recent credits including the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and the selection panel for the New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Well-known in art circles around New Zealand, Chitham has held curatorial roles at Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, and Objectspace.


Exhibition catalogue

Download a PDF copy:
2021 National Contemporary Art Award exhibition catalogue
[PDF file, 1MB, 32 colour pages]


Major Sponsors


Hugo Award

hugo roundel green RGB009A49

Merit Awards

Random Art Group

Friends of Waikato Museum

People's Choice Award

Family of former Waikato Museum Director Campbell Smith