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AF ICONS Header Image

Meet our 2022 Icons

The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi welcome three extraordinary creatives into a living circle of twenty of New Zealand’s most significant artists.

Established in 2003, Whakamana Hiranga – the Icon Awards are our highest honour, bestowed to a living circle of twenty of New Zealand’s most significant artists for their extraordinary lifetime achievements and mark on the arts. The awards recognise the remarkable impact each artist has had on their practice, community, and the cultural landscape of Aotearoa.

This year – 2022 – marks a total of forty-four artists honoured as Icons since the beginning of the awards. Twenty are living, and twenty-four have passed on.

“Our three newest recipients of the Icon Whakamana Hiranga demonstrate the preeminence this honour deserves. They join a circle of 20 living artists, who have in their own unique ways deeply impacted the arts landscape in Aotearoa. At this time we also think of our wonderful friend, the late Sir Eion Edgar, who along with Lady Jan Edgar was the Founding Patron of this award. This is our first Icon celebration without him, and I know he would have been deeply proud of, and inspired by, our three recipients and their contribution to the legacy of these awards. Congratulations to all.” - The Arts Foundation Chair, Garth Gallaway

Meet our three 2022 Arts Foundation Icon Whakamana Hiranga recipients.



New Zealand director, producer and screenwriter Dame Jane Campion DNZM is one of contemporary cinema’s most notable film-makers. As the first female director in history to receive the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival (1993) for THE PIANO – Jane is internationally renowned for smashing glass ceilings with her uncompromising and innovative style, along with her commitment to portraying a complex side of women not often seen on screen.

Read more about Dame Jane Campion


Visual Arts

Fatu Feu’u is an internationally renowned artist – acknowledged as both a leader and mentor within the Pasifika arts community. He has been pivotal in shaping the interest in contemporary Pacific art globally, and nurturing a generation of Pacific artists locally. His works frequently blend traditional and contemporary elements, incorporating a range of influences, inspirations, techniques and motifs from Samoa and Aotearoa and more generally from Euro-American to Pacific cultures.

Read more about Fatu Feu'u


Visual Arts

Robin White DNZM is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most celebrated artists. She has produced some of the most renowned images of New Zealand art in the later-half of the 20th century, and as such her work is held in all major collections nationwide. The early focus of her career focused on her iconic New Zealand landscapes and portraits of the 1970s – then, after a fire unexpectedly destroyed her home and studio in 1996, Robin turned toward collaborative art-making; merging principles and methods from western art practices with those of Moana Oceania.

Read more about Dame Robin White

The 2022 Arts Foundation Icon recipients were selected by an independent selection panel, which included 2002 Arts Foundation Laureate Don McGlashan, Arts Foundation Patron Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM CVO QSO DStJ, and Arts Foundation artist trustees Anne Noble and Tanea Heke. Icons are awarded based on the below criteria:

  • Reached or are working at the peak of their careers
  • Been demonstrably dynamic and influential in their field
  • Made a major contribution to the artistic and cultural life of Aotearoa and our understanding of ourselves as New Zealanders
  • Made a major contribution to their own art form – and possibly also to others
  • Produced a significant and distinguished body of work, of outstanding quality and excellence
  • An international standing or reputation (or in the case of an art form unique to Aotearoa, have demonstrated a mastery in their discipline equivalent to world standards)
  • Taken work of Aotearoa to the world and brought the world’s attention back to Aotearoa by demonstrating what is remarkable and special about us – and are therefore representative of this country and its people and our hopes and achievements as a nation

Each Icon receives a bronze medallion set with pounamu and a pin designed by sculptor John Edgar. The recipient keeps the pin, while the medallion passes on to a future Icon at the time of their death.

Previous Icons have included the likes of Billy Apple, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Diggeress Rangituatahi Te Kanawa, Ralph Hotere and Margaret Mahy.

Sir Eion and Lady Jan Edgar are the Founding Patrons of the Icon Awards, following Sir Eion’s retirement as a Trustee of the Foundation in 2010 and their extraordinary $500,000 gift to the Arts Foundation. This is the first year we celebrate Icons since the passing of Sir Eion, who is greatly missed.

Our Icon Award Alumni