Derek Lardelli - Laureate

"Lardelli, 42, told the foundation he saw the award as giving recognition to a beautiful artform that encompassed the genealogies, histories and lifeblood of his people. "I see my work as not being so much that of an individual but more the artistic expression of the work of our tipuna [ancestors] and our iwi [people]."

It was more than just an image etched on skin, he said.

"What informs it, what makes it exciting, is that genealogical pool from which it came."

The Gisborne region had always been strong in the arts, he said.

"The renaissance of our culture is very strong at the moment and that means Maori arts here and all around the country are flourishing."

This was especially evident in ta moko, with an explosion in the number of practitioners and quality of work in recent years.

Lardelli said both young and established artists in New Zealand needed support.

"The foundation can really make an impact on an artist's life by giving them the means to buy what they need the most - time."

NZ Herald, Friday Nov 12, 2004