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Appointments to the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa

Media release: 22 August 2022

Bonita Bigham (Ngaruahine, Te Atiawa) and Whetū Fala (Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Maru ki Taranaki, Sāmoa, Rotuma) have been appointed to the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa (Creative New Zealand’s governing body) by Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Carmel Sepuloni.

“I’m pleased to see these two wāhine toa appointed to the Arts Council. Both Bonita and Whetū hold considerable knowledge of te ao Māori and deep understandings of our sectors, which they will bring to their Council positions,” says Pou Mataaho o Te Aka, Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Sector Performance at Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Emily Fabling.

“It’s also wonderful to see both women representing their respective regions of Manaia and Whanganui and bringing rich insights from these areas to the Board. I look forward to seeing their great contributions to both Creative New Zealand and the wider sector."

Image of Bonita Bigham

Bonita Bigham. Image supplied.

South Taranaki based Bonita brings over 20 years of experience and knowledge to the Council as both a governor and toi Māori practitioner.

Firmly committed to kaupapa Māori, Bonita is involved with various community and local government organisations.

She is a founding member of Toi o Taranaki Ki Te Tonga, a Māori artists’ collective in Taranaki, a Presiding Member for Oranga Marae (formerly Marae Lotteries Heritage Committee), and an iwi representative on committees at both South Taranaki District and Taranaki Regional Councils,

Holding Master’s degrees in both Fine Arts and Māori Visual Arts Bonita is a passionate arts advocate and scholar who centres her research and output on cultural themes and practices, including raranga, tāniko, and kowhaiwhai.

Bonita replaces outgoing member Dean Whiting. Manatū Taonga thanks Dean for his contributions and service to the Council since his appointment in 2017.

Image of Whetu Fala

Whetū Fala. Image supplied.

Whanganui-based Whetū has over 35 years of rich experience in the arts and cultural sector, particularly in Māori performing arts, theatre, film, and television. 

She brings a wealth of governance experience with her current roles including Co-Chair of Ngā Taongā Sound & Vision Film Archives, Board Director for Whakaata Māori, advisor for Internet Aotearoa and trustee with NZ Aotearoa Film Heritage Trust Te Puna Ataata.

Whetū’s executive background includes roles as founder of Fala Media, which specialises in Māori Pasifika content, Executive Director for Ngā Aho Whakaari NZ Māori Screen Guild, Short Film Manager at the New Zealand Film Commission and Station Manager of Awa FM Te Reo Irirangi Māori o Whanganui. 

Whetū fills the vacant position on the Council.

Updated on 5th September 2022