Junior art awards announced

Winners of the Acorn Foundation Junior Art Awards 2021. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford

The winners of the inaugural Acorn Foundation Junior Art Awards have been announced at a function at Tauranga Art Gallery.

More than 200 entries came in from Bay of Plenty children aged between four to 14 years of age, for the awards which this year celebrate the theme ‘Te Taiao: Nature’.

“With the wonderful support of the Acorn Foundation, our vision is to create an exceptional art experience for young creative minds, whilst engaging and inspiring our local community,” says Tauranga Art Gallery director Stephen Cleland.

The competition was judged by Tauranga artist Emma Prill, who won the Miles Art Award 2014: People's Choice Award and was a finalist in the 2016 Miles Art Award and 2017 Molly Morpeth Art Awards.

Jenny Riley, Tauranga Art Gallery director Stephen Cleland, judge Emma Prill and Maya Stone at the awards evening. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

“I was looking for the processes used, how they interpreted the theme in a new and exciting way, but also how it directly related back to the theme of nature,” says Emma.

“Nature has a personal significance as we are surrounded by beautiful nature in New Zealand, but also globally we are becoming more aware of the significance of nature and the preservation of it.”

Two winners were announced for each of the age categories.

The four to five year old age category was won by William March, 5, for ‘The Sky of Helicopters and Birds’  and Olivia Gillham, 5, for ‘Pohutukawa at Sunset’.

The six to eight year old age category was won by Jacinta Rebagliati, 7, for ‘Fire Forest’ and Seoyeon Choi, 8, for ‘Hide-and-seek at Te Puna Quarry Park’.

The nine to eleven year old age category was won by Sonja Copeland, 9, for ‘The Tree of Life’, and Greer Bennett, 11, for ‘Poisonous Berries’.

The 12 – 14 year old age category was won by Abby King, 14, for ‘Bus Stop,’ and Alex Pengelly, 13, for ‘Nature’s Koha’.

Additionally Lily Smith, 13, won the Friends of Tauranga Art Gallery Award for her work ‘Papatuanuku’. The Tauranga City Council Award also known as The Mayor’s Award was won by Isaac Moore, 13, for his work ‘The Tree of Life’, and Kobe Jennings, age 5, received the Innovative Use of Art Materials award for his artwork ‘Insect and Bird House’.

Kobe Jennings, 5, winner of the ‘Innovative Use of Art Materials’ award with his ‘Insect and Bird House’.  Photo: John Borren.

Kobe created his artwork from recycled cardboard, dried leaves, flowers, sticks, shells, bark, pinecones, seed pods and felt tipped pen. His older sister Savannah, age 6, also used recycled cardboard, dried flowers, leaves and stick from their garden, and paint to create ‘A Sunny Summer’s Day’.

“We learned about the awards from reading the story in The Weekend Sun newspaper,” says Kobe Jennings’ mother Annie Jennings.

The newspaper itself features in one of the pieces, ‘I’m Not Afraid of Sharks!’ by Phoebe Smith, age 6, is made of paint, glitter, glue, plastic eyes and a page from The Weekend Sun newspaper.

The ‘People’s Choice Award’ category closes on May 2, with votes being taken at Tauranga Art Gallery. All winners receive a certificate and prize of $100.

All of the art works are on display in the Tauranga Art Gallery until May 2 and online at

Heidi Rickard age 11, from Tauranga Intermediate with her entry ‘Sand n Surf’. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Savannah Jennings, 6, from St Mary’s school in front of her artwork ‘A Sunny Summer’s Day’. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

‘I’m Not Afraid of Sharks!’ by Phoebe Smith, age 6, is made of paint, glitter, glue, plastic eyes and The Weekend Sun newspaper.

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