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National Contemporary Art Award

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Detail from 2010 finalist 'Cultivation Of A Pearl Is A Twinkle In My Eye' by Kelly Pretty (left) and 2005 finalist 'Palagi' by Megan Knarhoi-Hansen (right).

The National Contemporary Art Award can be described as brave, colourful and never shy, an award which takes on an exciting genre – contemporary art. Contemporary art is simply described as art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetimes. In other words, contemporary to us. Or more simply, the art of now. We are very privileged to host this well-known art award here at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga O Waikato.

Key members of the Waikato Society of Arts initiated what we now know as the National Contemporary Art Award in 2000. Gavin Hipkins won the inaugural Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award and received $10,000 for his photo of a soap dish. 

Every year a new judge is chosen with the credibility to choose the finalists and the ultimate winner. Through elimination, it is the judge who curates the award, shaping the final exhibition as well as choosing a winner, runner up, and merit award winners.

2021 National Contemporary Art Award

Read more about the 2021 National Contemporary Art Award which was exhibited at Waikato Museum from 18 September to 28 November 2021.

Past Winners - a History

National Contemporary Art Award past winners and judges

Past Awards

Please note: The award was not held in 2020 due to disruption caused by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.