National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries

Celebrate success

The scholarship, research, creative and practice-based achievements of NICAI staff, alumni and students are regularly recognised in awards, promotions, accolades and grants earned both in New Zealand and around the world. NICAI acknowledges the ongoing commitment of its staff and students to excel across the disciplines and celebrates their successes in the local, national and international arena. Congratulations to you all.

Top prize in international competition won by Architecture graduates

March 2014

Architecture graduates from the University of Auckland have taken the first rize for an international architecture competition hosted by BlankSpace, with an impressive  lineup of architectural judges including Paula Scher, Nigel Coates and Will Alsop, among others.

The winning team members are Kevin PH Wang and Nicholas O'Leary, both of whom graduated in 2008. The collaboration took place at the end of l2013 while based in Oxford (UK), and Bergen (Norway) respectively.

The competition brief for "Fairy Tales" asked for an investigation into the relationship between stories and architecture, allowing the participants to submit a text narrative  of up to 1500 words and 5 image panels.

The results have been circulated in several architectural and design online publications including:
Fast Company: CoDesign

World Architecture


Architecture alumni and staff win at NZ Wood Timber Design Awards

March 2014

At the New Zealand Wood Timber Design Awards in Wellington this month, Melanie Pau's Onehunga Primary School Entrance thesis project was a finalist in the Outdoor Infrastructure category, and took out a Highly Commended award. Farah Saad, who completed her thesis last year, was a finalist in the Indigenous Timber Showcase category – she didn't place, but the category was won by Mike O'Sullivan, one of our regular studio and thesis teachers. Cheshire Architects, currently co-teaching a studio course with Chris Barton, also won a category – Interior Innovation.

Read more about the Timber Design Awards


Dean Sutcliffe appointed to the American Musicological Society

Assoc Prof Dean Sutcliffe

February 2014


School of Music Associate Professor Dean Sutcliffe has recently been appointed a director of the prestigious American Musicological Society. Over the past fifty years or more, some of the world's most distinguished and influential music scholars have served in this capacity and Dean's admission to their ranks is testament to his high international standing in the discipline. Previous accolades include the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Society, which Dean was awarded in 2009.


School of Music Head appointed Musicological Director of the Pleyel Gesamtausgabe

Assoc Prof Allan Badley

February 2014


Associate Professor Allan Badley, Head of the School of Music, has been appointed Musicological Director of the Austrian-based Pleyel Gesamtausgabe (translation: edition of the complete works of Pleyel).


Heading an international team of scholars from Austria, Germany and the United States, Allan is overseeing the preparation of the first ever critical edition of Pleyel's complete works. In 2007 he was awarded the Goldene Pleyel-Medaille of the Internationale Ignaz Joseph Pleyel Gesellschaft.


Music senior lecturer wins prestigious AAANZ award

March 2014

Allan Smith has won "Best Scholarly Article in AAANZ Journal" in the annual Art Association of Australia and New Zealand book/catalogue awards. The article, entitled "Entropic Steps: Rocks, Ruins and Increase in John Ruskin, Robert Smithson, and Per Kirkeby", was chosen from a numerous array of essays by judges Dr Edward Colless and Dr Toni Ross, who said:

"This is an exhilarating piece of writing, full of conceptual surprises and stylistic élan. Competing as a peer with its protagonist Ruskin in descriptive power, the essay surges ahead in torrential poetic amalgamation of mineralogical and meteorological morphologies. The analogies between Ruskin, Smithson and Kirkeby appear in the essay like electrical arcs or solar flares, and thus may appear shocking, yet they are equally intriguing, encompassing and convincing. The method and style of the essay departs from typical art historical modes of exposition, yet is conceptually sure-footed and eloquent. We also appreciated an approach to late modern and contemporary art that activated the return of aesthetic perspectives that might be considered anachronistic or untimely."


Elam graduate receives Pacific Youth Award for Creativity

Aaron Unasa

December 2013

Aaron Unasa, who graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts this year, has received the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award for his work promoting the importance of arts in the Pacific community.

The 22-year-old, who dreams of working in the film industry, has been awarded a year's paid internship at the award-winning Weta Workshop in Wellington.

"It's like making the All Blacks, it's huge. I know how tough it is to get into Weta Workshop, so I'm just over the moon about it," Mr Unasa said.

Aaron, who is of Samoan and Cook Island Māori heritage, works with arts collective The Roots, which aims to inspire and empower younger generations through arts-based community initiatives. His recent work includes mentoring Auckland high school and primary age students in arts projects.

"I think it's important, especially for the Pacific community, because there are not a lot of people out there really promoting it," he said.

APRA Siver Scroll Awards a "gargantuan task" for Popular Music lecturer

Godfrey de Grut

October 2013

Popular Music lecturer Godfrey De Grut was appointed Musical Director of the 48th annual APRA Silver Scroll awards this year, on the tenth anniversary of being awarded the Silver Scroll himself, along with Che Fu in 2002.

The gargantuan task involved writing, arranging for and coordinating ten separate acts including choir, big-band, rock band, accordions, a harp and our very own University percussion ensemble. The songs performed included Silver Scroll nominees, Hall of Fame performances for Dave Dobbyn, a big-band medley of the last ten years of Scroll winners, Maioha and Soundz Contemporary and a surprise choral performance of the “Sisters Underground” hit “In the Neighbourhood”, which is now 20 years old.

Godfrey has been teaching in the Popular Music degree for six years and is currently acting Course Coordinator. He invited a number of current and former students to be involved in the Awards, as well as current and former staff. Of particular significance to Godfrey was his involvement in the Maioha award winning song “Ruaimoko”, in which he personally performed piano while co-winner and former music alumni Mahuia Bridgeman-Cooper received his award.

“In hindsight my decisions and facility as MD were directly informed by my time spent (studying at the University), and teachers like Eve DeCastro-Robinson, John Elmsly, Karen Grylls and Fiona McAlpine really opened my ears to the world of thoughtful and considered music practice.”


Chance of a lifetime for Chamber Choir

October 2013

The University of Auckland Chamber Choir has contributed to a new studio album by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa entitled Waiata.

Dame Kiri, who turns 70 next year, recorded the collection of Maori songs, to mark her acclaimed 50-year musical career. The album also features arranger and conductor Carl Doy and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

The University of Auckland Chamber Choir comprises 30 University of Auckland students and graduates and was formed in 2006. Directed by Associate Professor Karen Grylls and Professional Teaching Fellow Robert Wiremu, from the School of Music, the choir has an outstanding reputation and frequently tours internationally.

"It was indeed an honour for the University of Auckland Chamber Choir to be asked to sing for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's new disc, Waiata; an invitation which emerged from Robert Wiremu's long-time association with Dame Kiri and Carl Doy,” says Associate Professor Karen Grylls.

“The versatile sound required for this disc, a mix of a traditional Western choral sound with a more authentic one, took us all on an exciting journey. For some of the singers, it was recalling familiar songs; for many it was singing songs that were new. There were nights of recording the vocal tracks with earphones and retakes, and then the filming of the choir with Dame Kiri for the promotional material. It was the chance of a lifetime!" she says.

Waiata, which will be released on November 15, is a follow on from Maori Songs recorded in 1998, and is billed to be a classic.
View electronic press release


School of Music ensemble takes coveted chamber music prize

October 2013

The Auckland Chamber Music Society Prize 2013 was awarded to Counterstreich Quintet, featuring Samantha Dench (flute), Annabel Lovatt (oboe), Kenny Keppel (clarinet), Sasha Rasmussen (bassoon) and Lilla Dittrich (horn) for their winning piece Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet by Gyorgy Ligeti. The quintet were presented a cheque of $4,000 by the Auckland Chamber Music Society.


Success at the Bentley Awards

October 2013

A new entrance structure for Onehunga Primary School, created as part of a Master of Architecture (Professional) thesis by Melanie Pau with assistance from Yusef Patel and Stefan Panovski, has received a 2013 Bentley Student Design Award. This is the first time this prestigious global award has gone to a project from New Zealand.

Melanie’s project focuses on the promotion of healthy and sustainable eating. The Onehunga Primary has Green-Gold Enviro-Schools status, and the new entrance projects this strong sustainability focus to the community, as well as creating a dynamic street-front presence. The structure incorporates edible plants and information displays, with the idea that children, waiting parents and even passers-by can learn about growing food.

Produced under the supervision of Professor Andrew Barrie and John Chapman, Melanie’s design was conceived as an open-source construction system freely available to any individual or community that wishes to establish a programme related to growing food and teaching others to do the same. The structure was built mostly with volunteer labour, including parents and a team of fourth-year Architecture students completing a Timber Technology course. The modular system consists of 50 ply members cut on the University’s high-tech milling machines, which slot easily together, meaning the assembly was simple and the community could be involved in the construction. It took over a month to cut and prepare all the plywood elements, but only 12 hours to assemble the whole structure!

The project was supported by Carter Holt Harvey, Nuralite, and New Zealand Wood. A second stage of the project – two shelters where parents and children can wait – will be completed this year by Masters students Yusef Patel and Sam Wood.


Young scholar shines in piano competition

Sylvia Jiang

August 2013

Congratulations to Sylvia Jiang who was a finalist in the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition and played a full concerto with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra held in the Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland on Saturday 24th August. Sylvia was placed fourth and received Best Performance of a Work by Chopin and Best Performance of a Work by Liszt. Sylvia is still at high school but is currently studying a University of Auckland paper in classical piano, through our Young Scholars Programme. She will be entering the Bachelor of Music majoring in Classical Performance upon completion of her secondary school studies.

Sylvia was also placed second in the Wallace National Piano Competition held in July at the Auckland Town Hall.