MEMBER OF THE NEW ZEALAND ORDER OF MERIT (MNZM)
contemporary Pacific painter and one of the few rock art
specialists in New Zealand has become a Member of the New
Zealand Order of Merit.
Johnny Penisula moved to New Zealand from Samoa in 1962 and
set up home in Invercargill.
He began painting when he was 13 and had been exhibiting
since the early 1970s as the first contemporary Pacific
artist to exhibit in New Zealand.
As a sculptor he experimented with a range of different
materials, including steel and fibreglass before turning to
his preferred medium of stone.
"I enjoy working with rocks," he said.
His work is held in public and private collections, both in
New Zealand and internationally, with inspiration coming from
"I enjoy doing the best I can for the people."Mr Penisula has
won many awards, including a Creative New Zealand Senior
Pacific Arts award in 2002.
He was also the artist in residence and the Creative New
Zealand Pacific Artist in residence at the University of
Canterbury in 2008.
Through his awards he has been given the opportunity to
travel, including to Asia and Rarotonga.
He enjoyed being able to see what different countries were
doing in terms of art.
Speaking of his most recent honour, he described it as a
"I'm humbled about the whole thing. It's something I've never
expected throughout my career.
"I'm really pleased people appreciate what I'm doing."