Southern honours-John Reuelu Penisula

Johnny Penisula
Johnny Penisula
MEMBER OF THE NEW ZEALAND ORDER OF MERIT (MNZM)A 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 his heritage.

"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 "blessing".

"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."