Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne yesterday announced next year's university arts fellowships, including the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship to Christchurch painter and sculptor Zina Swanson, and the Mozart Fellowship to Auckland composer Samuel Holloway.
The Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance goes to Dunedin performer and choreographer Hahna Briggs.
Auckland writer Leonie Agnew will become the University of Otago College of Education Creative NZ Children's Writer in Residence.
Mr Howard was "astonished and honoured" to gain the Robert Burns Fellowship.
The fellowship was his "exact and exacting contemporary", given he had been born in 1959, "when the inaugural fellow, Ian Cross, was at his desk", he said.
Mr Howard's major publication is The Incomplete Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2011). He is a winner of the Gordon and Gotch Poetry Award, the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition, and the NZSA Mid-Career Writers Award.
Otago arts fellows receive a stipend for six months to one year and space on campus to indulge in their creative projects.
Frances Hodgkins Fellow Zina Swanson is "incredibly excited" about "such a generous award".
Having lost her studio in Central Christchurch in one of the city's earthquakes, she had been working from home and the fellowship will allow her to work full-time on her art.
A graduate of the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, she has exhibited throughout the country.
Mozart Fellow Samuel Holloway is pleased to be able to focus more consistently on his creative research.
He has won several national and international awards, including first prize in the Asian Composers League Young Composer Competition in 2007.
Some of his work has been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow Hahna Briggs has an Otago masters degree in dance studies and has danced in performances by two previous Caroline Plummer Fellows - Suzanne Cowan's House of Memories (2010), and Lyne Pringle's Ocean Wave (2011).
The Plummer fellowship emphasised connections between dance and community and was a reminder that dance was "something all people can actively engage in", she said.
University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence Leonie Agnew was "extremely pleased" to gain the residency, and the freedom to write when she wanted.
In the recent New Zealand Post Book Awards, she won the Best New Book and the Children's Choice awards for the Junior Fiction Section for her book Super Finn, which also won the Tom Fitzgibbon Award.