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Once again the Festival Trust will be looking forwards to announcing details for the annual Youth Photo Award, after 5 years of good things for the participating artist each year, we cant wait to share our news in April.

To date over $6600 has been Awarded to support Youth photography in NZ through this Award since 2019.

Youth Photo Award 2023

In 2023 the Alex Mao Youth Photo Award took place, we invited photographers/artists (under 25 years) to enter their best work.

We are delighted to announce the winners of this year's cash Awards.

Shortlisting was done by the Festival team and external selection of the Alex Mao Foundation, who said of teenager Latamai's winning portrait - "This is one of his entries from a series which shows consistent ability to use ambient light for his portraits and he has captured his winning image of his teenage sister outside their house, showing a rebellious staunch young woman, who's clear engagement with her eyes looking direct at the viewer, creating a question to the viewer too. It is a series that is a worthy 1st place selection, using available light, focus and shadows to good effect" He wins $1200NZD cash grant with the trophy. Latamai is a student based in the North Shore said "it was only earlier this year I had turned to photography as my chosen medium after completing the Air NZ/National Geographic summer photo clubs for youth photographers in New Zealand". He is a first time entrant to the Youth Photo Award.

Latamai Katoa

1st place - Latamai Katoa - A different way of living


Aotea Taylor
2nd place - Aotea Taylor - Last Light


This is one of her series of portraits of horses in rural New Zealand, good use of light, framing and colour. $600NZD cash grant with certificate. 

"I received an old camera by a friend last month having no experience with DSLR, so I am very delighted to be chosen!" says Waikato based photographer and horse breeder, Aotea. "When I photograph, It makes me feel as if I am immortalising that moment. That for the horses that are in my care, at one time, they existed here and stood upon this land. I would like for their memory to live on, long when they leave me."

Highly commended entries -

Shafeek Allie - Orange Butterfly
Johnny de Silva - Shea 2023, I can say I love you
Minxi Sun - Untitled, Portrait of girl
Abby Cullinan - Mushrooms and The Shag
Sophie Hanson - Tangled
Paris Munro - Untitled Interior room
Riko Fernandez - Homesick

View 2023 entries

Supported by the Alex Mao Foundation, presented by Image Auckland [tāmaki makaurau] 

To date over $6600 has been Awarded to support Youth photography in NZ through this Award since 2019.

Youth Photo Award 2022

In 2022 the Youth Photo Award took place, we invited photographers/artists (under 25 years) to enter their best work.

We're delighted to announce the 4th annual Youth Photo Award winner of the 2022 Alex Mao Prize, is Sophie Hansen, with her gritty portrait of her Dad's working hands welding a new object in his shed titled Create Something New. "My poppa asked me to take a photo of him welding but I'm not much of a people photographer at all, I prefer animals, so when he asked me this I enterprited it as me taking a photo of the sparks flying and the machine. It wasnt until later when I showed him this photo that he said "did you get any of me?" and I suddenly realised I was supposed to be taking photos with him in it!"

Congratulations to Sophie who wins NZ$1200 cash. Plus a print of her winning photo.

Sophie H

2nd prize winner, Kellie Masiutama, who wins a framed print, of her winning image He Taonga tuku iho, which she created to be part her exhibition in the Festival this year, but it didnt make it in, the show is open at Papakura Art Gallery until 25 June. Kellie stated "The hands with the pounamu is represented as myself being cleansed in my waters. The stunning Wahine represents myself in present time not fully healed. But content."

Kellie M

This year's entries were from around New Zealand, with a variety of subjects and skills, we thank everyone who took part, see all entries here. Our judge was Linda Tyler, Associate Professor, University of Auckland, and currently teaches art writing and curatorial practice at Honours level in the Art History Department.

To date over $4800 in prize money has been Awarded to support Youth photography in NZ through this Award. 

Presented by Image Auckland [tāmaki makaurau]

Youth Photo Award

Alex Mao Youth Award 2021

Congratulations to Francis Cai, winner of the 3rd Alex Mao Youth award, an award for emerging photographers under the age of 25. He wins a $1200 cash prize. Francis’s image is called Moving Out.  He says: I remember that not long ago, I was living with my cousin Untaka in Mount Roskill, he was always busy preparing me a delicious dinner. The day we cleaned up the house together and departed for our own future is still in sight. 

Moving Out was chosen by judge Sanji Karu from over 200 entries as the winning image. Sanji, who is a photographer and Director of Skar Image Lab, a Fine Art Print Studio, said: I would love to print this and have it on my wall. It has good composition and the light is beautiful. The negative space is well balanced with the object in focus. It is a minimalist image but it speaks volumes of the change we have gone through in recent times, leaving one path behind and moving forward along another. 

Francis Cai

Alex Mao Youth Award 2020

Matt Hurley won the 2020 Alex Mao Youth Award, a new photography prize for emerging photographers with his image 'Sunday Treat'. Congratulations Matt. He wins a $1200 cash prize.

Judge Raymond Sagapolutele, said "The image that I chose, Matt Hurley's summer ice cream has so much going for it. It is a portrait but not just of a person but that moment in time and characterised in the melting mess that anyone will recognise and engage with, it's the face of Summer. I may be sentimental in my appreciation of the image but there is so much that this engages with, the sense of a moment in time and recalled memory and with the use of shallow depth of field the hazy feeling that pulls the viewer into the details of what's on offer. The ice cream itself is a caricature of a face melting and smiling and running down the arm of the person we don't know just out of frame."

Matt Hurley; Sunday Treat

Alex Mao Youth Award 2019

Congratulations to our inaugural Award recipient Amie Kaufman from West Auckland, for her sterling image 'Trying to Grow Up', this image won the 2019 award. She wins a $1200 cash prize.

 Amie Kaufman; Trying To Grow Up

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