Mystery teen artist found – with help from social media

8 March 2012

Twitter and Facebook users have helped solve the mystery surrounding a nationwide teenage art competition which challenged secondary students to share their creative and artistic works.

Earlier this week judges announced two out of the three winners of New Zealand Post’s ‘Creative Break’ contest – which is part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival. Those winners were selected from more than 500 works which were entered via a dedicated Facebook page.

The third winner was, at that time, known only as ‘Coal’ because attempts to contact the young artist had proved unsuccessful. New Zealand Post’s head of sponsorship, Nicola Airey, noted that Coal was in danger of missing out on their prize – flights and accommodation to attend part of the International Arts Festival, plus tickets to selected events including a special function honouring the winners.

But as soon as the mystery surrounding Coal’s real identity became public the Twitter and Facebook communities kicked into action to help track down the teen.

“We know for a fact that within hours of announcing the first two named winners social media users were putting out feelers around the Island nation of Niue – trying to identify who Coal was. Social media users had very quickly picked up on one of the few clues we had about Coal’s identity – which was that they may have ties to Niue,” Nicola Airey says.

Within a day the mystery was solved – and “Coal” stepped forward – in the form of Auckland 15 year old Claudia Kanivatoa – who more commonly simplifies her name to Claudia Kavi.

A Year 11 student at Otahuhu College, Claudia was chosen as a Creative Break winner for a tapas cloth she had painted for a family reunion.


Pictured: Claudia Kavi with her winning creation


The tapas cloth prominently features a portrait of Claudia’s grandfather – a Samoan who lived his entire life in Niue – and incorporates themes from Claudia’s strong Niuean heritage, combined with Samoan design aspects in honour of her grandfather.

Given Claudia’s amazing talent, it’s not surprising that she gets frequent requests to create banners for events and special occasions. Her family shares Claudia’s enthusiasm for the creative arts, and are rightfully proud of her talent and ability.

The other two Creative Break winners announced this week were 17 year old Elliot Gonzales, a Year 13 student at Freyberg High School in Palmerston North, and 17 year old Indi Force, a Year 13 student at ACG Senior College in Auckland.

The three winners will travel to Wellington tomorrow (Friday) to begin enjoying their prize, courtesy of New Zealand Post.