Porirua-born sculptor Michael Parekowhai has been selected to represent New Zealand at the 2011 Venice Biennale. Parekowhai, 42, received the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award in 2001 and works as an associate professor at Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts. His sculptures are often made from found objects — previous works have involved a Volkswagen van and a grand piano — which he alters to comic effect. The National Business Review has declared Parekowhai’s choice as “the most appropriate [decision] that has been made in recent years.” Parekowhai is of Nga Ariki, Ngati Whakarongo and European descent. Last year, New Zealand’s exhibition, which drew 114,000 visitors, featured the work of Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard.