Gisborne's inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival launches in October
Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival Gisborne
October 4 – 20
Joining the list of regional arts festivals, this October sees the inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival in Gisborne
This will be city’s new flagship contemporary arts and cultural event delivering performance events by hundreds of performers from across New Zealand and the Pacific.
The inaugural Festival Director Tama Waipara says, “Anchored in Tūranga-nui-ā-Kiwa/Gisborne, our festival celebrates our whakapapa connections right around the coast, from Raukokore to Rangitukia, and Manutuke to Muriwai. This Festival will centre itself in the heart of the East Cape but stretch its arms far and wide; globally acclaimed, proudly local and unashamedly accessible.”
“We will celebrate the first stories of our whenua, and our whakapapa connections across the Pacific. We want people to know who we are and where we come from. We want to champion the stories and voices of our place amidst the most glorious backdrop of our home, Te Tairāwhiti.”
“Māui Pūtahi” will be the festivals opening event, created by local director and artist, Teina Moetara - part performance, part ceremony, part interactive experience telling the stories of the creation of the land and people of the area.
The opening weekend also features “Up, Up and Away! Manu Aute Kite Day” – a free event at Gisborne’s Soundshell with a line-up of local and global talent and musical performances including Anika Moa performing some of her famous Songs for Bubbas, and the the arrival of the waka flotilla.
Dave Dobbyn, Anika Moa, Annie Crummer, Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha,Teeks and some of New Zealand’s most iconic musicians will perform at “Under An East Coast Moon” with a special guest appearance from contemporary Hawaiian musician Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole.
A new production of Samoan / New Zealander Tusiata Avia’s powerful poetry collection “Wild Dogs Under My Skirt” will headline the Pacific work with the sometimes painful intersection of New Zealand and Samoan cultures in her life. This popular play performed by an all-female cast of six Pasifika actors under the direction of Anapela Polata’ivao.
The Festival will present the world premiere of “Henare” by playwright Hōhepa Waitoa and producer Hone Kouka. It is a story inspired by Henare Waitoa who was one of Ngati Porou's most prolific composers. “Tomo Mai” was his most well-known song, composed to welcome the 28th Battalion home from the war.
Following a sell-out premiere season in the 2018 Auckland Arts Festival in partnership with Silo Theatre, “Cellfish” will make its Tairāwhiti debut starring Jason Te Kare and Carrie Green.
Writing about the play last year I said about the original performance “Inspired by the Shakespeare in prisons projects, Cellfish takes us inside the prison world, the heads of the tutors and the inmates they work with to explore ideas about crime, guilt, recidivism and redemption".
"The script flows brilliantly, combining ordinary speech, te reo, clipped street/prison patois and Shakespeare. Much of the focus of the play is on violence, in the home, in the wider community and in mythology. It is about the social problem of violence and how its effects on perpetrators and victims, as one of the female characters says, “Why do men hurt women?”
"While there is much emphasis on the way in which learning the language of Shakespeare and learning about the characters can help in restoring dignity and mana to individuals, the play also shows how the language of Shakespeare can be used to negotiate ways of trying to understand the meanings and intentions of the bard’s language".
"At the core of these interchanges though is the need to communicate. As soon as emotions and memories are articulated and spoken about, there can be the process of change, acceptance of responsibilities and renewal.” There will be the world premiere of “Witi’s Wāhine”, written by Nancy Brunning and based on excerpts from Witi Ihimaera stories, including Parihaka Woman, Medicine Woman and Waituhi. Mere Boynton, Roimata Fox, Ani-Piki Tuari and Ngapaki Moetara will present some formidable and inspirational wāhine Māori characters.
Other theatre includes Trick of the Light Theatre’s "The Bookbinder" is a story of mystery, magic and mayhem, blending puppetry, shadow play, paper craft, storytelling and live action to tell the tale of a bookbinding apprentice and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” is a new New Zealand play about a young Māori boy’s relationship with rhymes and the whole “being Māori” thing
“Meremere” performed by critically acclaimed dancer, Rodney Bell merges spoken word, music, dance and multimedia design to tell Rodney’s story – from a childhood spent on the pā under the eaves of the Te Tokanga-nui-a-noho, to scaling the heights of an artistic career and living rough on the streets of San Francisco.
“Meremere” explores the human response to the ebbs and flows of fortune, the transformative journey to inner strength and peace, and the immutable call of home.
Tupua Tigafua who has danced with some of Aotearoa's creative elite, including New Zealand Dance Company, Black Grace and MAU, has now created an intriguing and visually complex dance show, “Shel We?”, inspired by the works of renowned American writer Shel Silverstein.
Annie Crummer, Bella Kalolo, Ria Hall and Jackie Clarke will pay tribute to Aretha Franklin in their concert “Respect!” And Reb Fountain whose album, “Hopeful and Hopeless”, won the Tui for Best Country Album/Artist in 2018 and also the APRA Best Country Song will be performing at The Dome.
In “Ka Hao: Tira Waiata” twenty-four talented rangatahi from Tairāwhiti whānui will juxtapose waiata with some of the region’s most sacred spaces taking festival-goers into magically remote pockets of the region, including Tokotoru Tapu Church, Holy Trinity Church, St Mary’s Church and Christ Church, Raukokore.
Included in the visual arts programme will be “Te Ara i Whiti”, an installation of light sculptures and artwork while Manawa Moana, an installation in the War Memorial Theatre will presents a supersized manifestation of global consciousness about the proliferation of plastic in the ocean and in everyday life.
KE Design, in partnership with Tairāwhiti Museum, will present “NATIVE VOICES: Ko au, ko mātau - I am, we are” - an art exhibition which reinforces an indigenous legacy and challenges the impact of a nation’s ‘dual heritage’ on our Māori future.
“Te Māpouriki” features German-Japanese maestro Jun Märkl conducting the premiere of NZ composer Kenneth Young’s new work of the same title alongside a selection of popular classics, such as Mozart’s vigorous Paris Symphony , Richard Strauss’ first horn concerto, Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage (Op.27), and Robert Schumann’s first symphony – Spring.
For “Taonga Moana” the national chamber choir of Aotearoa, Voices New Zealand, will join forces with Kiwi composer Warren Maxwell, eclectic Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, and multimedia artists Tim and Mic Gruchy for a spectacular choral celebration of oceans and reminder of our duty of care as kaitiaki.
“A Synthesized Universe” by Anthonie Tonnon is a 360-degree, multi-sensory experience in which audiences go on an interstellar journey through the known universe. Alongside custom animations by Andrew Charlton, critically acclaimed musician and producer the work explores the vastness of the cosmos through surreal storytelling and live music performed on a 1968 electric guitar and Wellington-designed synthesizer-sampler
Curated by Mere Boynton in partnership with Tairāwhiti Museum, “Music for Intimate Spaces” is a situational musical installation. Audiences will move through the spaces - C Company Memorial House, Wyllie Cottage and the SS Star of Canada to the sounds and music of place and time.
In “Tukutuku”, students with and without disabilities from Gisborne Girls’ High School will collaborate to create a programme of original works that meld live music and dance, under the leadership of a team from the inclusive Jolt Dance Company and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
“Vai” is an intuitive installation of femmage exploring the spirit and visual characteristics of water, created by Lina Marsh and taking place free-of-charge at Lawson Field
Theatre. Director and actor, Anapela Polata’ivao will direct a cast of Gisborne locals in a rehearsed reading of “Barbecue” by Robert O’Hara - a cruelly funny comedy about the dysfunctional O'Mallery family who come together over a barbie to stage an intervention.
“Show Me Shorts” New Zealand's leading international short film festival has become a popular addition to the Gisborne arts calendar. This programme will include some of the best new short films from New Zealand and around the world, featuring a diverse collection of cultures and voices. .