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Maori and Pacific artists depart for sweltering Solomon Islands

20 Jun 2012

This content is tagged as Multi-Artform .

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The 120-strong artist delegation heading to the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands, will leave Whenua Pai airbase next week.

The 120-strong artist delegation heading to the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands, will leave Whenua Pai airbase next week.

Made-up of Māori and New Zealand-based Pasifika artists the delegation will represent Aotearoa, in temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius, at what is considered the premier arts and culture event for the Pacific region.

Invitations to the festival were offered to indigenous peoples of the Pacific, and Māori have extended their invitation to New Zealand-based Pacific artists. The Festival of Pacific Arts runs from 1 – 13 July. Te Waka Toi, the Māori Arts Board of Creative New Zealand, is responsible for Aotearoa’s representation for this Government-to-Government invitation.

Te Arikinui King Tūheitia, the Māori King, will lead the delegation as the senior representative of the indigenous people.  Minister of Māori Affairs Hon Dr Pita Sharples will also join the delegation and attend the festival’s opening ceremony, which includes a dawn welcome, a parade of nations and national gift exchange ceremony. Minister Sharples will also speak at New Zealand Night when international guests are invited to enjoy and learn about Aotearoa art, people, food and culture. 

This will be the sixth Festival of Pacific Arts for one of New Zealand’s finest tā moko artists, Associate Professor Derek Lardelli, ONZM.  Three tā moko assistants, each of whom is either a current or recent graduate of Toihoukura School of Māori Visual Arts, Eastern Institute of Technology in Gisborne where Derek is principal tutor, will also be making the trip. They are Kingi Pitiroi (Gisborne/Taupo), Anikaaro Harawira (Gisborne) and Raniera McGrath (Kaitaia).

A range of heritage and contemporary artforms are represented including theatre, weaving, music, literature, visual arts, carving and performing arts including kapa haka and contemporary dance.   Some of the artists are Te Matarae i Orehu (Rotorua), Dianna Fuemana (Auckland), James Webster (Whitianga), Koile (Dunedin), Steve Gwaliasi (Hokitika), Jerome Kavanagh (Taihape), Wendy Whitehead (Napier), Atamira Dance Company (Auckland), Toni Huata (Wellington) and Pacific Underground (Auckland/Christchurch).

The delegation will meet for the first time at Hoani Waititi Marae in Auckland, the day before leaving for Solomon Islands. The Ministry of Defence will transport the group on an RNZAF Boeing 757 on the morning of Monday 25 June, and return them to New Zealand on 14 July.

Creative New Zealand has invested $500,000 to support Aotearoa New Zealand’s presence at the festival and will provide on the ground support staff in collaboration with the New Zealand High Commission.

Aotearoa has been part of the festival since it began in 1972 as the South Pacific Arts Festival. It is a special honour to be a part of this year’s 40th anniversary celebrations.