Maori artists head to Guam

By Mikaela Collins

Amorangi Hikuroa and Dorothy Waetford will be heading to Guam to share their artwork with other indigenous artists at the Festival of Pacific Arts. Photo / John Stone
Amorangi Hikuroa and Dorothy Waetford will be heading to Guam to share their artwork with other indigenous artists at the Festival of Pacific Arts. Photo / John Stone

It will be two weeks of indigenous artists sharing their work when two Northland clay artists travel to Guam, in the Western Pacific, for the Festival of Pacific Arts.

Dorothy Waetford and Amorangi Hikuroa are two of six artists from the Maori clay artist collective Nga Kaihanga Uku who will be travelling to Guam tomorrow to attend the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts.

The festival, which has been held every four years since 1972, brings together artists and cultural practitioners from around the Pacific for two weeks.

It is not the pair's first time attending the festival. They went in 2012 when it was held in the Solomon Islands.

Ms Waetford said the festival provided artists from around the Pacific the chance to share their art.

"What we hope when we get there is to workshop with other ceramic artists," Ms Waetford said.

"The way we work is we share what we know about our history and culture. What has happened in the past is that people have ended up collaborating with each other." "I enjoy seeing the other cultures and people and places," Mr Hikuroa added.

There are about 100 artists travelling to Guam from New Zealand.

The trip is particularly special for Nga Kaihanga Uku. The late Colleen Urlich, an influential Maori clay artist from Dargaville, applied to Creative New Zealand to fund the trip.

Mrs Urlich was supposed to attend the festival with the group but she died in September - only a week after the Maori arts world lost fellow Northland clay artist Manos Nathan.

"It's hard. It's hard to talk about it but it's okay. It's very weighty because their responsibilities have been passed on to us," said Mr Hikuroa.

"Colleen and Manos will always be with us, they'll still be there in some way," said Ms Waetford.

Mr Hikuroa said Maori clay art was a relatively new art form in New Zealand.

"Well next year it's our (Nga Kaihanga Uku) 30th birthday.

"If you look at the beginning of carving and weaving, we're probably the youngest tradition."

- Northern Advocate

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