Que Bidois loves his hometown - no doubt about that - but he is concerned that what makes Tauranga so special is being lost, that we're turning into a place where money has more value than anything else.

"It's so easy for the city to consume our culture," he says.

"We're losing not only the places that matter but the knowledge that they hold.

"The harbour's pipi have been a huge food source for generations but are disappearing through dredging. The 'price' of having bigger ships come is losing something that's lived here for eternity. The things that make us special are our resources, not the big ships."


Born and raised at Arataki and often staying with his grandparents at Te Puna, the 37-year-old is affiliated to Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Ranginui and has recently become chairman of Waikari Marae at Matapihi.

Que was working as a bilingual teacher at Mount Maunganui Intermediate when he was shoulder-tapped to bring a Maori worldview to classes in creative thought at Toi Ohomai.

As well as classroom work, he takes groups of polytech students to places such as Mauao and The Elms and shares his knowledge of Tauranga Moana.

"I based my master's thesis on a waiata that I turned into an artwork. The thesis was about learning our history so it's not lost."

Que is looking forward to offering Tauranga Arts Festival his views as part of a group which will each speak for seven minutes on what it means to be a New Zealander.

Other speakers are Bangladesh-born economist Shamubeel Eaqub, novelist Paula Morris who has an English mother and through her father is a member of Ngati Wai and Ngati Whatua and who has lived in England and the US, historian Vincent O'Malley, actor and writer Helene Wong who made her visit to China in the 1980s, and former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons who has lived in Switzerland, Wellington and Auckland and co-owns a Coromandel farm with a family of Israeli migrants.

Our Place to Stand, Saturday, October 28, 11.30am in Carrus Crystal Palace on the Tauranga waterfront. Tickets or Writer programme day passes from Baycourt box office or Ticketek with TECT cardholder discounts available until October 6 (Baycourt only).

TIME RUNNING OUT Time is running out to take advantage of TECT earlybird discounts to Tauranga Arts Festival shows. October 6 is the last day for TECT cardholders buying tickets at the Baycourt Theatre box office to receive a 20 per cent discount on the first two tickets to most shows - for a writers' day pass a saving of $12. Not sure where your card is or if you qualify for one? See tect.org.nz or phone 578 5094.

The 10th anniversary Tauranga Arts Festival runs from October 19 to 29. See the full programme at taurangafestival.co.nz