Que Bidois is looking to history to inspire his latest work of art.

He's one of five artists invited to explore the Tauranga Heritage Collection for an artefact to spark his creative energy.

He found it, a picture of his ancestors. And it provided the inspiration he needed for his artwork, looking out over Mauao.

"I call it the whare koraha, or the desert of houses that have been built," he said. "And then I sat there and thought of what it must have been like to see the view in the time of my ancestors. What would they have been thinking about at that very point?"


As part of the local arts festival, Bidois will perform a pātere or waiata, talking about local history and places of significance in the region.

"It's about looking at ourselves and reminding us of where we came from," he said.

With this in mind, Bidois thinks Tauranga has missed an opportunity.

"Tauranga really needs a museum to tell our stories. Not just stories of old and of Māori history, but the history of this city itself," Bidois said.

"Without these things for our young ones to come and look at artefacts, to show us what happened here, how are we supposed to be educated in our own history?"

This week the Tauranga City Council voted against supporting a $55 million museum project. Councillors said it was too expensive.

Marion Arts is another artist who is disappointed that local artefacts will not be on display.

"It is a loss," Arts said. "It is almost nonsensical to store them away. You would have thought that if they downsized in their ambition, mainly, then they would be able to show these stories to us."


Arts is a singer/songwirter who has also created a new work for the festival.

She drew her inspiration from a gold-medal awarded posthumously to a Tauranga soldier killed in World War I.

"I have this sadness, really, that a life is worth so little," she said. "You can buy them on e-Bay now for very little. They were colloquially called a Dead Man's Penny. I thought that was a good song title. I just fed off the story that I was told."

Arts has spent five decades performing around the world but was eager to be involved in the local event.

"I thought it an interesting artistic vision. Someone that knew that if an artist is really an artist, then they will look at something and have an artistic reaction to it - and that might just be interesting."

The Escape! Arts Festival will run this Queen's Birthday Weekend.

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