The first year of a new festival in Rotorua has gone above and beyond expectations for its director.

The Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival celebrates, inspires and shares through indigenous arts.

It showcased a diverse range of art forms including theatre, te reo Māori, music, writing, visual and traditional art as well as film.

It also supported Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori in the second week of September.

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The inaugural month-long festival started with a whakatau (welcoming ceremony) at Te Papaīōuru Marae, Ōhinemutu.

Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival director Cian Elyse White says the first festival has gone above and beyond their expectations.

"In this inaugural year we had hoped to develop the event and engage people. The community came out in full force and blew us away with its support."

(From left) Rosie Belvie, Kahumako Rameka and Matiu Hamuera performing at the official opening. Photo / Supplied by Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival
(From left) Rosie Belvie, Kahumako Rameka and Matiu Hamuera performing at the official opening. Photo / Supplied by Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival

She says they will be holding the festival again: "It's proven itself to be something the community really wants and embraced.

"We've already had questions from members of the public asking, 'When is this happening again?' That's the sort of response you dream of."

She says the festival even got some international artists involved in its first year, which was part of its three-year plan.

White said the achievement in this first year was phenomenal.

Even though the month is coming to a close there are still a couple of things happening as part of the festival in these last few days.

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The Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival is currently taking place, with more than 50 filmmakers from around the world meeting in Rotorua, she says.

Taumata Umu-ariki Soloman in front of his Aunty Bea mural. Photo / File
Taumata Umu-ariki Soloman in front of his Aunty Bea mural. Photo / File

The Whanonga Pono exhibition at the Arts Village is still on display and people can visit the mural of the late Aunty Bea by artist Taumata Solomon, which is located on the side of Ajay's Emporium on Hinemoa St.

White says she has enjoyed bringing the community and people together through the festival to celebrate and share stories about indigenous matters.

She says even though Aronui is an indigenous festival, it is for everyone, and members of the public from all different pockets of the community have shown up and shared memorable moments.

She is looking forward to seeing what is in store for the future.

White thanked the community, sponsors and the committee made up of volunteers for their help and support.

"Without the support shown it wouldn't have been the successful event it ended up being."

For more information on the festival go to aronuiartsfestival.com.