Te Arawa all-stars unite this September, bringing Rotorua its first month-long indigenous arts festival, Aronui.

Last Thursday marked the launch of the official 2019 event programme for the Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival which aims to celebrate, share and inspire through indigenous arts.

The whāriki (foundations) of the ahurei (festival) have been woven together by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI), Te Tatau o Te Arawa, Steambox Films and Rotorua Lakes Council with support from a number of Rotorua organisations.

Festival chairman and NZMACI general manager Eraia Kiel (Te Arawa) said Te Arawa had a huge pool of talent.


"It's humbling to know how many Te Arawa trailblazers Rotorua has in the arts, people who are regularly showcasing their talents across the world.

"Aronui is a reflection of the world's awakening to indigenous power, for us, as Māori, knowledge is hidden in arts and culture."

He said Aronui builds on NZMACI's vision of supporting indigenous cultures and hopes it will encourage other native artists from abroad to come to Rotorua.

Dance and kapa haka practitioner Rosie Belvie (Te Arawa) will launch the Aronui arts festival with her original performance art piece Ko Rangi, Ko Papa alongside Atamira Dance Company regular and Ōhinemutu Pā boy Matiu Hamuera.

"It will bring the world closer together, helping us to realise the similarities of all cultures as well as giving us an opportunity to embrace our differences.

"We aren't completely different. It will show us that we have the same values."

Aronui arts festival director Cian Elyse White (Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao) said mahi toi is a powerful vehicle for indigenous storytellers with boundless potential for exploring the voice on social issues.

"This is an opportunity for our world-class local, national and eventually international indigenous talent to come together and celebrate each other in a boldly indigenous space."


The Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival will showcase a diverse range of art forms including theatre, te reo Māori, music, writing, visual and traditional art as well as film.

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