Today marks the official launch of an indigenous arts festival held annually in Te Rotoruanui-a-Kahumatamomoe (Rotorua).
This year's festival, called Aronui, runs from September 9 to 19 and includes Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, celebrating film, visual and traditional art, te reo Māori, music, and theatre.
Rotorua-born Troy Kingi will return to his roots to headline Aronui.
Kingi is bringing his band The Upperclass with him, along with a growing list of accolades after winning the prestigious Taite Music Prize in 2020, Best New Zealand Soul Artist and Best Māori Artist at the 2018 Vodafone Music Awards, and a nomination in 2019 for an APRA Silver Scroll.
The performance will feature a number of songs in te reo Māori, to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
Aronui will also host an international act with world-renowned dancer and drag performer Roymata Holmes returning to Aotearoa with their show 'I AM KING. I AM QUEEN.', Described as "an evening of soul, sexuality and a person's journey into drag".
Aronui is an indigenous all-arts festival run over 11 days from September 9 to 19, and is now in its third year.
Last year, the festival was postponed due to restrictions on large gatherings under Covid-19 alert level 2.
Aronui festival director Cian Elyse White (Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao) said she was delighted to bring back the festival stronger than ever.
"[Last year] was a challenging year for many, however, I am honoured to spearhead this year's exciting festival once again, bringing people together to celebrate, empower, inspire, and be uplifted through the lens of arts in all its wonderful forms.
"Aronui is a rongoā, a healing activation that looks to create togetherness through sharing stories and vibrant, diverse perspectives of the world."
The festival director is no stranger to the stage herself, as fans will recognise White's leading role in the locally shot hit film Cousins, which will screen at the Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival (RIFF) as part of Aronui on September 9.
The festival is organised by the newly established Aronui Arts Festival Charitable Trust, helmed by descendants of Ngāti Whakaue and Te Arawa, alongside world-class award-winning artists.
Aronui is made with the support of the Rotorua Lakes Council, Creative NZ, Bay Trust, Rotorua Trust, Te Arawa FM, Steambox Film Collective, Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), Te Tatau O Te Arawa, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.
Book tickets and find the official 2021 event programme details at www.aronuiartsfestival.com