The latest from Creative Waikato is a vibrant showcase of Toi Māori arts and culture: the Toi Maaori ki Kirikiriroa Waananga which includes a two-day artist wānanga of learning and sharing on September 8-9.
Sunday will move into full swing with a free “festival-feel” Community Day.
He Kai Moo Tee Kete translates to ‘food for your basket’. In this context, ‘food’ is knowledge. The aim is for emerging or established artists to take knowledge away with them.
As this is leading up to Māori Language Week / Te Wiki o te Reo Māori starting on September 11, this will also be an overarching theme of this event.
Creative Waikato is also looking to the great Princess Te Puea Hērangi for guidance when it comes to the collective dreams of Māori artists and creatives:
Mehemea ka moemoeaa ahau, ko ahau anake
Mehemea ka moemoeaa taatou, ka taea e taatou
If I am to dream, I dream alone
If we all dream together, we shall achieve
Princess Te Puea Herangi
“It is not a tick in the box, this is more genuine participation and learning something for your own kete. We want to highlight what Waikato has got, we have everything here, however, we don’t often get the opportunities as much,” says Kereama Clarke, Kaiwhakahaere i nga Mahi Toi / regional Māori arts developer at Creative Waikato.
“We want to invite the whole of the Waikato region, not just Kirikiriroa, to come in and experience, understand and celebrate Toi,” says Paula Jacobsen, Creative Waikato’s communications and marketing specialist.
Toi Maaori Ki Kirikiriroa will feature carvers, weavers, musicians, poets, writers, taonga puuoro experts and painters who will spend time connecting through the wānanga and will then facilitate free mini-workshops for the public in Garden Place and surrounding buildings.
The initiative is a collaborative effort facilitated by Creative Waikato with support from Te Tari o te Kiingitanga and Hamilton City Council Te Kaunihera o Kirikiriroa, alongside Waikato-Tainui, Te Pukenga-Wintec, Hamilton City Business Association and the Waikato Museum.
Creative Waikato CEO Dr Jeremy Mayall states the organisation is committed to opening up as many possible avenues to assist in raising the indigenous voice in the region.
“When toi is strong and visible, communities are strong and visible. It is important that as a community based here in the Waikato, we understand that what is good for Māori is good for everyone. We have an exciting opportunity in this Toi Maaori Ki Kirikiriroa community day to celebrate in these creative forms and stories that are from this place. It is a great way to connect and enjoy the different forms of visual art, weaving, carving, poetry, music, taonga puuoro and more.”
This multi-day event in the heart of Kirikiriroa offers a unique platform for ngā toi Māori to engage in koorero, wānanga, and mahitahi.
“It is not just about toi, there is also a focus on health and wellbeing. There will be an organisation from Tū Tonu Hauora that solely deals with health and wellbeing from a Māori perspective,” says Clarke.
“Things are not just by themselves in the arts, who have to look at the health and wellbeing of the person, if everything is thriving so will the people,” adds Clarke, “like Te Whare Tapa Whā (A wellbeing model developed by leading Māori health advocate Sir Mason Durie), if one pillar is not in balance then we have to strength that pillar so the house is more sturdy. That’s what we are hoping to do with creatives.”
On Friday at 12.30pm, there will be a formal pōwhiri up at Te Koopuu Maania Marae at Wintec Te Pukenga.
After that, there will be three panel workshops. This will cover aspects of creativity and practice in the world of Māori arts. The discussions will cover numerous important issues relevant to the arts (toi), such as tikanga (cultural observances), also, what it is to be Māori and succession planning.
The second day offers workshops for tuakana (established) and teina (emerging and mid-career) artists. Funding specialists will lead an in-depth workshop with a heavy emphasis on practice writing for teina artists.
“For a lot of Toi Māori artists they don’t know how to do that, they can talk about their kaupapa but they do not know how to write it,” says Clarke.
The workshop will also focus on what funding options there are and then write the application that suits them.
“It is going to spread across a number of areas and be quite challenging. I’m sure the facilitators that I have asked to attend are well-versed in the various areas,” says Clarke.
Tuakana artists are invited to join curator tangata whenua Maree Mills (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) in a visit to the waka taua of Tainui, Te Winika, then an in-depth open discussion in the National Contemporary ArtAward exhibition at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.
Those who prefer to bring works-in-progress to continue working on these will join artist, curator and Creative Waikato community activator Leafa Wilson in the warmth of a whānau (family) of other creatives at the Events Rooms at the Bill Gallagher Centre located at the top of Wintec Te Pukenga hill, Te Koopu Mania.
These will take place until the early afternoon then artists will bring along their gear and works. It will be set up like a gallery where people can walk around and see each other’s art.
“It will be very informal, as a lot of artists can be very introverted. So, this is an opportunity for people to get some feedback, introduce their creative offerings and Whakawhanaungatanga (the process of establishing good relations).”
The event crescendos into a dynamic into a free Community Day on Sunday, September 10, at Garden Place in Kirikiriroa from 10am to 5pm.
There will be a concert to celebrate the community held during the day which showcases a lot of local artists, established and emerging.
Some artists performing in this concert are a kapa haka group, hip-hop artists, and contemporary artists who blend contemporary music with traditional music and bands.
Also featured is Jamey Ferguson, a previous member of Katchafire. Another previous Katchafire member, Haani Totorewa, will also be performing. Most of his music is in te reo Māori.
Roots Connect will close off the concert.
There will also be food trucks on site. There will be Turner’s selling Mussle Fritters who are based in Ngāruawāhia.
Pikopiko Pies of Huntly will also be selling their homemade pies, some pies are made from hangi. Pikopiko Pies also gives whatever food is left over for the day back to the community, if he doesn’t sell it he gives it to those in need.
“The way I see it is there is ‘food’ everywhere, food for knowledge, food for your ears, and food from the trucks,” says Clarke.
There will be 10 artists running workshops. One involves a tour around the CBD talking about what artworks already established. Another workshop will be run with New Zealand musician Horomona Horo about collaborative music works in action which will end with a performance.
The other eight are mini-workshops on various Toi Māori art. To name a few workshops, artists will be highlighting graffiti art, music production, and making traditional clay flutes.
“This is the first time something like this has happened in Kirikiriroa. What we are hoping is to make it a success so that those who are looking in see that this is something that we want to do more often, maybe every two years, to avoid over saturation and commercialisation,” says Clarke.
Clarke says he can’t wait for people to see the vision and bring this to reality.
“My encouragement is - if you are practising in Toi Māori, then come. If you are thinking about practising in Toi Māori, then come.
“There really is something for everybody, for those not versed in tikanga. This might help create a good foundation for people’s own work to be able to blossom. This is a safe place to be able to do that.”