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Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival


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NEW TAIRĀWHITI ARTS FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FIRST EVENT IN 2019 PROGRAMME

New Zealand’s newest arts festival, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, has revealed the first event in its inaugural programme.

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is the Gisborne region’s new major festival and flagship contemporary arts and cultural event, taking place for the first time in October this year. The event celebrates what it means to be of Tairāwhiti and of Aotearoa.

From 4-20 October 2019, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will deliver more than 70 exceptional live performance events by over 400 performers, from both New Zealand and all over the world.

It is a rich, diverse and thoughtful arts festival which reflects and celebrates the people of Tairāwhiti, and further affirms the region’s strong position in the creative landscape of Aotearoa.  

With a programme packed full of paid and free events taking places across the region, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will premiere film, theatre, music, kapa haka, dance, story-telling, experiences and fun-for-all-the-whānau festivities.

The inaugural Festival Director Tama Waipara says, “Anchored in Tūranga-nui-ā-Kiwa/ Gisborne our Festival celebrates our whakapapa connections right around the coast, from Pōtaka to Mōhaka. This Festival will centre itself in the heart of the East Cape, but stretch its arms far and wide; globally acclaimed, proudly local and unashamedly accessible.

“We will celebrate the first stories of our whenua, and our whakapapa connections across the Pacific. We want people to know who we are and where we come from. We want to champion the stories and voices of our place amidst the most glorious backdrop of our home, Te Tairāwhiti.

“When you think of the wealth of talent connected to Tairāwhiti, you come to realise that our creativity as a region provides connection for all New Zealanders, both here and overseas. We see Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival as an opportunity to celebrate that.

“Tairāwhiti also boasts the highest number of Te Reo Māori speakers in the country. My own personal journey with te reo Māori is deepened by living in a community where the vibrancy and potency of language flourishes.

“We’re very proud of the journey we’ve taken so far, and even more excited to welcome people to our place in October,” Waipara says.

The first show to be announced in the 2019 Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is a new work by respected actor and playwright Nancy Brunning, Witi’s Wāhine, based on excerpts and characters from Witi Ihimaera stories.

Developed and written by Brunning and produced by Hāpai Productions with the blessing, support and guidance of Witi Ihimaera and his whānau, this new New Zealand play shines a light on the female characters in Ihimaera stories, including Pounamu, Pounamu; Waituhi; The Matriarch; Medicine Woman; Woman Far Walking; Whale Rider; Bulibasha; The Dream Swimmer; Sky Dancer and Parihaka Woman.

Brunning says, “Witi has always acknowledged that the women in his life are the reason he had stories to tell. Wāhine Māori are so often dumbed down for the big screen and many have their stories altered or diminished in order to bring the male characters into the spotlight. They are portrayed as leaders by default rather than by design; they are the love interest not the hero; the support role not the lead; the victim not the instigator; the destroyer not the nurturer; or are so sacred they are inaccessible.

“Our young women need honest role models and support in navigating the complex, raw and real messages they have been given about our wāhine Māori. This play is about bringing forward wāhine and offering a chance for young women to come face to face with wāhine Māori performers presenting a wāhine Māori worldview.”

Waipara says, “This is a world premiere which honours a son of Te Tairāwhiti and the women whose lives and stories he has brought to life in award-winning books, plays and films.”

The full programme of events in the inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will be announced in mid-2019.

For more information, images and interviews, please contact Siobhan Waterhouse at Mr Fahrenheit Publicity on siobhan@mrfahrenheit.nz or +64 22 126 4149.

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“Our creativity as a region provides connection for all New Zealanders.”

– Tama Waipara, Festival Director

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival

From 4-20 October 2019, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will put a spotlight on the Gisborne region with more than 70 exceptional live performance events by over 400 performers, from both New Zealand and all over the world.

The region’s new flagship arts and culture event is a rich, diverse and thoughtful contemporary arts festival which reflects and celebrates the people of Tairāwhiti. Multi-artform, region-wide, and a mixture of paid and free events, shows and arts events, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival’s kaupapa embraces the richness of the Gisborne region, celebrates the abundance of artistic excellence connected to Tairāwhiti, and recognises the region’s place in the creative landscape of Aotearoa.

The festival celebrates the remote nature of its location and uplifts the unique community spirit and geographic identity which defines not only the Tairāwhiti region, but also Aotearoa.

Later Event: 11 October
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