The Māori performing arts group HIWA are resident at the New Zealand Maritime Museum for a brief six weeks from
mid-January 2021, dazzling with their maritime-themed production Hiwa Ki Uta, Hiwa Ki Tai. The show explores stories of Māui, who fished up Te Ika a Māui the North Island and those of Polynesian wayfinders, who
colonised the Pacific using their profound knowledge of the sea, celestial navigation, and naval architecture.
Additionally, HIWA demonstrate the role of the guitar in contemporary storytelling.
HIWA are highly skilled with tī rākau stick games and poi, both of which were practised by warriors to develop the
skills required when wielding Māori weaponry—such as the taiaha or long fighting staff—or when manning waka. Swirling of
poi and the mastering of various poi patterns and movements, for example, made wrists more supple, as well as increasing
dexterity and agility.
“We’re acknowledging our ancestors, but also that Māori is an evolving living culture,” says HIWA’s compere and narrator
Nettie Norman. The show includes a spirited haka and graceful waiata-ā-ringa action songs, but also a sax and guitar
duet—of Glen Miller’s big-band-era jazz standard In the Mood. “The incorporation of the 1939 American tune is not as left-field as some in the audience might think—In the Mood has a long history of being performed and riffed on by Māori musicians”, notes Norman.
Hiwa Ki Uta, Hiwa Ki Tai concludes with a tour of the Museum’s Hawaiki Gallery, and a viewing of models of canoes of Aotearoa and the Pacific,
accompanied by explanations of the knowledge and techniques used to steer and navigate them.
HIWA’s performers include Kahiwa Moeau; Kingi Peterson; James Singe; Delysia Norman, Were and Mahaani Maiava; and Oceana
Hiwa Ki Uta, Hiwa Ki Tai: 15 January-21 February 2021
Auckland residents: $36; Visitors to Auckland: $45