Line-up Announced For Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival 2021

Published: Wed 28 Jul 2021 06:10 PM
A festival like no other, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will bring together over 200 artists and performers for the third annual celebration of the arts and the talented East Coast from 8 to 17 October.
Gisborne is a place rich with artistic history and talent, including celebrated performers and artists, both living and remembered. Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival stories are drawn from the expanse of the entire East Cape - linked by whenua and whakapapa - across the motu, and the world. From Tūranganui-a-kiwa to Ruatorea, in October, Gisborne and the wider Tairāwhiti region will be alive with performance, arts, music, and kapa haka.
A world premiere this year is HIHĪ, a new opera event comprising songs of Te Tairāwhiti, popular waiata operatised, and operatic arias in te reo Māori, which will be performed at the base of Ahitītī in the beautiful Waihīrere Domain Reserve.
Created by the powerhouse team of Teina Moetara, Ruth Smith, Mere Boynton and Tama Waipara, in partnership with New Zealand Festival of the Arts, HIHĪ combines kapa haka, waiata and opera, features a chamber orchestra of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra musicians, and showcases some of the most remarkable Tairāwhiti ‘songbirds’ amidst the exquisite beauty of the natural environment.
The famous Festival light trail Te Ara I Whiti returns. Te Ara i Whiti is an enchanting multi-media installation of light sculptures, projections and artworks which celebrates connection to place. This year, with guest curation by multi-disciplinary artist and curator, educator and practitioner Melanie Tangaere Baldwin, and created by artists connected to the rohe with the support of award-winning lighting designer Angus Muir, a swathe of spectacular illuminated surprises, large-scale sculptural installations, and projections await those looking for a provocative, playful and whānau-focused evening out. Artists include Chevron Hassett, Erena Koopu, Fiona Collis, George Watson, Huia Edmonds & Ngaire Tuhua, James Tapsell-Kururangi, Johnny Moetara, Maungarongo (Ron) Tekawa, Steve Gibbs, Taupuruariki (Ariki) Whakataka Brightwell, Tāwera Tahuri, and Terangi Roimata Kutia-Tataurangi.
New in 2021 is The Festival Club at the Lawson Field Theatre, which opens in bold colours, outlandish style and the pink splendor of the Rose Room. La Vie En Rose (more Grace Jones than Edith Piaf) is a dance party of glam-rock proportions. With an all-night line-up of DJs, special performances and more than a few surprises, this fabulous gathering kicks off on opening night alongside the lights of Te Ara i Whiti.
Festival CEO and Artistic Director Tama Waipara says, “The Festival is a celebration of, and a space to highlight, the abundance of creativity in Te Tairāwhiti. The people of this place and the connection to whenua is what makes the experience so special and unique. Our festival shines a light on what our community is capable of - who we are here and why we are here. And in knowing who we are at home, we can welcome others with open hearts, saying, ‘Come for the kaupapa and, while you’re here, experience something new, step outside yourself, and learn something about our region.’”There is a focus on Māori and Pasifika dance in the 2021 Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival programme.
Artistic Director Jack Gray marks the 21 years of Atamira Dance Company with the collaborative new work Te Wheke, bringing together leading names in contemporary dance from Aotearoa including Louise Potiki Bryant, Dolina Wehipeihana, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Gabrielle Thomas, Kura Te Ua and Bianca Hyslop. With Executive Producer Marama Lloyd, these brilliant choreographic practitioners, and a cast of eight dancers including the renowned Sean MacDonald, explore the dimensions of human experience symbolised by the eight tentacles of Te Wheke— the Octopus, a powerful guardian on this journey from past into future.
Pacific Dance Festival presents two unique dance works, Double Bill: Atali'i O Le Crezent by Villa Jr Lemanu, and 'XY' Only by Raisedinland Iose. Atali'i O Le Crezent (Sons of the CREZENT) is a Pasifika memoir of good times and lessons, and a post-it note on the importance of the community. 'XY' Only pushes boundaries and rules with non-Pacific female dancers performing a traditional fa'ataupati, which is usually reserved and performed by Samoan males. Iose developed it with a chorus from his congregation.The theatre programme is a diverse line-up of powerful stories.
Auckland Theatre Company’s The Haka Party Incident by filmmaker and theatre director Katie Wolfe resurrects the eventful day when a group of University of Auckland engineering students rehearsing their annual tradition of a mock haka are confronted by the activist group, He Taua. The incident sent ripples through the nation and changed race relations in New Zealand forever. Coming to Te Tairāwhiti following a sold-out Tāmaki season earlier in the year, The Haka Party Incident is verbatim theatre that innovatively combines documentary and kapa haka to thrilling effect.
Waipara says, “Tūranga-nui-ā-Kiwa has a unique demography that lends itself to a healthy and robust unpacking of our histories and narratives. The arts present a special platform to be able to examine and consider different perspectives and The Haka Party Incident is a documentary theatre piece that looks into our history in Aotearoa through honest and frank discussion. Presented cleverly and beautifully through verbatim theatre, Katie Wolfe has opened out a kōrero about a time and a place in the continuum of Aotearoa that allows audiences to explore and experience our own stories in a dynamic and powerful way.”
Ka-Shue (Letters Home) is an epic story of love, laughter, and loss, spanning one hundred years between China and New Zealand. Delivered through the eyes of a Chinese family struggling to resettle in Aotearoa, by actor and writer Lynda Chanwai-Earle, Ka-Shue is a broad sweep of the political events between the two countries is the backdrop for the personal dramas of the five characters played brilliantly by one actor.
Award-winning play, Lip Sync, Kanikani, Twerk Off tells the story of a whānau struggling with a huge loss, navigating womanhood and learning how to bring light to the hard times. It is a message to our rangatahi to speak out, keep hope and have a mean lip sync on the way home.
Also an award-winning musician, Waipara has lined up a music programme that traverses genres, genders and generations.
You can take the girl out of Gisborne, but you will never take Gisborne from her heart. In Homecoming Queens, Jackie Clarke (MNZM), Sandy Mill and Bronwyn Turei will bring home a brand-new show inspired by memories of growing up in Tūranga, as well as cherry-picking songs from their illustrious and varied professional careers. A concert filled with soul and vocal artistry, running on the unstoppable twin engines of love and home, backed by a stonking band of local luminaries Bronwyn, the actor, Jackie, the entertainer and Sandy, the songstress.
Written and composed by the talented Tuari siblings, Whakapaupākihi is the first reading of a musical adaptation of the feats and some history of three eponymous East Coast ancestors known as the three sons of Iranui. They are Taua-i-te-rangi, Mahaki-ewe-karoro and Hauiti. With a hint of Divergent, and a dash of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Whakapaupākihi tells the epic story of three brothers who fought against each other to maintain autonomy for their people.
Deva Mahal was born with blues in her blood. Beginning from her upbringing in Kaua’i, Hawaii to discovering her voice in Aotearoa, she has toured the world, gracing the stages of the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Bonnaroo, SXSW, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Byron Bay Blues Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival, and many other esteemed events and venues. But she’s home, renewed, inspired, and can’t wait to share it.
Winner of Best Roots Album and Best Māori Artist (2019 VNZMAs), Troy Kingi returns with the fifth, “folk” instalment, in his 10, 10, 10, Series - ten albums in ten genres in ten years – Black Sea Golden Ladder. A collaboration with award winning artist and producer Delaney Davidson, the album was written and recorded as part of the Matairangi Mahi Toi Artist Residency in Wellington. Kingi says, "It is the most personal of all my albums – the first one I feel that is truly about me."
From Dolly to the Dixie Chicks, Tami Neilson’s The F Word is the journey of feminism through song, from the first #1 hit for a female country artist in 1952 to today. The F Word is a musical concert experience held together with humorous storytelling about the women behind the music.
Soulful singer-songwriter Louis Baker is undoubtedly one of the most compelling voices to emerge from Aotearoa’s fertile musical landscape in recent years. With a powerhouse voice that’s capable of a primal RnB scream or tear-inducing plea, and a talent for writing deeply personal, stirring songs, Louis has gathered a loyal following that spans the world over. Taking his signature brand of modern-soul to bright new territory his most recent release ‘Love Levitates’, described by Rolling Stone Magazine as “luxurious funk-soul”, is Baker’s five-track opus of life, an intimate yet expansive journey of heritage, love, friendship and observation.
The spectacular spectacle of queer deliciousness – Dragon’s Diva Den – is back! Following sold out shows at Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival 2020, once again Lady Trenyce Bhone and Ms Lady B, joined by Elektra Shock (RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under), will band together to transform local personalities into the most stunning and outrageous drag artists you’ve seen this side of the Southern Hemisphere. Packed with wild antics and relentless raunch, an evening in the Dragon’s Diva Den is guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face and a rainbow in your heart.
Two of the finest songwriters in Aotearoa - Anna Coddington and Julia Deans - are teaming up for a special night of music. Friends and long-time collaborators, the acclaimed musicians will combine forces to bring a rich blend of their creative genius, from the most cutting and powerful, to poignant and achingly beautiful.
Shaking every tree and turning up every rock in an epic search from Potaka to Mohaka, Tairāwhiti’s own entertainment extra-ordinaires, Jackie Clarke and Rutene Spooner, bring together a showcase of Gisborne’s greatest talents, you never knew existed! Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is proud-as-punch to present, the world-premiere of its very own homegrown, comical, courageous and quirky cabaret – All That Glitters is Gizzy. A local line-up of spectacular acts perform for two nights only in a show that will knock your Red-Bands right off your feet!
Throughout the Festival, there will be a line-up of Festival Club Soul Sessions, featuring soulful singers, jam sessions, up-and-coming artists and musicians, curated by local musical powerhouse Tyna Keelan.
Because it’s school holidays, there are plenty of excuses to gather friends and whānau and make a day of it.
Whānau Day this year will be at Waihirere Domain at which guests can enjoy a range of family-friendly activities, discover new treasures made by local craftspeople and artisans, soak in live performances, and enjoy kai from local vendors.
Te Pūtahi - The Trust Tairāwhiti Festival Hub will again be a point of connection, to gather for daily activities, workshops, live performances, markets, kai and fun for the whole family. All are invited to be a part of the heart Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival 2021.
According to Chair of Trust Tairāwhiti, John Clarke, the Trust are proud to be the principal supporter of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival. He says, “The Festival has, at its heart, artists and audiences, with a focus on access and inclusion, it plays a central role in connecting our communities and celebrating the cultural identity of our region and people.”
Te Tairāwhiti is the home of some of Aotearoa’s best loved and most regarded visual artists - there is a rich artistic history in this region.
In Lamentation, Professor Bob Jahnke has commissioned new work by six poets, including Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti. Drawing on their texts, Jahnke laments the destruction of our natural world. Anchoring this collaborative project is Hone Tuwhare’s Rain.
In Through the Eye of the Lens a group of Te Tairāwhiti rangatahi will explore climate change and environmental issues in our region through the lens of a camera. Delivered in partnership with Trak Zero, students of Whangara School share their view on climate issues with mātauranga Māori and science with leading climate scientist Dan Hikuroa, then spent a week with professional photographers Te Rawhitiroa Bosch and Natalie Robertson, before delivering a free outdoor exhibition as part of the Festival.
NOise VACANCY is a conceptual sound art project by Tairāwhiti artists and musicians, curated by a team of three diverse creatives Nikki O’Connor, Lina Marsh and Katy Wallace. The growing number of vacant spaces in contrast to the lack of housing in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa city is evidence of shifting economic and social patterns. NOise VACANCY invites audiences to wander through a series of creative installations, to experience the artists' responses to what they have heard, smelt, seen and dreamt of within spaces that have been left empty and unused for a long time.
Kaihanga Uku is a national collective of Māori Clay artists founded in 1987. As a collective they have exhibited nationally and internationally and established the profile of Māori ceramics both in NZ and overseas. The exhibition title Tihei references the legend of Tane forming the first woman, Hineahuone, from the clay at Kurawaka the sacred pool of Papatūānuku. On finishing his work, he breathed the enlivening hā (breath) into her nostrils. She sneezed, signifying she was alive and hence the saying – “Tihei mauri ora!” – I sneeze, I am alive!
Shining the light on the region’s people, place and stories, the ‘ara’ will extend further in 2021, with Te Ara Patupaiarehe - The Fairy Trail at Manutahi Hill in Ruatorea. Based on Ngāti Porou folklore as interpreted by the students of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Waiu o Ngāti Porou and kōrero from respected kaumatua, Nanny Kuini Moehau Reedy, this community-led project invites audiences to engage and discover the patupaiarehe along the illuminated forest trail.
This ara is extended further again to offer audiences of all ages the chance to deepen their understanding, and broaden their perspectives around a number of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival events, by shining a light on the people or the stories behind them - a series of activations, workshops, panel discussions and artists talks will amplify events in the programme. More info at there’s film!
They’re not a long time, but a good time; Show Me Shorts is New Zealand's leading international short film festival, which has become a popular addition to the Gisborne arts calendar and will return in 2021. The programme will include some of the best new short films from New Zealand and around the world, featuring a diverse collection of cultures and voices. Learn something. Feel something. Be inspired.
There are many more events, workshops, tamariki offerings and activities in the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival programme, including a series of storytelling and book readings - Pukarau (Many Stories) - for young people at the HB Williams Memorial Library and workshops with Tonui Collab. Visit or hunt out a free festival programme at cafes and venues across the region.

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