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Te Arawa performing artists unite to launch ARONUI 2021

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

ARONUI Indigenous Arts Festival (ARONUI) returns to the national arts scene with a brand new trailer, in collaboration with a new Te Arawa Performing arts collective, ‘Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa’. From the eight beating hearts of Te Arawa, come eight passionate performing artists’ who each descend from the eight children of great Te Arawa ancestor, Rangitihi.

Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa members share over 30 years of performance experience locally and internationally, and now aspire to bring their skills home, passing on their knowledge to the Rangatahi (youth) of Rotorua.

"Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa is a commitment to our rangatahi. Our whakapapa connects us, while our passion for the arts fuels us," says Cian Elyse White (Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao), a member of the group and Festival Director for ARONUI. Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa share a diverse range of skills, with various specialists in Haka, Dance, Theatre, Film, TV, Music, Writing, Directing, Visual Design, Traditional Arts and Crafts, Textile Design and Animation.

Māori dancer and journalist Matiu Hamuera (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue) feels the announcement of this rōpū (group) marks a special time in their two-year development journey to date, "This trailer is the start of sharing our stories and the unique histories connected to Rotorua, the volcanic epicentre of Aotearoa. Kotahitanga - togetherness, is represented in the kākahu (costume) designed by Te Rau O Te Huia Pou," says Hamuera.

Much like Rotorua’s hot springs, Hamuera speaks of the energy and motivation behind this creative campaign, saying that "movement, haka and performing arts is bubbled up in this kaupapa as we stand united on our whenua, ready to share our stories with our community".

Dr. Sophie Williams, an original member and key driver of this collective, acknowledges that "there are many talented Te Arawa artists who are keeping our stories alive- Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa is another vehicle in which we can contribute to this kaupapa. What brings us together is our commitment to serving our Rangatahi, by sharing the skills we have acquired on our respective journeys."

ARONUI is an Indigenous all-arts festival that runs over 11 days from September 9 to 19, and is now in its third year. 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.

Last year, the festival was postponed due to restrictions on large gatherings under Covid-19 alert level 2, "Having had a hiatus due to Covid-19 last year, it is exciting to announce such brilliant acts that will be performing at ARONUI this year," says arts festival trust chair Mercia-Dawn Yates.

ARONUI Festival Director Cian Elyse White looks towards a potential joint project between the two organisations, "Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa has been years in the making, with the collective's first wānanga running in 2018. The ARONUI Trust looks forward to announcing a work-in-progress project, in collaboration with the collective, at a later date."

ARONUI Indigenous Arts Festival is supported by 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.

For tickets and the official 2021 ARONUI programme,

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