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Takitimu hosts Te Maori reunion

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Five members of the original Takitimu contingent which hosted the Te Maori Exhibition in the USA in the mid-1980s came together this morning for a reunion and to mark 26 years since the famous exhibition hit the world stage.

The group included Raina Ferris, her sister Marina Sciascia (Porangahau, Central Hawke's Bay) and their brother Piri Sciascia (Wellington), as well as Waireka Caswell (Masterton) and Tama Huata (Hastings).

The Takitimu contingent hosted the exhibition when it featured at the De Young Museum in San Francisco in 1985.

This morning's reunion was held as part of the Takitimu Festival at the Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings and to mark the occasion, an exhibition of 20 photos depicting the people involved in Te Maori, were reveled and put on display for the morning.

Mr Sciascia was one of the organizers of the exhibition during the 1980s and he told the reunion that he was thinking of stepping down as chairman of the Te Maori Manaaki Taonga Trust.

The trust was established to encourage and provide education and training of Maori in the care and display of Maori taonga. The trust's fund was derived from the profits of the Te Maori Exhibition which toured the US from 1984 to 1987.

One the trust's success stories was Arapata Hakiwai who was appointed director Matauranga Maori at Te Papa. He was one of the trust's earliest scholarship recipients and he also presented on the impacts of the Te Maori Exhibition at the Takitimu Festival.

"I think the trust has a lot of work to do, the thing to remember is that the kaupapa of Te Maori belongs to the people and not the trust. If we want to have anything to do with it in terms of Takitimu, we've got to make it happen ourselves," Mr Sciascia said.

"The putea we've had, $1.2 million, sounds like a lot but once you send it over time it's gone and we've had to rely on investments of about $50,000 a year.

"The costs of running the trust let alone giving scholarships has outweighed its ability to generate an income to do something worthwhile."

Mr Arapata, in his presentation, said the Te Maori Exhibition had made an impact on the world.

"We all remember the Te Maori Exhibition, we saw it on TV, the moving ritual ceremonies.

"We heard the power of the karakia and we were up lifted by its power and presence because our people travelled with them and these taonga treasures were ours.

"The profile of Maori art was raised to another dimension as they occupied a rightful position on the international stage along with some of the other great art traditions of the world.

He said the depth of the Maori taonga captivated American audiences and the power of the culture inspired many books on the exhibition's influence and impact.

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