31 Aug 2022
In this blog, our Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright acknowledges the great Cath Cardiff, who leaves Creative New Zealand after over 20 years.
Recently we held a farewell (poroporoaki) for our friend and colleague Cath Cardiff, who finishes her time with Creative New Zealand this week after 22 years.
When we were thinking of an appropriate send off for Cath, we were faced with one of the age-old quandaries: how can you possibly truncate the work of a lifetime into a farewell event of 30 minutes or so?? Nevertheless, as one does, we gave it a go.
In keeping with our kaupapa, which has people and storytelling at its core, we heard some terrific kōrero from a wide range of sector peers. Fittingly for Cath, given her whakapapa as a dancer and choreographer we were delighted to behold a Cook Islands kapa rima (action-song/dance) performed in honour of Cath. The song to which the dancers danced is called ‘E Ta’i Roimata’ and was written by Jon Tikivanotau Michael Jonassen. Only a day earlier, Jarcinda Stowers-Ama and Tuaratini presented us with copies of his significant book Pe'e Māori on behalf of the Pacifica Mamas who were instrumental to its publication.
Equally fittingly, we were also able to cloak Cath in the beautiful korowai gifted to us by the late great tohunga Diggeress Te Kanawa who was adamant that it be used for special people and special occasions.
It was for many of us quite an emotional occasion.
Cath and I have been through a lot together over the last 22 years, and Cath has many long and deep relationships with colleagues here at Creative New Zealand as well as in the arts world. Over this long span, some of the times – in fact many of them – have been broadly predictable and anticipated. Some of our context, however, has been totally unpredictable and required a highly improvised and urgent response (I think of the Christchurch and Wellington earthquakes as well as the COVID-19 pandemic
What all of the Arts Council members and staff whānau came to understand and witness is Cath's absolute commitment to supporting the arts sector as best we can, with whatever we have in any context. This remarkable drive has always been at the centre of Cath's work, but it was when times were toughest, and when urgency and fresh solutions to fresh problems were most needed that we saw Cath be ‘even more’ of herself. Head, heart and purposeful direction setting and implementation bundled together with great drive and determination.
Cath's departure from Creative New Zealand this week (end of August) means that many of us are losing a trusted and valued friend and colleague, who has long been a champion of and for arts practitioners while inside Creative New Zealand. Thank you, Cath, for ensuring that perspective is part of our kaupapa.
Saying sayonara to such a longstanding and significant person always gives rise to a tangle of emotions, and of course a focus is to ensure that the new person can be as set up to succeed as possible. Cath being Cath, she had very helpfully given us all good time to do the orderly and helpful things that mark a good transition and spent good time with the next person to fill Cath’s seat in the waka. It is of course part of the great cycle that we shall shortly be having a pōwhiri to welcome Gretchen La Roche.
Go well Cath, we tip our hats to you, we thank you for all you have given and wish you all the best for your new venture.
He toka tūmoana he ākinga nā ngā tai.
A rock standing steadfast in the ocean, an expression for a leader who has dissipated the power of outside forces providing shelter for his/her sector.