23 Apr 2021
Creative New Zealand is pleased to announce the appointment of Kereama Te Ua (Te Whakatōhea, Tūhoe, Te Whānau a Apanui, Tūwharetoa, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Pākehā) as the new Arts Practice Director, Māori.
In response to the ever-changing landscape of Aotearoa and guided by the Arts Council New Zealand, Creative New Zealand is committed to being more intentional in how we reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in our work. And so Creative New Zealand’s former Arts Practice Director Māori, Hāniko Te Kurapa, has been appointed to oversee a new strategic direction we call ‘Te Kaupapa o Toi Aotearoa’ to advance our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ensure we provide better value for all New Zealanders.
As Hāniko is addressing this important area of work, we’re pleased to announce the appointment of Kereama Te Ua (Te Whakatōhea, Tūhoe, Te Whānau a Apanui, Tūwharetoa, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Pākehā) as the new Arts Practice Director – Māori.
Kereama sat down to answer a few questions about the role and his vision for it.
“He aha tāku e kōhātia atu ai, ā, me pēhea ngā iwi e āta āwhinatia ai e au?”
I tukuna mai aua pātai i a au e ngahuru mā waru aku tau e tōku koroua, ko ia tētahi Tōtara nui o te ao Māori, me tētahi tino hāpai ō o te mātauranga Māori, arā, ko Wiremu Kerekere.
I aku mahi katoa, i a au e mahi toi ana, e kaikanikani ana, e kaiwhakahaere ana, e kaiako ana, i noho pū tēnei pātai ki te tūāpapa o ōku mātāpono hei kupu arahi matua māku mō tōku āhuatanga i a au e mahi ana me tōku iwi.
Ko te pae tawhiti o tōku oranga, ko te whai haere i ngā mana o ngā rangatira i tuku aroha nui ki te ao Māori, arā, ko Wiremu Kerekere, rātou ko Henare Te Ua, ko Tākuta Ngāpō Wehi, ko Annette Wehi, ko Rawinia Rangitakatū, ko te whānau Wehi, ko Jim Moriarty, Ko Witi Ihimaera, ko ngā māreikura katoa o Te Waka Huia, ko Hāniko Te Kurapa hoki hei whakaingoatanga iti nei.
Nāku ō rātou akoranga, ā rātou rautaki i whakauru, i whakahāngai ki ngā horopaki o ēnei wā ahakoa, atamira mai, mātauranga mai, pākihi mai rānei me te ū pūmau tonu ki ngā tikanga ā kui mā, ā koro mā hei tūāpapa anō māku me āku mahi katoa.
Māku tēnei tūranga whakahirahira e whakamahi ki te tautoko i ngā whakapanonitanga whai tikanga
me ngā whakatūtukitanga pai ake mō Ngai Tāua, ko ngā toi Māori me ērā atu mahi toi.
1. Nōnahea i whakaaro ai ka puri koe i ngā kīwai o te kete aronui? | When did you know you wanted to work in the arts?
I was born into a whānau that was heavily involved in te ao Haka, ngā mahi a rēhia a Tanerore, te marae ātea o Tumatauega. My koro would drag me off to Te Waka Huia practices where my cousins and I were in total awe, watching our aunties and uncles perform, teach, speak te reo Māori, etc. Not only were they lawyers, journalists, filmmakers, teachers and public servants, but they were also artists; weavers, carvers, tā moko artists, taonga puoro practitioners, mau rākau tohunga, mātanga reo, healers, waka people, kaikōrero and kaikaranga. Within the whare of Te Waka Huia, I was exposed to all Ngā Toi Māori artforms and expert practitioners. Some of them worked full time as Kaihaka at the Auckland Museum where I spent a lot of time as a kid admiring the art works and imagining what life would have been like for my tīpuna. As a kid I had no desire to be an All Black, I wanted to be a Kaihaka for Te Waka Huia, a warrior for my culture who was also a practitioner of the arts. Later on in life, I gravitated to Dance and Theatre as I saw parallels from the traditional arts through to the contemporary which was really exciting for me. It was all storytelling to me, but being raised in te ao haka always gave me a different perspective to my storytelling.
2. Ko wai hei kaiarataki māu i te ao toi Māori? | Who do you consider a mentor / role model in the arts?
I have many, and they span across all artforms and are far too many to mention. However, If I were to mention a few I would start with Dr Ngāpō Wehi. Not only was he a great leader, composer, practitioner, but he was an amazing human being! He always encouraged us and encouraged our potential. Most of all he was the most humble man I’ve ever met. He would always remind us “e toru ngā mea nui i tēnei ao: tuatahi – ko te whakaiti; tuarua – ko te whakaiti; tuatoru – ko te whakaiti.” He himself was also the embodiment of this whakatauakī. I miss him so much, and am grateful for everything he instilled in us.
Following on from his teachings would be my Aunty and Uncle Tapeta and Annette Wehi, tutors of Te Waka Huia who actively pushed my sister and I into the arts and higher education. It makes such a difference that someone like that believes in you more than you did yourself, supports your growth but is also there to keep you in check, and remind us of our responsibility to give back to te ao Māori.
During my two and a half years here at Toi Aotearoa, I have been lucky enough to have been mentored by taku Pāpā a Hāniko Te Kurapa, who has played a huge role in my development. He is just like my koroua in many ways; humble, mana, intelligent, creative, manāki, and truly cares about the future of our artforms and Ngā toi Māori practitioners who are the true leaders and pioneers of te ao toi. He tangata puku mahi; he works tirelessly in the background towards the betterment of our people and our mahi toi.
3. He aha āu matawara mō te tūranga mahi nei? | What do you hope to achieve in your role?
My vision for the role includes building on the legacy that Hāniko Te Kurapa has provided. The role will allow me to bring together my knowledge in Te Ao Māori, a Māori world view, mātauranga, tikanga frameworks, te reo Māori, my lived experience and training as a practising artist – and as an arts administrator with insight into the mechanics of Creative New Zealand and government – in order to serve my people, advocate for better opportunities for ngā toi Māori and ngā toi Māori practitioners, to directly influence and shape the strategic direction for ngā toi Māori. Because of these things I can potentially see where the gaps are, where the trends are, what steps I need to implement and what relationships are needed to support sustainable careers for artists while preserving Mātauranga Toi and Mātauranga Māori.
4. He aha tētahi kaupapa toi i whakaihiihi i a koe? | What’s a recent arts experience that’s inspired you?
I’m inspired every day that I come to mahi – whether it’s watching a show or exhibition, participating in workshops, reading artist applications and then seeing the work come to life. The likes of the Tairawhiti Arts Festival, Toi Ngāpuhi, Haumanu Collective, Tārai waka/kaupapa waka including the He Kaupapa Waka exhibition at Te Kōngahu Museum by Te Rāwhitiroa Bosch, Kotahi Rau Pukapuka, Toi Tū Toi Ora, just to name a few. I truly feel privileged and honoured to be working in the arts.
5. Mehe tae o Uenuku koe, he aha nā taua tae? | If you could be a colour, which colour would you be?
I have two favourite colours, green and purple. And I would switch between the two as I navigate the many spaces that I encounter.
Green: is nature, natural, organic; it represents growth and new life as well as wisdom and resilience.
Purple: represents integrity and prestige, but it also represents balance. Purple is made up from two colours, red and blue; two opposite perspectives or worlds, if you like. Purple is a combination of both colours and represents the lights, shades, contrasts, tones; the best parts and the worst parts of both colours fused together to create its own uniquely beautiful vibrance.
He kupu whakatepe tāu? | Do you have a closing comment?
I believe arts advocacy for ngā toi Māori continues to develop on the work of some phenomenal leaders of the past and I believe the next wave of arts advocates and thought leaders are continuing to expand and support that growth. I look forward to adding my contribution to our kete.
Ki te wātea te hinengaro, me te kaha o te rere o te wairua, ka taea ngā mea katoa.