27 Nov 2023

This content is tagged as Ngā toi Māori .


A group of children and adults perform a haka outside a meeting house on a sunny day.
Ngāti Te Tākinga/ Ngāti Pikiao welcome the community at ARONUI Māori Market Sept 17 2023 celebrating arts, music, Māori business and Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. Photo from Āio media (image supplied).

The first Aronui Arts festival in Rotorua took place in Te Māhuru (across the month of September) 2019. It was a fantastic hit that drew on the cultural richness of Te Arawa and Te Rotoruanui-a-kahumatamomoe. In 2020, Covid-19 happened.

Cian Elyse White is the Founding Festival Director for Aronui Arts Festival Charitable Trust. Forming the trust was the first step in ensuring the sustainability of the festival, which is now an annual event showcasing Indigenous artists and their unique voices with te ao. 

Aronui is one of the arts festivals that has received support from the Māori Arts Festival Capability Fund, designed to support organisers of Māori arts festivals and hui ahurei to build and strengthen the skills and experience of their teams or organisations to continue to deliver festival programmes that celebrate ngā toi Māori with wider audiences. 

The funding is part of a one-off allocation from Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage as part of its Arts and Culture COVID Recovery Programme, to help address the continued effects of COVID-19, provide employment and skills development opportunities for artists and celebrate the unique stories, arts and regional identities of regions around Aotearoa. 

“Covid-19 demonstrated the power of art and its ability to act as a rongoā for whānau during trying times. The Aronui audience stayed with us during lock-down via our online programme, and came back ā-tinana (in-person) to the festival after lockdown,” says Cian. “We want to continue to create opportunities for people to experience Indigenous arts here in the regions- in their own backyard.”

“The Rotorua community has well and truly embraced Aronui. Now is the time to focus on our foundations and build our capability, so we can be equipped to continue to serve the Rotorua community into the future. We’re still a young trust, navigating the application of the Board’s policies, working on the best team structure and finally, settling into our permanent whare 'Te Takapū o Te Arawa' alongside other Māori businesses from the region."

Aronui feels responsible for the experience of its audiences, whose expectations have grown with the festival’s success. 

“Aronui needs a robust and dedicated operational team, due to the exponential growth we have experienced since launching in 2019. Our festival during Te Māhuru- September 11-2023), saw the participation of 800+ Indigenous artists (including 500 kaihaka from ages 4- 90 participating in Te Ahurei ā Ngāti Pikiao) and over 8,000 audience members to one of our 14 activations across the 2 week programme. Growth is a good problem to have! Now, Aronui looks to move beyond the volunteer based operation model, building capacity locally, which will eventuate in further job creation and resource development".

Another recipient of the Māori Arts Festival Capability Funding is Toi Kiri, held annually in Mount Maunganui.

A Māori artist takes part in a smudging ceremony before receiving tattoo work from an indigenous Canadian artist as another indigenous artist supports
Tia Taurere Clearsky (Ngā Puhi, Te Aupōuri) taking part in the smudging ceremony before receiving work from Ecko Aleck - handpoke⁠ (tattoo) Nlaka'pamux, Lytton First Nation, Canada. Natalia Roxas - Mambabatok⁠ (tattoo) Filipino, Tagalog, Kapampangan , Philippines, Hawaii⁠ is assisting Ecko (image supplied).

“Toi Kiri is an indigenous festival model focused on Tā Moko and embodying all Toi Māori,” says Julie Paama-Pengelly, Chair of Te Tuhi Māreikura Trust in Tauranga that established the annual Toi Kiri festival five years ago.

Toi Kiri includes three days of public festival with demonstrations and performances as part of a longer programme of symposia, workshops, and knowledge sharing. Artists come from indigenous communities across the world, all at different stages of revitalising their unique cultural practices. 

“We engage mana whenua to deliver the festival, it’s run adjacent to the marae. We embrace our international guests and our festival visitors in an indigenous space where art and cultural practices are integral to who we are,” Julie says.

“We’ll use the capability funding to develop our audience, to give visitors the chance to see the world through our eyes and let them know this experience is for them. We want to grow our skills in planning and public relations and use media to tell our story.”

All the recipient Māori Arts Festival organisations have goals that reflect Creative New Zealand’s Te Hā o ngā Toi Māori Arts Strategy, to advance the practice of ngā toi Māori, increase public engagement, and build a stronger sector to advance ngā toi Māori aspirations. 

The one-off festivals capability funding was awarded to 21 Māori and Pasifika festivals from across Aotearoa.

$1,818,591.50 total funding was requested
$1,564,180 total funding awarded

The funded festivals are: 

  1. Te Kiato Limited for Rātā – Northland $87,400
  2. Hawaiiki Tū Productions Limited for AUTAIA – Auckland $59,240
  3. Polynesian Entertainers Limited – Auckland $66,560
  4. The Polyfest Trust – Auckland $75,000
  5. Auau Enua Mangaia Association of New Zealand Incorporated – Auckland $5,000
  6. Fe'unu Koula Global Academy of Tongan Arts Dance and Culture Ltd – Auckland $72,000
  7. Pasifika in the Bay Trust – Tauranga $75,000
  8. Te Tuhi Mareikura Trust for Toi Kiri – Tauranga $75,011
  9. Rotorua Pacific Islands Development Charitable Trust – Rotorua $60,000
  10. Aronui Arts Festival – Rotorua $159,671
  11. Fale Pasifika Horowhenua – Horowhenua $75,000
  12. Māoriland Charitable Trust for Māoriland Film Festival – Horowhenua $75,000
  13. Le Moana – Porirua $75,000
  14. CreekFest – Porirua $65,000
  15. Wellington Northern Region Polyfest Trust – Porirua $53,000
  16. The Hutt Valley Schools HuttFest Trust – Lower Hutt $75,000
  17. Kalia – Blenheim $74,800
  18. Niu Economic and Enterprise Development Trust – Canterbury $65,000
  19. Aoraki Pasifika Festival – Timaru $73,650
  20. Te Mana Ahua Ake Charitable Trust – Dunedin $78,750
  21. Mīharo Murihiku Trust for Mīharo Murihiku Festival – Southland $119,098