Lighting A Season Of Abundance

Whānau across the district can now mark their calendars with a special date – the Season of Matariki.

Te Ara I Whiti is presented by Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival and brings the riverside to life with illuminated contemporary Māori arts and design, attracting whānau of all ages who delight in wandering through the installations, enjoying the music, and sharing kai.

This year, the July 9-17 event is one of a number of Matariki celebrations across the rohe.

Chief Executive and Artistic Director Tama Waipara says the collaborative effort highlights the richness of the creative history and genius of Te Tairāwhiti. “We have no shortage of stories and artists here,” he says. “Matariki is a season that belongs to us all and I think this year is the first time as a nation we are looking to acknowledge this particular time of year and what it means.”

Matariki is a time for reflection – a chance to gather perspective, a time to look up, to look inwards, and a time to plant new ideas. “Matariki represents that reset time and we have never needed a reset like we do right now.”

Te Ara I Whiti promises another spectacular exhibition of mahi toi at Kelvin and Marina parks. It will once again be curated by Melanie Tangaere-Baldwin, with exhibiting artists including Ngaire Tuhua, Randal Leach, Te Naiti Tīhema, Chevron Hassett, Erena Koopu and Angus Muir.

It had been challenging to select just six artists for Te Ara I Whiti, but Mr Waipara said the final group brought a rich diversity of form and expression. “This installation is at the centre of our Matariki offering, while we participate and partner with other community kaupapa who are also acknowledging the season of Matariki. While there are less works inside Te Ara I Whiti, the scale and intent of the trail has deepened considerably, last year bringing 16,000 people out to see.

The Te Pūtahi Stage is also back to showcase local musical artists and talents, with each evening featuring live music and kai or coffee carts.

The Arts Festival team are excited to see whānau of all ages coming to Te Ara I Whiti. “I love that everyone comes and feels a sense of connection. Last year I sat across the river and the sounds of whānau out together to see the works was uplifting.”

“It is something the community truly owns,” he said.

It was important to Mr Waipara that Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival celebrated alongside others who were doing the same thing.

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival has partnered with community kaupapa celebrating Matariki including:

  • Tautua Arts, who are running three events between June 20-25
  • Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is offering a twilight night market
  • Tairāwhiti Voyaging Trust will be hosting wānanga on traditional navigation aboard the waka
  • Muriwai Weavers will be running weekend workshops for the public
  • Tairāwhiti Technology Hub will be hosting poetry workshops open to all
  • Tōnui Collab will be exhibiting Ko Au, Ko Matariki at the HB Williams Memorial Library

Many gallery spaces around Tūranganui-a-Kiwa/ Gisborne will also be hosting special exhibitions for the Matariki season.

“The festival is dedicated to realising the creative abundance of our place. Our region has been through so much lately, and while it is important to support each other in emergency response and crisis, it is also essential to continue to nurture our resilience and innovation. I believe our creative spaces do that” said Mr Waipara.


Artwork Pictured: Te Rerenga Te Whai by Johnny Moetara