Our Kaupapa


Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is
of the place and its people


Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is
a platform for connection


Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is
led by the arts

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is a festival with a difference, one uniquely focused on inclusion, access and authenticity, and designed to use the arts to explore what it means to be of Te Tairāwhiti. 

With artists and audiences at the centre, our festival elevates the kōrero, taonga and talent of Te Tairāwhitishowcases and creates world-class artistic experiences – and makes theaccessible to as many people as humanly possible! 

Since the inaugural event in October 2019, each year our festival plays a crucial role as a platform for connection and creativity that attracts audiences from here and afar and between people of all generations and cultures.   

In 2020 the festival sought to help people reconnect and move forward together after a time of isolation. Over 10 days, 20,000 festival goers relished in 78 performances, exhibitions and events, with 206 artists, across 11 venues between Wairoa, Tūranganui-a-Kiwa and Uawa.  

Our festival is a first of its kindleading the world in what it is to connect people to art, culture and ultimately identity.  

Our why is simple. We want to be great ancestors, build a legacy for our region and our people and continue to create experiences that connect, illuminate and inspire generations into the future. 

Our Tohu

Tai – Whakapapa

The coast, locates us and our region. Our festival recognises that conviction of identity comes from true knowledge and understanding of origin, and concentrates on the depth of connection between things, people, ideas, rather than the breadth.

Rā – Energy

The sun, cloaks, wraps and infuses us with energy. It reveals the world both figuratively and metaphorically. It gives rise to transformation, disruption, movement and adventure. Our festival like the sun, gives rise to kōrero and kaupapa that is a legacy for rangatahi.

Whiti – Exchange

Typified by connection, reciprocity, open-mindedness, generosity and shared experience. The festival brings experiences from within and without Tairāwhiti to inspire, ignite and connect the many people of our nation. It engages people in the creation of content, encouraging thought and dialogue and builds community, unity and understanding with the exchange of ideas and intent.


Te Pūwaha


The name is an acknowledgement of the orientation of the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival office towards the mouth the of Tūranganui river and the site of Te Toka a Taiau/Taiao. Alongside the rich and layered history of encounter situated around this site, the name conceptually recognises the river mouth as an appropriate metaphor to express exournter and relationships. 

From an etymological perspective, ‘pū’ recognises origins and whakapapa. It references the layers of knowledge and understanding that underpin our identities and our creative expression. It also pays geographical tribute to the multitude of rivers throughout Te Tairāwhiti that unite our many communities through convergence and connection. 

Waha (mouth) is the reference to ‘expression’. Through the deliberate facilitation of time and space (wā) we express energy and life (hā). 

Te Pūwaha is the office of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival. It is a doorway through which opportunity and expression is enabled. It is a threshold between history and the future. It demarcates time and space with a spirit of creativity, vitality, and potential.