A 100-strong delegation from Aotearoa will shortly be saying “Håfa Adai” (hello) to Guam for the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts.
Next week the delegation, comprising Māori and New Zealand-based Pasifika artists, will travel with the Royal New Zealand Defence Force to the Micronesian island for the festival, which runs from 22 May to 4 June 2016.
The delegation will be transported on an RNZAF Boeing 757 to and from the festival, with pickup/drop off points at Whenuapai air base in Auckland, Hamilton International Airport and Wellington Air Movements in Rongotai.
Held once every four years the Festival of Pacific Arts is arguably the world’s largest gathering of Pacific people. A government-to-government invitation the aim of the festival is to strengthen relationships across the Pacific, with Creative New Zealand responsible for Aotearoa’s presence.
The delegation will be led by the chair of the Arts Council’s Māori Committee, Darrin Haimona (Head of Delegation), Te Kahautu Maxwell (Delegation Kaumātua), along with support from Arts Council members Suzanne Ellison (Pou Āwhina) and Caren Rangi (Pou Āwhina Pasifika).
“It’s very special to be involved in an event that brings the whole of the Pacific together to celebrate what unites us as well as what makes us unique through culture and art,” says delegation head Darrin Haimona.
“We are excited to provide our artists this international platform to present their work along with the opportunity to strengthen their networks with other Pacific artists.”
Among the artistically diverse New Zealand delegation is multi-disciplinary Māori artist Lisa Reihana who will represent New Zealand at next year’s prestigious Venice Art Biennale. Lisa will present moving image and other works at the festival.
Music producer, composer and teaching artist Anonymouz (aka Matthew Salapu) will capture the spirit of the festival by creating an original 15 minute audio soundscape work. It will sample the natural environment of Guam as well as the various cultures, ethnicities, individuals, groups and communities involved in the festival.
World champion contemporary Māori street artists Charles and Janine Williams will paint a large-scale mural in a public space in Guam, as well as share their experience through multimedia and live painting demonstrations.
Internationally renowned and respected Samoan actor, writer and director Maiava Nathaniel Lees is leading a group of performers presenting Fale Sā (‘the Sacred House’) which is based on the Spirit of the Pacific.
National kapa haka champions Te Whānau-ā-Apanui will bring a strong Aotearoa flavour to the delegation. Since winning Te Matatini last year, they have performed in Spain at the Esdansa Festival, the Royal Edinburgh Military tattoo in Melbourne and Wellington, WOMAD in New Plymouth and the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hawai’i.
Veteran waka voyager Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr will share his knowledge and expertise at the festival. He was the kaihautū (leader) of the waka Haunui that took part in the epic ‘Te Mana o Te Moana’ journey in 2011/12, which saw seven vaka moana and a hundred Pan-Pacific Islanders sail throughout the Pacific to revive their ancient art of voyaging for the future of their ocean.
Fresh from the New Zealand Comedy Festival, Samoan/Welsh comedian, writer and political commentator James Nokise will perform his piece Big Words. A 2013 Fred Dagg Comedy Award Nominee and two-time Billy T Comedy Award Nominee, James has carved out a reputation in New Zealand going after everything from gangs, to politicians, to stereotypes within Pacific culture.
The Festival of Pacific Arts brings together more than 2,000 artists and other cultural practitioners from 27 Pacific nations. New Zealand has sent a delegation to every festival since it began in 1972.
Creative New Zealand has invested $650,000 to support Aotearoa New Zealand’s presence at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam and will provide on the ground support staff.
Artist delegation list (full details on Creative New Zealand website)