Tracey Benson with Maata Wharehoka at Parihaka
Tracey Benson with Maata Wharehoka at Parihaka, SCANZ2015

I am very happy to announce that I will be a resident artist at Parihaka in late May to early June this year, collaborating with my dear friend, mentor and kuia (female tribal elder) Maata Wharehoka.

We will be working together to create a work for the Puanga Kai Rau Festival. The festival celebrates the rise of the star Puanga (Rigel) which marks the beginning of the Māori new year on the west coast of Aotearoa. The working title of our collaboration is The Silence: Puanga. 

Maata and I first met in 2015, when SCANZ2015 participants visited Maata at Parihaka to learn about cultural contexts for water. I was very drawn to Maata’s work – especially her incredible efforts in reinvigorating Māori cultural practices around death and burial. The process is known as Kahu Whakatere and is based on traditional Māori beliefs, uses a waka or transporter made of natural wood, rather than a coffin. The body is also wrapped in a kopaki (mat) which is made from harakeke (flax).

On and off over past few years Maata and I have been in conversation, discussing linkages between creation stories across cultures. There are three narrative threads which connect to our respective ancestors which we plan to explore:

I am fascinated by how the numbers 3 and 9 echo across cultures and time. Also the relationship to the natural world, in particular the plant world is a definite thread we will explore as part of our collaborative process.

Our plan is to explore a range of media including weaving, photography/videography, data play and audio to develop a work for the festival. At this early point our ideas are free forming and will start of mesh over the weeks as we work together.

Image from Parihaka Puanga Kai Rau Festival 2019 event page on Facebook

After the festival we will spend some time with the More than Human Lab at Victoria University in Wellington and plan to present the work at the Thomas King Observatory.

About the festival
This is a FREE festival for the whole family.

FRIDAY 7 June 2019
5pm Pōwhiri – Te Niho o Te Atiawa
5.45pm Lighting of fire – Maara
6pm Kai – Te Paepae o Te Raukura
7.30pm Kōrero: Karanga – Kui Whakaarahia – Te Niho o Te Atiawa
8pm Kōrero: The Night Sky – Urs & Emily
8.30pm Kōrero: Karakia – Dr Ruakere Hond

SATURDAY 8 June 2019
6am Karanga Karakia – Pūrepo
7am Kai – Te Paepae o Te Raukura
7am Tai Chi – Takitutu – Tiki
8am Maara: Garden Working Bee
8am Koha Café Open – Te Niho o Te Atiawa
10.30am – 2pm Kidz Zone – Toroanui Marae
12md Maara – Kai
1pm Workshops – Te Niho o Te Atiawa TBC
5.30pm Kidz Singing Live
6.30pm Concert
After Session of Culture Vibes – Maara

SUNDAY 9 June 2019 – TWO YEARS POST RECONCILIATION
8am Breakfast
Pack Down – Stay and share the load
A guided walk around Parihaka
12md – Otinga o te ahi – Karakia extinguish the fire
Hoki ki te kāinga

More soon 🙂

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