Toi Matarau at Māoriland Film Festival 2021

Te ihi me te mana a ngā taonga tuku iho

Reflecting on such an awesome event, the Māoriland Film Festival of 2021 was a great opportunity and pleasure to see Toi Matarau artists and their whānau flourish and bloom one year out from COVID-19’s lockdown on Aotearoa.

Witnessing toi Māori find their new kaitiaki (caregivers) and homes is an honour and a privilege to facilitate.  There is something precious for everyone in our humble wharetoi, committed to creating joy with every experience encountered.  Nearly everyone who has visited previously has noticed how the space has transformed in a very fluid way with construction and space sharing taking place with the numerous projects being undertaken since coming out of lockdown.  Each transformation brings new experiences but the mauri only deepens and vibrates stronger with the massive amount of creativity that takes place in the whare.

Toi Matarau is synergised with the weaving expertise of Pip Devonshire (Ngāti Raukawa) and kuia Sonia Snowden (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whātua),  our Ngā Aho whenua Residents located in the Wharepora.  They are onsite most days and always enjoy visits from manuhiri; kaumātua and the curious.  Often other weavers visit as well bringing their weaving projects to work on amidst hearty conversation.  Their presence at the film festival was warmly received as the profile of their work and space becomes more current and relative to the moment we are all living in.

Weavers Pip Devonshire & Sonia Snowden
Weavers Pip Devonshire & Sonia Snowden

On a special auspicious note, Norm Heke (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu, Te Arawa) one of our Toi Iho ™ licenced artists, photographer and filmmaker won the People’s Choice Award for his short film ‘Wakahourua’ (Making of the Tairāwhiti Voyaging Canoe).  Featured in the ‘Wai Shorts’ film collection, Norm attended with his whānau.  Self-funded, Norm is inspired by this acknowledgement to continue with other films he has in mind.  Kua huri te kei o tōna waka!

Spontaneity, things roll this way from time to time at Māoriland as is the ebb and flow of any ocean or river.  The carvers of Te Matatoki returned for the film festival, led by Fayne Robinson (Te Arawa, Kai Tahu), Ian-Wayne Grant (Te Arawa), Jason Hina (Ngāti Raukawa) and Ephraim Russell (Kai Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) who continued with the carving of a waka tete.  An opportunity presented with the completion of a striking public mural by Ephraim.  Designed to enhance the external front face of the gallery and the Māoriland refurbishment of our whare, Ephraim’s signature kaupapa ‘tānikohia te ao’ can be sited in many communities around the motu, Ōtaki is now on that map!  A perfect enhancement of taonga tuku iho uplifting the wharepora of the Ngā Aho Whenua Residency and the people of Ōtaki.

Te ihi me te mana a ngā taonga tuku iho is manifested by the aroha, manaakitinga and kaitiakitanga of tūpuna, offered by ART Rongoā led by Hemaima Carkeek (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toarangatira, Te Ātiawa).  A line up of delectable rongoā shots were a treat for Red Carpet folks who got to sample the goodness of locally harvested ingredients made into mocktails as a medicinal concoction of wairua, hinengaro, tīnana and whānau. 

As takeaways, lots of visitors also got to experience rongoā Māori during the film festival weekend by ‘Made With Aroha’ – a mother and son whānau business by Christina Te Kira.  Oils, hopi, panipani, sprays, teas, tinctures and many other self-care products for the whole whānau.

Toi Matarau Gallery at Māoriland Hub
Toi Matarau Gallery at Māoriland Hub

A huge shout out to all the ringatoi – the artists for continuing to support Toi Matarau in it’s growth and goals to promote and uplift social and economic well-being through Māori and Indigenous Art.  The calibre and quality keeps wowing the crowds and buyers as much as the team at Māoriland.  Toi Matarau is vibrant, textured and layered with the aroha, mauri and wairua of artists dedicated to their creative practices with all of their stories embedded with each creation.  

New artist’s welcomed in to the gallery are; Natasha Keating (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Haunui a Pāparangi, Ngāi Tūhoe), Chani Areaiiti (Kai Tahu, Ngāi Tūhoe, Mangaia), clothing brand OTAKLUV by Katera & Lance Rikihana-Tukerangi (Ngāti Raukawa), kaiwhakairo Wirihana Kiriona (Ngāti Raukawa), Toi Iho ™ weaver Karl Leonard (Te Arawa, Ngāti Raukawa), a selection of kauapapa Māori pukapuka by Te Tākupu of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, men’s skin and beard products by Graham Watson & Lorna Tawhiti (Ngāi Te Rangi, Waikato Tainui) and HORI streetwear by Hohepa & Mia Thompson (Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairarapa) of Hori Gallery to name a few.  

A special acknowledgement must be given to volunteers Elaine Bevan and Ariana Summers who got stuck in and weathered the challenges of ticketing, retail of merchandise and toi Māori during such hectic times.  Graceful and hardworking they saved our backsides holding down double shifts with big smiles.

However the success of Toi Matarau cannot continue without the genuine eagerness of our community, local businesses and the many visitors drawn to Ōtaki, Māoriland and our gallery.  Your support is very meaningful and benefits many people, ngā mihi!

The annual Toi Matarau Exhibition closes May 20th and opening hours are Mon-Sat 11-4pm.  The next major exhibition, just around the corner is Matariki, announcements to be made soon.

Mauri tū, mauri ora!