A gathering by the three rivers
Staged, conducted, performed — the concept of Maui Putahi, Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival’s opening event — is as fluid as the confluence of the three rivers it is set by.
Held tomorrow at the Marine Reserve close to where the Taruheru, Waimata and Turanganui rivers flow into one another, Maui Putahi is described as “part performance, part ceremony, part interactive experience”.
“As an opening event I didn’t want bright lights and sparkly things,” says Teina Moetara, artist and creative director of Maui Putahi.
“There is a ritual embedded in Maui Putahi, a marrying of protocol.”
Maui Putahi moves through four phases. The first is the gathering, an invitation or orientation. The Kai Food Festival, that starts a little earlier, on Reads Quay will herald this. Conversation and reflection comprises the next phase.
“This will be done in pop-up performances where we honour and celebrate Gisborne artists on different stages.”
As dusk closes in, a performance element in the third phase brings people closer to the story of Maui Putahi while the final phase marks the descent of Maui which references the Scorpio constellation. The tail of the constellation is, in Maori mythology Maui’s fish-hook and was also a key navigation tool. As Maui descends in the fourth phase, Matariki (Pleiades) rises and signifies a time of growth and new beginnings, says Moetara. This is shown as the light installation Te Ara I Whiti, The Light Trail, created by artists Tai Kerekere, Kaatarina Kerekere and Simon Lardelli comes to life. As Maui Putahi comes to a close the lights remain on for the 12 days of the arts festival.
While Putahi refers to the confluence of the three rivers, and the gathering, the meeting, of people, Maui is a little more conceptual. Maui is an agent provocateur, says Moetara. Ma means “clarity” while ui translates to “question”.
“Maui Putahi references the deeper parts of Maui we don’t speak about,” says Moetara.
“There are common stories around Maui but I don’t think the mainstream understands the depth of those stories. Everyone has something of Maui in them.”
“Maui provokes to get clarity about something. That’s what an artist’s role is. Maui Putahi is a celebration of the arts. If you’re born in, or live in, Tairawhiti, by proxy you have some of those qualities. Fundamentally Maui Putahi is a celebration of who we are as artists.
“I want to come back to the hearth, where we celebrate the process, not just the product. I want to celebrate who we are as people.
Maui Putahi is not something for people to “consume”, says Moetara.
“It’s about people following their curiosity. That’s what Maui is about. Follow your synchronicity, follow your instinct.”
Maui Putahi, Marina Park, tomorrow 5.30pm-8.30pm. Free.