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Patupaiarehe in Ruatorea

Art, music and magic set the night alight at the opening of Te Ara Patupaiarehe in Ruatorea last month as part of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.

Families, children and kaumātua were treated to illuminated artworks centred on the Ngāti Porou folklore of Manutahi patupaiarehe (forest fairies), who are guardians and kaitiaki of the forest and environment.

The forest fairy trail (Te Ara Patupaiarehe) is led by Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiu o Ngāti Porou, with support from Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Ngāti Porou Whanui Forests, Hoea! Gallery and Project Space and Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.

Works were developed by artists from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiu o Ngāti Porou, along with artworks by Tairāwhiti artists that featured in Te Ara i Whiti at Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival in October.

Around 500 participants attended three session times, walking or travelling by buggy, along the 600 metre track, enjoying the brilliant sculpture and kōrero (stories) sprinkled among the dense bush.

Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti community connector Rawinia Parata said the trail highlighted multiple talents.

“Te Ara Patupaiarehe was an extraordinary feat of collaboration highlighting culture, reo, art, technology, and community,” she said.

“As a community we are grateful to have received so much support and have been able to experience an event of this magnitude in our own backyard.

“To be able to celebrate the teachings of Nanny Kuini Moehau in a way that truly honours her and have our own tamariki explore their creativity through those teachings has been meaningful and significant.”

Festival chief executive and artistic director Tama Waipara said Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival was built on a solid kaupapa. “It is of the place and its people and celebrates the creative abundance of our region.”

“Supporting Te Ara Patupaiarehe, our aim has been to elevate our stories and the artists, share experiences and kōrero with the community — and make sure we provide a safe environment that is focused on whānau.”

People attending the event were treated to entertainment by local musicians Delia Harrison, Chad Chambers and DJ Bub Dewes, and were supported by Ngāti Porou Hauora who offered information and vaccinations.

The project team received positive sentiments from participants including one who said “seeing everyone moving up and down the hill, whānau, kids, pakeke, wowing at the art displays and lights, was incredibly uplifting. And our community so needed uplifting from the seriousness of Covid-19.”

Originally planned for October 2 but delayed due to Covid restrictions, Te Ara Patupaiarehe was presented as part of the 2021 Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival programme.

There are plans to create a permanent installation and walking trail. Head to www.patupaiarehe.nz to find out more.

DAY AND NIGHT: Guided by Erena Koopu's artwork, Pari kārangaranga, walkers made their way through the dense bush in Ruatorea. Pictures by Hillz Kahaki
GUIDED BY THE LIGHT: Te Ara Patupaiarehe was alight with stories of the supernatural retelling the tales of Ngāti Porou folklore.