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Lighting up the path to Matariki

ALIGHT: Nightclubbing by Melanie Tangaere Baldwin at Te Ara i Whiti 2021. Picture supplied

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is calling for expressions of interest for Te Ara i Whiti from artists who want to illuminate their work at this year’s Matariki show in June and July.

The light installation along the river has become a signature event for the festival and a focal point of contemporary Māori design.

Chief executive and artistic director Tama Waipara says that while it has been a challenging few years, the festival has moved “nimbly and purposefully” through the many iterations of restrictions and gathering-related complexities.

“Te Ara i Whiti provides a safe space for families and the community to engage with each other and enjoy a taste of the creativity our region has to offer.”

The riverbank comes alive with whānau out to experience the lights, to walk through the installations and to see and hear and taste the delights of our creative abundance.

Te Ara i Whiti will be held over June and July. Mr Waipara says he looks forward to the artists “unpacking” what Matariki represents to them.

“Matariki is a season that is marked and acknowledged in different ways across the country, both historically and as our nation grows a wider understanding of what that means,” he says.

“At a time when the weather is cooling and nights are darker earlier, it makes sense for us to reflect inward and take time to look up and out.”

The festival is calling for proposals from artists of Te Tairāwhiti who are interested in taking part in Te Ara i Whiti.

“The dynamic homegrown sculptural light installation has its foundation firmly planted in mātauranga Māori. Over the past three years, artists have woven ngā toi Māori into bold and adventurous forms to the delight of the thousands who have come to see the lights on the bank of the Taruheru River,” Mr Waipara says.

Proposals must be submitted by midday April 18 and will be considered by a panel including guest curator Melanie Tangaere-Baldwin, Mr Waipara and artist Erena Koopu.

To help artists who may not have completed an expression of interest before, a webinar will be run on Monday, April 11 at 5.30pm.

“It’s a chance to unpack the administrative side of things and open it out for those who are keen,” says Mr Waipara.

For more information about the webinar and application, visit tetairawhitiartsfestival.nz