'Sandman' showcases collaborative live-art experience of te ao Māori

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Ngā Tohu o te Taiao is a thought-provoking live art experience that weaves together stories of kōanga and maramataka through various mediums including pūrākau, pūoro, and even onepū or sand.

The experience is an acknowledgement to all of the seasons – not just Matariki, but also a showcase of all tohu within te ao Māori.

Marcus Winter is (Te Roroa, Ngāpuhi) known as ‘The Sandman’ for his unique form of storytelling through live sand art, and he's one of the performers at the annual Kōanga Festival led by Te Pou Theatre.

Alongside him at the festival will be his good friend Rikki Solomon, who brings mātauranga Māori expertise, and Jerome Pūoro, who brings pūoro to life inside the live art experience. Together, Winter wants people who experience it to absorb mātauranga Māori in a unique way.


Painting pictures and telling stories through sand.

“Imagine if Rikki was standing there talking about his mātauranga and imagine Jerome doing his pūoro. Imagine if I was behind writing up all the visuals,” Winter says.

Starting art in the streets is where Winter learned his craft could be of entertainment. It’s also how he caught the attention of friend Richard Jefferey, who got him to do sand art. Winter credits it as “someone seeing some potential in me to have a crack”.

“That’s the thing that I absolutely love about this medium: when I found it, I realised that I could tell any story about anything, from any culture, country, whenever there’s a narrative to be told.

“I’ve done things around treaty settlements and New Zealand history, land wars – anywhere that there is a story. The things that I am passionate about is being able to revitalise some of that mātauranga, whether that be through pūrākau or through the things that we are doing right now.”

Anyone wanting to see the 60-minute experience can do so at the Basement Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau at 6:30pm on September 29, 30 and October 1.