Te Tairāwhiti Arts Fest promises unique East Coast experience

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is on the horizon. Festival director Tama Waipara says it's an avenue for the arts to further flourish on the East Coast. 

"They're not just coming to see a show, or sit in a seat in a theatre, they're coming to participate in a place and learn about who we are here, learn about our stories and try and have space for provocation, for reflection, for remembrance and for fun," says Waipara.

The festival will host some of the biggest names in the industry, but also provide a platform for local talent.

"There are free concerts, there are kite days, there are paid gigs, people like Rob Ruha, Maisey Rika, Annie Crummer, Dave Dobbyn, Teeks, Anika Moa ... a theatre show that's being created around Henare Waitoa by his grandsons, Hone Kouka and Hohepa Waitoa."

Art installations will be created by local and visiting artists in specific spaces, from theatres to public places; the festival strives to present a unique East Coast experience and make it accessible to all.

"I hope they see some of themselves, I mean there will be a lot of people actually participating in it so they'll see a lot of themselves in that sense, but just that there is something recognisably Tairāwhiti in the bigger scheme of things." 

Waipara hopes the festival will grow and develop into the future and that "more and more people come on and take up the reins in telling their artistic selves in this landscape and that we do what we can to provide the best possible platform for that to happen."

The Tairāwhiti Festival takes place from the 4th-20th of October.