Staff picks: Māori art and culture we've been enjoying
Inspired by Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, we wanted to provide you with a roundup of creative work by indigenous artists that the team at Consumer NZ has recently been enjoying.
A Bathful of Kawakawa and Hot Water: Selected Writings by Hana Pera Aoake
I was gifted Hana Pera Aoake's book A Bathful of Kawakawa and Hot Water: Selected Writings by a close friend for a birthday. It took me a long time to read it. I'm one of those procrastinators who also puts off things they know they'll enjoy. When I finally got around to reading it, I was immediately captivated by the style.
Hana is able to convey individual feelings and expressions with cultural and collective ones in such a beautifully harmonious way. The connections Hana makes between Māori culture (past and present, spiritual and physical) and modern experiences are truly inspiring. Their work is incredibly relatable to me, as a young Māori, and I think it would be to others who wish to learn more about Aotearoa's culture and people. I will need to reread it this month.
Hana Pera Aoake (Ngaati Hinerangi, Ngaati Raukawa, Ngaati Mahuta, Tainui-Waikato, Ngaati Waewae) is an artist and writer living in Waikouaiti.
Imogen, Community Journalist | Kaihaurapa Kōrero Hapori
Māori Side Steps
These guys are THE best Māori musical showband. They perform skits and songs, often in parody and about the issues arising from colonisation in New Zealand. My favourite song is “Whaka whaka whakawhanaungatanga” (to the tune of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”), but the best part about them is that they're hilarious, gorgeous, intelligent, cheeky, wonderful people. If you can ever see them live, you absolutely should.
The Māori Sidesteps are a New Zealand musical and performance group founded by Jamie McCaskill (Ngāti Tamaterā).
Abby, Communications & Campaigns Adviser | Kaiāwhina Whakapā me ngā Kaupapa
in Pursuit of Venus by Lisa Reihana
I was mesmerised when I saw Lisa Reihana’s in Pursuit of Venus at Te Papa. This panoramic video is an interpretation of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique by Joseph Dufour, a French artist who painted landscape scenes. The work is like a slow-moving wallpaper and, at first glance, is reminiscent of so many popular colonial artworks of the 1800s that take interest in the “exotic” of the Pacific.
Two centuries later, Reihana’s interpretation is darker, considering cultural identity and the effects of colonisation. Not only did this work make me reconsider my exposure to colonial art, but it also made me reconsider my perceptions of video art as “fine art” and how it absolutely holds a place alongside other more traditional formats like painting and sculpture.
You can watch in Pursuit of Venus or keep an eye out for it at a gallery near you, as it is something else to see it large scale and as intended.
Lisa Reihana (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tūteauru) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work encompasses film, sculpture, costume and body adornment, text and photography.
Gemma, Head of Research & Advocacy | Upoko Rangahau me te Kōkiringa
Troy Kingi is a national taonga. I’m a bit of a gig pig and have been lucky to go to many concerts of all shapes and sizes. But one that sticks in my mind was Troy Kingi at the legendary San Francisco Bathhouse in Wellington. New Zealand audiences can be comparatively restrained, but not that night. It was between lockdowns, and everyone had been cooped up, so there was a lot of pent-up energy in both the audience and the musicians, which all came together as a sweaty raucous good time.
Paul, Powerswitch Manager | Kaiwhakahaere Powerswitch
I stumbled upon Mara TK's Electric Wire Hustle at Cuba Street Festival many years ago and fell in love. The son of legendary guitarist Billy TK (aka the "Māori Jimi Hendrix"), with a voice distinctly reminiscent of Marvin Gaye, Mara has quietly built a career as one of Aotearoa's most essential musical forces. From Electric Wire Hustle's avant-garde 'future soul' to collaborations with modern New Zealand music legends like Hollie Smith, Avantdale Bowling Club, Troy Kingi, and Rob Ruha, Mara has had a hand in some of the most soulful sounds coming out of Aotearoa.
Released in 2021, Mara TK's first solo LP Bad Meditation is - funnily enough - a meditation on being Māori in modern Aotearoa, with one sonic foot in the past and one in the future. Most recently, he has launched a record label - Meetinghouse Records - which aims to release indigenous music that will inspire generations to come: "f*cking killer records that have spiritual and cultural heft", in Mara's words.
Mara Te Kahika (TK for short) was born in Auckland in the mid-1980s with Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu and Tainui ancestry.
Frank, Digital Experience Manager | Kaiwhakahaere Wheako Matihiko
Coco Reo Māori by Matewa Media and Pixar Animation Studios
My classmates and I watched Coco Reo Māori in Pari-ā-Rua (Porirua) this year. The kiriata (movie) is a Māori version of Disney’s and Pixar’s animated feature Coco. Matewa Media and Pixar Animation Studios released Coco Reo Māori on 13 July 2023 in Aotearoa just in time for the Matariki public holiday, which was celebrated on 14 July this year.
Set in the Mexican town of Santa Cecilia, the plot mostly follows Miguel, the great-great-great-grandson of Imelda. Miguel dreams of becoming a musician, like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. The movie is a celebration of waiata (music), the Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos traditions (also known as “the Day of the Dead”), whānau (family), and manaakitanga (kindness, support).
It was beautiful to hear the mix of te reo Māori and Pāniora (Spanish). The movie is also a wonderful celebration of the mita (dialect) of Te Tai Rāwhiti (East Coast of the North Island). It features the magnificent voices of the likes of Mānuera Mānihera (Ngāti Wai, Muriwhenua, Ngāpuhi) as Miguel, Kuini Moehau Reedy (Ngāti Porou) as Abuelita, and Troy Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) as Héctor.
Matewa Media has translated five Disney films into te reo Māori. You can watch Frozen, The Lion King and Moana on Disney+.
Elizabeth, Legal Adviser | Kaiāwhina Ture