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Art + Activism + Aroha = The River Talks, an environmental symposium which will see Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira representing all three elements at Ruapotaka Marae, Glen Innes next Monday.   

The 2016 cohort of Level 3 and 4 Māori Performing Arts programmes have been rehearsing solidly over the last four weeks to stage their upcoming work “Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au” as part of this year’s conference opening.   

The theatre piece, devised to tautoko the three-day noho, contains monologues from “Remembrance” a play written in 2014 by the Level 4 C.M.P.A/ Māori Theatre kaiako William Davis. 

These scripted monologues are mixed with kapa haka items choreographed by Aaron Henare, the kaiako for the Level 3 Kāwai Raupapa Performing Arts programme.   

William says utilising tikanga Māori with and within all its diversity, knowledge and practice and then marrying it with the discipline of dramatic theatrical performance is what makes these performing arts programmes so exciting and unique.   

“It’s an indigenous, contemporary and dynamic storytelling practice. Telling our indigenous stories, our way, and sharing it with all peoples of this world in adherence to tikanga Māori,” he says. 

Tauira Huia Apiata says she is thankful for the opportunity despite the exhaustion. 

“It’s satisfying to see this and know that this is our potential as a whānau and class. I’m slowly feeling more when I go through the script. It’s an amazing piece of work, words can’t explain how I felt when I was reading.” 

The conference theme this year is “Healing Ecologies: Our creative mind and medicine.” And as well as local presenters and art practitioners, there are global guests too such as Dr Baron Cohen who has worked alongside Amazon tribes.    

The River Talks is the initiative of Mad Ave, a community group who developed a calling around five years ago to clean up the polluted Omaru River running through their Glen Innes rohe.  

Director Tamati Patuwai says the key success of the project is that it uses the power of the arts along with scientific research to uplift inspire and transform communities, cultural ecological practices and identity.   

“There have been many beneficial outcomes from this work. Hundreds of local residents, young and old have participated in various ways. Our project has been the catalyst for the planting of 10,000 native species to begin the healing and restoration of this sacred river.”   

The show, Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au starts at 6.30pm next Monday, April 18 at Ruapotaka Marae - 106 Line Road Glen Innes. Entry is free.

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Article By: Carly Tawhiao



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