Reo Whakahaere - Q's Maori Reference Group

Q’s Maori Reference Group has informed both artistic and operational matters throughout construction and provided feedback on the design of the building as it relates to the heritage of the location and to its creative requirements.

Founding members of the Reo Whakahaere include Ngarimu Blair, Pita Turei no Ngai Tai ki Tamaki me Taranaki, Mei Hill no Ngati Whatua, Kaipara ki te Tonga, Tamati Patuwai no Ngati Whatua Tuturu, Nicola Kawana no Ngati Kahungunu, Teresa Brown no Ngati Whatua, Lisa Davis no Ngati Whatua. The Reo Whakahaere initial facilitator is Stephen Bradshaw no Pare Hauraki Ngati Maru. The current facilitator is Teresa Brown no Ngati Whatua.

Tirohia atu te Pane-o-Horoiwi

Whakapukepuke whakatikitiki ki waho ra

He Tikitiki he Kawau he Kawau he Tikitiki

Ka heke ki Tahuna Torea

He Tikitiki he Kawau he Kawau he Tikitiki

Ka eke ka eke ki te Waitemata - tihei mauriora!

Q’s Maori Reference Group has informed both artistic and operational matters throughout construction and provided feedback on the design of the building as it relates to the heritage of the location and to its creative requirements.

Cultural Significance of the Site

In 1840 Ngati Whatua, gifted 3,500 acres of whenua to Pakeha to establish Auckland city with the hope then and now for alliance and partnership with all things to do with the city. The Q Theatre building site is located in a valley known as Horotiu. This name also refers to the stream that ran through the valley and flowed into the Waitemata harbor (Te Wai o Horotiu).

The Hui / 21stJanuary 2009

On the 21st January 2009 Q, alongside Ngati Whatua o Orakei, hosted a hui at Te Whare Matoro, Maunga Whau. The kaupapa of the hui was to make initial contact with Tangata Whenua, including Iwi and Maori performing artists, with a view to forming a relationship and engaging long-term with Maori.

Some significant take gave the hui a level of importance:

  1. The first gathering of Maori theatre artists since the passing of Don Selwyn and Wi Kuki Kaa - their wairua was acknowledged and felt.
  2. The first Maori theatre hui hosted by Mana Whenua Iwi, Ngati Whatua o Orakei.
  3. Q’s genuine desire to engage with Maori for the well-being of the new theatre.

As a result of the hui the following Nga Tutohutanga (recommendations) were put forward:

  1. That a Maori Reference Group (Reo Whakahaere) be established to contribute to the building design.
  2. A facilitator be financially supported to deliver a series of hui.
  3. That design team members can, at appropriate times, meet with the Reo Whakahaere.
  4. Reo Whakahaere is inclusive and welcomes Maori practitioners who were unable to attend to contribute to future hui. Reo Whakahaere is open to Q representatives attending with the clear understanding that some hui may be for Maori attendance only.

Since the first gathering the Reo Whakahaere Group has made valuable contributions to the Q project and Reo Whakahaere are proud to be involved in what has proved to be an effective forward looking initiative that listens and has engaged with Tangata Whenua so well. Members of Reo Whakahaere believe that the reference group model would support other arts and cultural projects and organisations. Stephen Bradshaw the facilitator has gathered hui notes, recommendations and concepts to further develop Maori theatre practice and forming of important networks amongst a diverse Maori population. Reo Whakahaere has expressed hopes to support Q in an ongoing manner that positively grows Tangata Whenua aspirations and embodies the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Those who attended the initial hui in January 2009 were Ngarimu Blair (Ngati Whatua o Orakei Cultural & Environmental manager),  Andrew Caisley (Chair Q Theatre Board), Susanne Ritzenhoff (Q Theatre General Manager), Tim Dowson ( Q Theatre), Pip Cheshire (Architect of Q Theatre), Raukura Turei (Architect assistant), Lisa Davis (Auckland City Council Community Arts Coordinator Maori), Jane Hakaraia ( Lighting designer), Tamati Patuwai (Actor, Writer) Blair Strang ( Lawyer, Actor), Tainui Tukiwaho (Writer, Actor, Smack Bang Theatre Co.), Pita Turei (Ngati Paoa,Nga Aho Whakaari Executive Officer), Dolina Wehipeihana (Atamira Dance Collective Creative Producer, Dancer), Noa Campbell (Actor, Director), Teresa Brown (Formerly Actors Equity). Stephen Bradshaw (Toi Maori Aotearoa Contemporary Performance) was the facilitator and Mei Hill (Arts facilitator, Visual artist) was the scribe for the gathering.

Nga Pikitanga - Achievements and Outcomes

Rangimarie – A Visual Artwork for Q Theatre / April 2009

One of the first achievements by Reo Whakahaere, Ngati Whatua o Orakei and Q staff was the commissioning of a major artwork by a Maori contemporary artist which is integral to the building and marks the transition from the foyer to the auditorium.

In April 2009, 6 Maori artists were approached to design and present their concept. A selection panel assessed the concept designs and selected the most appropriate work according to innovation, practicality, relation to Rangimarie (an ancestress and performer of Maunga Kiekie and Kaipara) and how audiences will view and understand the work.

Artist, Lisa Reihana’s concept design was successful and was developed into a final detailed design, manufacture and installation prior to the 2011 opening. The funding support for this project has come from Te Waka Toi CNZ with an application by Mei Hill, Auckland City Council Public art fund and Q. Stephen Bradshaw project managed the process.

This artwork was one recommendation from a document that listed a number of initiatives around the architectural design of the whare that would focus, Whakapa (history), Te Taiao (the natural environment), Kawa (customary practice) and Tikanga (contemporary ritual).

The Artwork Dedication

The MRG have identified Tanerore as an Atua (Deity) for the house and Rangimarie as the Tupuna (Ancestor) for the people. The energy of Tanerore will be displayed by the use of light throughout the building. The ancestor Rangimarie was a dancer choreographer of Maunga Kiekie and Kaipara.

She lived in a dramatic period of tribal conflicts and was a high born wahine of the Nga Oho tribe who was to be married into the Wai o Hua dynasty. With information of a potential assassination during her wedding ceremony, Rangimarie performed a dance that warned her people and they escaped and were cared for by Rangimarie in a nearby cave until they were able to escape back to the Kaipara area.

“The characteristics of Rangimarie are similar to the Q Theatre mission to have courage, to be unique and to strive for excellence and this has created a synergy and outcomes for the way we are working between Q and the MRG” states Stephen Bradshaw, facilitator of the MRG.

Whakanoa Q Theatre Site Blessing / 4thNovember 2009

The Reo Whakahaere and Q worked with Auckland City Council to arrange a dawn ceremony that blessed the site of the new theatre by Ngati Whatua o Orakei Kaumatua (elders), Matua Takutai Wikiriwhi and Matt Maihi. The blessing marked the start of pre-works for the theatre. The Mayor of Auckland City, John Banks, spoke along with Andrew Caisley from the Q Board. Representatives from Q’s other major supporters, ASB Community Trust and the Lottery Grants Board, Iwi and Maori performing artists were also in attendance.

Following the blessing guests gathered in the Town Hall for breakfast where Ngarimu Blair gave background to the Reo Whakahaere, explained the process of the Rangimarie project and publically announced the winner of the kaupapa, Lisa Reihana. Lisa presented her winning design work with the five other artists’ concepts on display.

Auckland Performing Arts Forum / 2009 and 2010

Tamati Patuwai commenced and closed the annual Performing Arts Forum with karakia and mihi. Tamati notes that “Tikanga is a way we can tautoko wider events that Q are involved in and the forum is a great space for exploring the dynamics of Maori performance.” Tamati with other Maori theatre practitioners will advise the Forums steering group and participate in future forums.

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