Celebrating the future of indigenous art in Pōneke
Updated: Jun 6
6 June 2023
Te Rākau Kaitohu and Kia Mau Festival Board Member, Jim Moriarty, welcomes the seventh iteration of the indigenous arts celebration.
Long-time stage and screen artist, Jim Moriarty, has deep roots in Pōneke.
His Ngāti Toa ancestors occupied great stretches of the coast and harbour around Wellington, and filled the whenua with generations of stories. Jim says he hopes stories like these will find new life as part of the seventh iteration of Kia Mau, the indigenous arts festival led by Tawata Productions’ Hone Kouka and Mīria George. “More and more these days, I see my journey as strengthening the opportunities for iwi to tell their stories and heal intergenerational trauma through creative expression,” says Jim.
“Kia Mau has always been a space where Māori can tell their whakapapa stories. As we mature as a nation, these special places are how we share our stories with each other and the world.
“Huge congratulations are in order for the organisers, and all the indigenous brothers and sisters sharing their work as part of this year’s celebration.”
Growing indigenous talent worldwide
Jim’s governance role as a Board Member for the Kia Mau Festival leads him to reflect on the experiences of tangata whenua in Aotearoa, and the shared experiences of manuhiri bringing their own indigenous histories to the stage in Pōneke this winter. “You simply can’t stop the desire for indigenous people to come together and express themselves. The journey of emancipation is common to us all,” says Jim. “Hone and Mīria created this space to nurture and grow those stories here in Pōneke, and now they are taking the Māori performing arts perspective to the world.” “As well as supporting creators in Aotearoa at all stages of their careers – emerging practitioners to senior professionals – Kia Mau has given a lot of international artists the chance to come and share their work. It’s a win-win.”
A festival for the future
“It’s a really exciting line-up this year – every production is unique and boutique. The festival only gets stronger each year,” says Jim. “With COVID-19 the creative community had to re-think how we connect with audiences. Kia Mau is leading with its Moana Nui offering, bringing the live performance experience online.” Jim predicts the momentum of Māori performing arts will keep rolling, and is excited to see how the creative industry can have positive impacts on community wellbeing – a kaupapa at the heart of his work with Te Rākau.
“The question in my heart, the question I ask of any Māori creative endeavour, is always this: how can this creative work support the liberation of whānau Māori in Aotearoa today?” says Jim.
“The health, education and social service sectors are all seeing early benefits from shared decision-making and responsibility with iwi Māori – now film, TV, radio, creative arts has to follow too. “Healing and justice is so often at the heart of indigenous art. I’m excited to see how the next generation of creatives use their talents to support the emancipation of their people.”