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Kia Mau Festival

Kia Mau Festival
4 Jun 2021 to 19 Jun 2021
4 - 19 June 2021
Event type: 
Dance, Multidisciplinary, Theatre
Wellington Region
Online, Wellington


Kia Mau Festival
4-19 June
Te Ūpoko o Te Ika a Maui (Wellington Region)

Returning with a 16-day programme of inspiring and dynamic Māori, Pasifika & Global Indigenous live performance, the sixth ever Kia Mau Festival is proud to announce its full 2021 programme. 
Packed with art forms that encompass the complexity of the live experience, Kia Mau champions the power of Indigenous artistry. From the experimental and genre bending, to a new wave of choreographers presenting new work, to the fierce theatre of an award-winning playwright and director, to an epic night of political-comic genius; local Wellington Artists, alongside guests from Tāmaki Makaurau celebrate their voices with more than 100 performances spread across 16 days.

“Kia Mau Festival is about whanaungatanga - binding together our creative community - all across the whenua of Te Ūpoko o te Ika a Maui,” says Artistic Director Hone Kouka. “In many ways, this is our most personal festival yet, as in the wake of Covid, we look strongly towards home. We welcome our artists home to be seen, giving us more visibility and connection with whānau and our identity.”

WellingtonNZ Chief Executive John Allen says Kia Mau has the vision to transform the Wellington region into a global centre for Indigenous theatre and dance. “WellingtonNZ is proud to support Kia Mau and can’t wait to see the collective presence of Maori, Pasifika and global Indigenous artists on the stage in the creative capital.”

Through conversations between Hone and longtime collaborator, cultural and creative leader, Hone Hurihanganui (Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou), the festival has been crafted and gifted names to each weekend. Te Pikitanga (ascension) evokes a space and time of enlightenment and contentment - reflected in works in the World Premiere of All I See. Created by award winning artist Cian Parker, this poignant tale about the sudden loss of a partner is darkly humorous, beautifully confronting, raw, and most of all human. The aftermath of the death of a parent is explored in the return season of The Mourning After. Written and directed by 2020 Arts Foundation Laureate, Ahi Karunaharan, this is a moving tale about love, loss and life reclaimed in Sri Lanka after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Actor, Jehangir Homazavir, delivers a spellbinding solo performance accompanied by a live trio of South Asian musicians.

The second wave of the festival launches midweek and lands Te Ekenga (arrival), as if our artists and audiences alike have arrived upon the marae ātea. Pivotal to Te Eketanga is paying tribute to the celebrated Nancy Brunning, as she arrives to her creative home, Pōneke, with her final work Witi’s Wāhine. Weaving together an exhibition, film screening, excerpt performances of her most famous monologues by the next generation of Māori actors, and a silent disco of Nancy’s favourite playlists - this is a vivid tribute. Witi’s Wāhine is directed by Waimihi Hotere, a production that features powerfully crafted excerpts from Witi Ihimaera's collection of short stories and novels, plays at Te Whaea from 10-13 June.

The third and final weekend of the festival centres around Te Taunga, inspired by the moment one has landed after flying for some time. For the very first time, Kia Mau Festival welcomes music into its programme. The World Premiere of Teremoana Rapley’s Daughter paints a portrayal of a Black Moana Sovereign Story. Live visuals coupled with bottom-heavy tracks interwoven with sweet acoustic flamenco inspired folk songs make this a must see. Kia Mau also features the Block Party at Toi Pōneke; a new musical work by Pati Umanga, TAUA O LE PEPEVE'A; and the release of MAA’s debut album Breakfast with Hades - straight out of her makeshift, multi-purpose bedroom studio.
Other shows programmed in the festival include the world premiere of Scotty Cotter’s Neke; the Wellington premiere of UPU; Atamira Dance Company’s 21st anniversary performance of Te Wheke; new contemporary dance collective, TULOU, present TINĀ; and Rawiri Paratene’s swan song performance of Peter Paka Paratene at TE PAPA and the Beehive. The world famous in Aotearoa, The Māori Sidesteps, will also take to the stage for one night only on June 9 at the Opera House.

Now a biennial festival Kia Mau is a call to hold fast. Kia Mau is about us all. Here. Now.

Written by

Vanessa Immink

12 May 2021