I had Sunday brunch with James from Taki Rua. The first of many old friendships to be rekindled here (and new ones to be made). James got married last week - so I feel a bit guilty at bringing him out on a Sunday morning, until I listen in on the rush of phone calls he gets. Taki Rua have a new show opening at the Festival, which I'm seeing on the 14th. It's called Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland. James is very open about it being at a comparatively early stage of its development- and that's certainly something I know about! Work which is created collectively - and that can include work with a writer - inevitably takes longer than work which is "finished", at least in terms of script, before rehearsals begin. We started Orientations in 2003, and I still wouldn't call it anywhere near "finished". But who wants a show to be finished anyway? That just means it's dead - and in theatre, the liveness is the point! I'm happy to say that Carla from Creative New Zealand is in total agreement. A rare thing from a funder...!
Today, with CNZ's other international guests, I was welcomed onto the marae at Victoria University. This welcoming ceremony, or powhiri, was familiar to me from the Opening Ceremony at Origins - but no less moving for that. Indeed, to be welcomed into a magnificent Maori house on the land itself with some knowledge of the protocols made it doubly moving.
After the ceremony, we were given lunch (a crucial part of the welcome), and then a series of talks about the meaning of Maori art in relation to its cultural context. Good to see the "buyers" being given a bit of context. If we just export the work without a sense of where its roots are, then it's just exotica. My old chums Hone Kouka and Miria George are there, and Hone talks about Maori theatre. I also get to meet Moss Patterson from Atamira, whose work I'll finally see in the flesh tomorrow, and the legendary Richard Nunns, who has almost single-handedly rediscovered the traditions of Maori music. Te Papa has some of his instruments on display, as well as an incredible sound installation to accompany its exhibition of green-stone carving. Today Richard performed a piece for traditional Maori instruments and string quartet. The NZ Quartet played music which was influenced by the sound of whales - while Richard played a series of instruments carved from whale-bone. In the marae, this was an incredible experience.