Thursday, March 04, 2010

Land of the Long White Cloud

I arrived in Aotearoa / New Zealand yesterday: I'm a guest of Creative New Zealand at the International Arts Festival in Wellington. The flight into the city was amazing: a clear summer's day, with a view over the South Island, complete with the Southern Alps stretching into the distance. The city doesn't feel like a capital - it's a sunny, relaxed space by a harbour, with virtually everything within walking distance. The perfect Festival city, in fact.

I'm typing this at the Te Papa Museum, where I've just met up with the Maori Director Arapata Hakiwai. He's very excited about Origins, and we talk about ways of collaborating in the future. This museum is built on Maori ideas - there's a marae, which is used very frequently, with ceremony being integrated into the use of the building. Some of the artists I already know, like Lisa, have their own contemporary readings of traditional architecture built into the fabric of the space. It even has holy stones buried in its foundations, and is lined up to the sea in an appropriate way for welcoming guests and the dawn ceremony of Matariki. Arapata tells me he's been in Chicago recently, advising on the placing of a marae in the museum there, and that this space is now being used for tribal councils by Native American groups!

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