Of The Arts
The first Maori Festival of the Arts ever to be held took place last December at Ngaruawahia, in the historic setting of Mahinarangi meeting-house at Turangawaewae marae. Organized in conjunction with the centennial celebrations at Ngaruawahia, it
Photography by Ans Westra
The Ngaruawahia Civic Choir, conducted by Charles Ingram, sang hymns during a combined Pakeha-Maori church service held at Turangawaewae during the Festival.
Mahinarangi, with its elaborate carvings and its many mementos and reminders of past history, made a striking background for an exhibition of contemporary art which included work by the sculptors Arnold Wilson and Para Matchitt and the painter Selwyn Muru, who are among the most promising younger artists working in New Zealand today. There was also a most interesting exhibition of gourds by the artist Theo Schoon, the only Pakeha artist invited to exhibit work. Mr Schoon, who for many years has made an exhaustive study of Maori art, being especially well known for his copies of rock shelter paintings and for his more recent interest in the cultivation and decoration of Maori gourds (pu-te-hue), also gave a memorable lecture on these subjects. Another exhibition, featuring original paintings by Goldie and Lindauer and early prints of the Waikato, both contrasted with and complemented the modern work exhibited.
A Varied Programme
A poetry-reading, also held in Mahinarangi, included readings of their own poetry by Hone Tuwhare, who writes in English, and Rangi Harrison, who writes in Maori. Dr Douglas Sinclair read translations of some of the traditional songs and histories in his extensive collection.
Two concerts were run in conjunction with the Festival. One featured the well-known singers Hannah Tatana, Kiri Te Kanawa, Diana Winterburn and Michael McGifford together with the Hamilton String Players, and the other presented popular music by the Howard Morrison Quartet and local Waikato talent.
The Festival was in all ways an outstanding success. Organised with efficiency and enthusiasm, and almost entirely on a voluntary basis, it presented to an appreciative audience an impressive selection of Maori talent, providing a vantage point from which to view the achievements both of the past and the present. It gave also a glimpse of the future; for no-one who attended it could doubt the size of the contribution which young people such as these will increasingly make to the developing culture of their country.