Wellington Maori Arts Festival
From its opening, by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Mr J. R. Hanan, the Maori Arts Festival held in Wellington from 8–16 April was a great success. The Governor-General, Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson, although unable to attend, was delighted to act as Patron, wished the Festival every success and expressed his confidence in a ‘happy and resounding outcome’.
Festival President was the originator, Mr Arthur Cornish of the New Zealand Display Centre, who with Mr J. McEwen and Revd K. Ihaka made up the small organising committee. Many others took part in convening various activities during the festival, and probably the most lasting memory for those involved will be the friendliness and co-operation shown by individuals, organisations, business firms and above all, the local Maori clubs.
Exhibitions were set up at Broadcasting House, the Turnbull Library, the Dominion Museum and the Display Centre, many ‘family treasures’ being lent for public display. Downstage theatre presented The Golden Lover and readings of New Zealand poetry, cooking demonstrations using Maori food were given daily, there were mid-day open air demonstrations at Civic Square on suitable days, and a lecture on a moa camp archaeological excavation was given at the museum.
Hundreds of children of all ages came through the Display Centre, watching the making of flax food baskets and piupius, and taniko work. Several Niuean women showed their skill at weaving baskets and table mats, and many children had their first lesson in Niuean weaving.
Eight first-year apprentice carpenters from the Petone Institute of Technology worked on
‘Tranquility’, D. N. Carr's Prizewinning portrait in the ‘Polynesian Head’ competition
photograph by Bill Beavis
Visitors discussing the photographs, carvings and paintings in the Department of Education's display
Porirua East children ready to sing to Toh Puan Raha. The carpet on which they are sitting was commissioned especially for the festival
National Publicity Studios
The highlight for many visitors was watching Mr John Taiapa and two apprentices who had come for three days from the Rotorua carving school, and Mr Charlie Tuarau who continued the demonstrations for the remainder of the week.
Displays by the New Zealand Army, the Arts and Crafts branch of the Education Department, the Justice Department (examples of Maori craft work done by prisoners during their hobby periods), and excellent collection of native plants, and an exhibition of the work of Maori artists (featured in our last issue)
Wallace Heteraka of Whangaruru and Jim Fergus of Taradale, two apprentices from the Rotorua Arts and Crafts Institute
‘Evening Post’ photographs
Niue Island women demonstrate weaving. From left: Mrs M. Walsh, Mrs T. Mokalei, Mrs M. Ioane Kanavatoa, and Mrs T. Vekula, a master weaver
— a ‘Dominion’ photograph
filled the main display area.
Featured in other parts of the Display Centre were entries in three competitions—mural, ‘Polynesian Head’, and children's colouring, a photographic display, and several paintings by artist Selwyn Muru. Of special interest were Goldie and Lindauer prints, original purchase deeds for land in the Wellington area, and many priceless artifacts.
Talent quests were held daily, and each evening a different programme was arranged: a Junior Proms concert with boys and girls from Hato Paora and Turakina Colleges; demonstrations of Powhiri, action songs, pois, games and hakas by members of three Wellington Maori clubs; songs and dances by a Tokelauan group; an All-Nations Proms Concert with national dress and special items from many countries; an unforgettable Maori-Polynesian Concert, when six clubs presented items to a delighted audience in a packed Town Hall; and a grand ‘Night in Polynesia’ Ball.
Special guests at the Junior Proms Concert, challenged by the Halo Paora boys, were Tun Abdul Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, his wife Toh Puan Raha, and their official party. Toh Puan Raha returned next morning to have a leisurely look at the display, and was delighted with the impromptu singing of Maori songs by infants from Porirua East primary school, who had come with their teacher to the Centre.
Hundreds gathered for a hangi at Oriental Bay on the Saturday afternoon, where the food was served in flax baskets made during the week.
Festival Week ended as it began, with choral singing, but this time at a combined Thanksgiving Service in the Town Hall. However, with several competitions still open and static displays still on view, public interest in the Festival remained high. Plans are under way for another festival centred on Waitangi Day, 6 February 1969.
Polynesian Head: D. N. Carr, ‘Tranquility’, 1; Mrs Louise Nathan, ‘Tamahine’, 2.
Mural: Selwyn Muru, 1; Mr M. Forsey, 2.
Photographic: Black and White: Mrs Y. J. Cave, Wanganui, 1; R. Woolff, Wellington, 2; Colour Prints: W. H. Britton, Auckland, 1; W. Hitt, Auckland, 2; Colour Slides: W. H. Britton, Auckland, 1; R. Woolff, Wellington, 2.
Results of the talent quest and carving competition are not yet available.