Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


We're on the world stage: celebrating NZ arts

We're on the world stage: celebrating New Zealand arts

New Zealand arts and artists give us a leading edge on the world stage and promote this country as a centre of creativity and innovation, Creative New Zealand Chair Peter Biggs said tonight.

Peter Biggs was speaking at a Creative New Zealand function, where Prime Minister Helen Clark was guest of honour, to celebrate the "tremendous" wave of New Zealand arts on the world stage over the next year. Mr Biggs said the depth and diversity of arts activity going offshore reinforced New Zealand's international reputation as a creative, vibrant and Pacific nation.

As this country's leading arts development organisation, Creative New Zealand's arts advocacy role underpins all of its work, Mr Biggs said.

"This evening's function is all about promoting and celebrating the value of New Zealand arts and our talented artists, both in this country and internationally," he said. "Time and time again, New Zealand artists show they can foot it with the best in the world."

As Hawke's Bay designer David Trubridge, whose furniture has been scooped up by leading Italian manufacturer Cappellini, has said, Europeans value our differences; the freshness and originality of New Zealand work, inspired by our landscape and cultural mix.

"Our arts and creative industries play a pivotal role in communicating New Zealand's unique values to the world," Mr Biggs said. "This kind of profile also has considerable commercial spin-offs for New Zealand businesses competing internationally.

"The world is hungry for new and innovative products, encapsulated in the arts: original, bold, ground-breaking, challenging, creative and visionary. These dimensions lie at the heart of this country's brand as we compete in the global marketplace."

Among the events (see Appendices for more events and details) highlighted at the function, held at the Wellington City Gallery, were:

* New Zealand at the 50th Venice Biennale, 12 June to 2 November: Artist Michael Stevenson is representing New Zealand at the world's most prestigious visual arts event with his installation, This is the Trekka.

* Prague Quadrennial 2003, 12 - 29 June: The premier showcase of international theatre design, New Zealand will be represented in the National Exhibition section and is also playing a key role in a special centrepiece exhibition for the entire event, The Heart of the PQ: a Performance Landscape of the Senses. In addition, Pacific nations will be represented there for the first time - thanks to the vision of Auckland dancemaker/designer Lemi Ponifasio.

* The Kiwa exhibition, Vancouver, 20 September - 20 October: This is an exhibition of work by more than 20 senior Mäori artists at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery, a dealer gallery specialising in Inuit and Northwest Coast art, sculpture and graphics by master artists. During the month-long exhibition, however, the entire gallery space will be devoted to Mäori art in an exhibition co-ordinated by the gallery with support from Toi Mäori Aotearoa.

* Black Grace Dance Company, Australia and the Netherlands, May - July and October: The Auckland dance company is on a 13-centre tour of Australia and is also performing at the prestigious Holland Dance Festival, to be followed by a tour of the Netherlands.

At the function, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced a major exhibition to be mounted by the Asia Society in New York in February next year.

Paradise Now? will be the first major presentation of contemporary art from both New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in New York. It will feature leading contemporary artists, including: Peter Peryer, Michael Parekowhai, Lisa Reihana, John Pule, Michel Tuffery, Niki Hastings-McFall, John Ioane and Ruth Watson. Creative New Zealand supported the curatorial development of the exhibition with a $25,000 grant through the Arts Board.

It is the first significant group exhibition of New Zealand art at a major public gallery in the United States since Te Maori, which opened at the Metropolitan Museum in 1984 and showcased traditional Mäori art.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public programmes, including films, lectures, symposiums and performance - all profiling New Zealand creativity and innovation.

Artist Michel Tuffery, who is taking part in the event, said the Asia Society's exhibition and accompanying programmes were an ideal opportunity to show the United States the vibrancy and cutting-edge nature of New Zealand arts.

"A lot of Americans still don't know much about us and our art," he said. "They're in for a great surprise. We're just so different. It gives us a really positive advantage."

APPENDIX 1 The World is Our Stage The following pages contain information about some of the New Zealand arts events occurring internationally in 2003/2004. While many of the events have received funding support from Creative New Zealand or other government sources, inclusion in this list is no indication of such support.

There are contact details at the end of each listing for further information.

New Zealand at the 50th Venice Biennale 12 June to 2 November 2003 Artist Michael Stevenson is representing New Zealand at the leading visual arts event in the world with his installation This is the Trekka. Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the oldest international critical forum for contemporary visual art, attracting thousands of the world’s most influential artists, curators, critics, gallery directors and collectors.

Michael Stevenson is one of New Zealand’s most visible artists on the international stage. He has been exhibiting regularly in New Zealand and internationally since 1988 and was New Zealand’s artist-in-residence in Berlin at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 2002. He was a finalist in the 1997 Seppelt Contemporary Art Award and the inaugural 2002 Walters Prize.

In his installation Stevenson links the Trekka, hailed as New Zealand’s only homegrown automobile, to another ingenious Kiwi invention - the Moniac, the world’s first economic computer designed by New Zealand economist Dr Bill Phillips in 1949. A perspex labyrinth, the Moniac is a water-driven analogue computer, a pioneering, hhydraulic model of a national economy. Water flows through a series of plastic tanks, gauges, pulleys and tubes, representing money in circulation. Together, the Trekka and the Moniac will form the centrepiece of a larger installation presenting a big-picture view of New Zealand industry and culture in the Cold War period.

New Zealand’s presence at the 2003 Biennale with the work of Michael Stevenson builds on the success of New Zealand’s inaugural presence in 2001. The New Zealand exhibition at the 50th Venice Biennale 2003 is an initiative of Creative New Zealand, working in partnership with City Gallery Wellington.

Contact: Undine Marshfield Media and Communications Adviser, Creative New Zealand Tel: 04-498 0725 Email:


Prague Quadrennial 2003 12 - 29 June 2003 The Prague Quadrennial is the premier showcase of international theatre design. New Zealand has been represented at the Prague Quadrennial since 1983, thanks to theatre veterans Raymond Boyce and Iain Aitken. But 2003 will mark its biggest presence yet at this event.

New Zealand will be competing against 50 other countries in the National Exhibition section, where it won the UNESCO Prize for “design excellence, creativity and originality” in 1999. New Zealand is also represented in Crown of Dramatic Characters, a new feature of the National Exhibition section, where designers will present a Kiwi twist to European costuming that’s bound to attract and intrigue visitors.

The National Exhibition section will include a Pacific nations exhibit for the first time in the Quadrennial’s 36-year history. This will be curated by Auckland dancemaker/designer Lemi Ponifasio. The exhibit, entitled VASA: sacred space, will illuminate the design elements and philosophy of Pacific performance. Lemi’s performance company, MAU, will also present a vision of theatre through live performance at the Quadrennial.

Wellington theatre architect and designer Dorita Hannah is spearheading a team of international artists, along with colleagues Sven Mehzoud and Lee Gibson, to create the centrepiece exhibition for the entire event, The Heart of the PQ: a Performance Landscape of the Senses. The exhibition has a number of components, including a large table and five towers representing each of the senses. New Zealand choreographer Carol Brown, for instance, is curating the Tower of Touch. Both the New Zealand and Pacific nations exhibits will tour New Zealand later this year on their return home from Prague. It is also intended to re-present The Heart of the PQ: a Performance Landscape of the Senses in a public gallery. Creative New Zealand has supported New Zealand participation at the Prague Quadrennial 2003 with grants totalling more than $58,000. The New Zealand design team for The Heart of the PQ: a Performance Landscape of the Senses is supported by Massey University College of Design, Fine Arts and Music.

Contact: Dorita Hannah Tel: 04-801 2794 (X6690) Email: National Exhibition: Shannon Huse Tel: 09-306 6473 Mobile: 021 575 222 Email: Website:

Kiwa exhibition – Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver 20 September – 20 October 2003 Kiwa is an exhibition of work by more than 20 senior Mäori artists to be held at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver, Canada. Spirit Wrestler is a dealer gallery specialising in Inuit and Northwest Coast art, sculpture and graphics by master artists.

During the month-long exhibition, however, the entire gallery space will be devoted to Mäori art in an exhibition co-ordinated by the gallery with support from Toi Mäori Aotearoa. Artists invited to participate include: Wi Taepa, Manos Nathan, Paerau Corneal, Colleen Waata Urlich, Alex Nathan, Gabrielle Belz, Kerry Thompson, Fred Graham, Roi Toia, Todd Couper, Fayne Robinson, Hepi Maxwell, Lewis Gardiner, June Grant, Jolene Douglas, Sandy Adsett, Bob Jahnke, Steve Gibbs, Darcy Nicholas, Israel Birch, Riki Manuel, Saffron Te Ratana, Ngatai Taepa, Ross Hemera and Vicky Stark.

An exhibition catalogue will be published and distributed to more than 2000 of the gallery’s client list, many of whom are fine art collectors. Sixty-five per cent of the gallery’s clients are from the United States and fifteen per cent from Europe. The gallery expects Kiwa to attract the interest of international art collectors, keen to follow the global trend of acquiring indigenous art.

The relationship between Spirit Wrestler co-owner Nigel Reading began in 1996 when Rotorua artists June Grant and Roi Toia took part in a First Nations exposition called AFNexus in Vancouver. As a result, Nigel Reading has visited New Zealand and made significant purchases of Mäori art to take back to the gallery. Kiwa is the next stage in that relationship and is seen as reflecting the emerging view, in the global art world, that Mäori art is work of integrity and of high-art status. The exhibition provides Mäori artists with an ideal opportunity to explore new markets for Mäori art, particularly American art collectors.

More than half the artists in the exhibition are licensed users of toi iho™, the registered trademark denoting authenticity and quality of Mäori art. Creative New Zealand, which administers toi iho™, is exploring ways in which the exhibition can be used to boost the international profile of toi iho™.

New Zealand contact: Garry Nicholas, Toi Mäori Aotearoa Tel: 04-801 7914 Email: Website:

Black Grace Dance Company Australasian Tour 20 May – 5 July 2003 Black Grace’s 13-centre tour of Australia includes engagements that are a direct result of its spotlight performances at the 5th Australian Performing Arts Market in Adelaide in 2002. New Zealand’s presence at the biennial Australian Performing Arts Market is organised and supported by Creative New Zealand. Black Grace has also been invited to perform at the prestigious Holland Dance Festival, followed by a tour of the Netherlands in October and November this year.

Black Grace is an all-male, Polynesian dance company, boasting some of New Zealand's finest contemporary dancers. The company is renowned for its ability to combine traditional and contemporary dance forms.

Contact: Jessica Smith Tel: 09-358 0552 Email:


Whale Rider – international releases Whale Rider, recently launched in Australia and the Netherlands, has its United States and British launches in June. This will followed by releases this year in South Africa, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Directed by Niki Caro, Whale Rider is based on the novel by acclaimed New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera. It stars newcomer Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton and Cliff Curtis. The film tells the story of a young girl’s fight to prove her love, her leadership and her destiny, and is shot on location in Whangara, on the East Coast.

Whale Rider is the first film to receive funding from the New Zealand Government’s new Film Production Fund. Other investors in the film are ApolloMedia in Germany, Filmstiftung NRW, The New Zealand Film Commission and NZ on Air.


World premiere of Tihei Mauri Ora!, Washington DC 30 May 2003 Tihei Mauri Ora!, the latest offering from New Zealand composer Christopher Marshall, will have its world premiere when the Washington Men’s Camerata under Frank Albinder with clarinettist William Wright perform it at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC on 30 May 2003. It consists of six highly contrasted settings of ancient Mäori texts from various regions of New Zealand.

Christopher Marshall is a former Fulbright Scholar (as composer-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music in New York) and University of Otago Mozart Fellow. He also holds a Fellowship in Composition from Trinity College, London.

The Washington Men’s Camerata was founded by its members in 1984 to perform, promote and preserve the rich legacy of men’s choral music.

Contact: Tel: 09-360 4957 Email:

Spacific at Fabric, London Thursday 5 June Building on the runaway success of previous “Aotearoanz” events, Spacific will present a showcase of New Zealand contemporary musicians and DJs at Fabric, London on 5 June. Live performers include: Nathan Haines, MC Tali (Live PA), Fat Freddy’s Drop, Pacific Heights, WAI, Tama Waipara and Ebb. DJs include: Concord Dawn, Stinky Jim, Phully, Dan Move, Tubbs, Pots, Pylonz, Flic, Mu, Vee with MC P-Diggity.

The Spacific series continues through summer with a celebration of New Zealand culture - art, music, film and fashion. Future events include Trinity Roots, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Ebb live at The Melkweg in Amsterdam on 9 August, monthly residencies in Barcelona, Madrid and Vienna, and a return to Fabric on 21 August with performances from Pitch Black, Trinity Roots, King Kapisi, Manuel Bundy and many more.



The Lord of the Rings The Motion Picture Trilogy – The Exhibition International tour from 16 September The Lord of the Rings Exhibition The Motion Picture Trilogy – The Exhibition starts its international tour at the Science Museum in London on 16 September. The exhibition then visits Boston, Singapore and Sydney. Te Papa was granted exclusive rights to produce this blockbuster touring exhibition by New Line Cinema, the producers of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The trilogy, filmed in New Zealand, was directed by Peter Jackson.

More than 220,000 people visited the exhibition while it was at Te Papa.

Contact: Vicki Connor Tel: 04-381 7083 Email:


Kahurangi – tours of Malaysia and India September – October 2003 Kahurangi New Zealand Mäori Dance Theatre Trust is touring Malaysia from 3 - 30 September 2003 and doing various shows under the Malaysia NZ Business Association. It is then touring to India for an indigenous cultural exchange with the Naga tribes of Nagaland in North East India and performing at Apni Dharati – Our Earth, an international indigenous cultural festival in Panchgani, Maharashtra State.

This follows Kahurangi’s success in getting an eight-page cover story in the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ magazine, Inside Arts, earlier this year. In January, the troupe took part in the Association’s conference in New York – a major booking forum in the United States, which has helped Kahurangi secure North American bookings over the next five years. Contact: Tel: 06-873 0041 Email:

Te Vaka, European tour 14 June – 25 August Contemporary ten-piece Pacific band Te Vaka is heading off to Europe. Since 1997, Te Vaka has performed in 30 countries at many festivals and prestigious music venues. Audiences everywhere are enchanted with the Te Vaka show. The traditional influences are exotic and exciting, the originality and uniqueness of the music is inspiring. The group’s sound is grounded in giant log drums and assorted other instruments in the percussion family. Te Vaka adds guitars, keyboard, world beat and funk rhythms, and soaring harmonies, along with the indigenous wisdom of the Mäori, Samoan and Tokelauan cultures.

Contact: Julie Foa’i Tel: 021 824 180 Email:


Mika and his dance company, Torotoro, in Australia and Britain June – August 2003 Mika and his dance company, Torotoro, will present Mika Haka at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 11 - 13 June and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, and also undertake a tour of Britain. From the spine-tingling vibe of the welcome anthems through to the lingering echoes of the techno-haka, this high-octane, energetic show merges ancient Mäori traditions with slick, new urban styles in a cabaret extravaganza. Self-styled Mäori Madonna and funky, eight-man tribal dance crew, Torotoro presents global dance forms powered by cultural pride in pulsating chants and rhythms.

Contact: Tel: 09-360 0646 Email:

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Japan October 2003 The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will give the opening concert in the International Performing Arts Festival to be held in Osaka, Japan in October. The festival features five orchestras from Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, and is co-ordinated by the Association of Japanese Symphony Orchestras. The NZSO Music Director James Judd will conduct, with New Zealand mezzo soprano Helen Medlyn as soloist in Edward Elgar’s Sea Pictures. The programme will include Douglas Lilburn’s Aotearoa Overture and two other spectacular works: Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

Contact: Joy Aberdein Tel: 04-801 3890 Email: Hannah Evans Tel: 04-801 3833 Email:


John Psathas - working with The Nederlands Blazers Ensemble For its 2003-2004 concert season, The Nederlands Blazers Ensemble has commissioned New Zealand composer John Psathas to create a programme for its renowned Paradiso series, to premiere in mid-2004 and then tour the Netherlands. Psathas is responsible for co-ordinating the programme, which will combine arrangements of ancient and contemporary Greek folk music with new music by Psathas and composer/clarinettist Manos Achalinotopoulos (Greece), to be performed by The Nederlands Blazers Ensemble and Greek musicians.

Contact: Tel: 04-463 5862 Email:


New Zealand String Quartet -North American tours June - July and November 2003 Acclaimed for its powerful communication, dramatic energy and beauty of sound, the New Zealand String Quartet comprises Helene Pohl, violin; Douglas Beilman, violin; Gillian Ansell, viola; and Rolf Gjelsten, cello. The NZSQ made its London debut atWigmore Hall in 2000 and regularly tours to North America, Europe and Asia. It will make its New York debut in November 2003. It also performs numerous concerts in New Zealand and is performing in Wellington later this month. Dedicated teachers as well as performers, the NZSQ has been quartet-in-residence at Victoria University since 1991.

In its June/July tour, it will present concerts in Canada and in the United States. In November, its itinerary includes its debut concert in New York in the Frick Collection, one of the finest music series in the United States. It is also playing for the third year in Washington DC, for the first time at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. As part of the tour, it is also undertaking a teaching residency at Banff, Canada. Contact: Diana Marsh Tel: 04-499 8883 Email:


Taki Rua Productions - Hawaii May 2004 Taki Rua Productions is presenting a two-week season of Hone Kouka’s The Prophet in Hawaii, May 2004. The Prophet is the third play in a trilogy by Hone Kouka. The first is Waiora, which premiered at the 1996 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts before touring to Britain and throughout New Zealand. The second play, Home Fires, premiered at the 1998 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, and The Prophet will premiere at the 2004 Festival of the Arts before its tour to Hawaii.

Since its beginnings as the Depot Theatre 20 years ago, Taki Rua Productions has focused almost exclusively on theatre that explores New Zealand’s identity. It has been at the forefront of theatre with a Mäori and Pacific focus.

Contact: Tel: 04-472 7377 Email: Website:

Massive Company – Royal Court Theatre, London January 2004 After two sellout seasons in Auckland, Massive Company has been invited to perform a season of The Sons of Charlie Paora at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre in London. This is the culmination of three years of exchanges, writing, workshopping and finally performing to packed houses in October 2002. The critics and audiences were in agreement that The Sons of Charlie Paora was an essential new theatre show that would have its place in New Zealand theatre history.

The Sons of Charlie Paora is steeped in New Zealand’s rich multi-cultural society and proves our stories can translate to the wider global community. Set over one night in a garage in Mangere, the play focuses on a group of young men who gather to acknowledge the passing of their mentor, father figure and rugby coach Charlie Paora. Each of the “sons” has a story to tell and a choice to make from this passing.

Massive Company, formally know as AYPT, has a strong history of developing young New Zealand performers and technicians. Every year, Massive Company collaborates with international and locally recognised writers. It has developed a rich heritage of theatre productions, from Legacy (1999) to Still Moving (2000) and Love Wrangler (2001).

Contact: Tel: 027 231 7644 Email:

New Zealand Day Central Park SummerStage – New York Sunday 13 July New York’s Central Park will rock to the sounds of contemporary New Zealand music when four New Zealand acts play there in July. King Kapisi, Pine, WAI and Greg Johnson have been selected as the line-up for the New Zealand Sounds day in July as part of the New York City Central Park SummerStage.

The day is a result of the World Series of Music organised by the Government last November in conjunction with the America’s Cup.

Contact: NZ Music Industry Commission Tel: 09-3095035 Email: Trade New Zealand Tel: 07-838 2875 Email:

Royal New Zealand Ballet – Britain April - May 2004 The Royal New Zealand Ballet will tour Britain next year with two programmes - Romeo and Juliet by Christopher Hampson and a triple bill of Saltarello (Christopher Hampson), Milagros (Javier Du Frutos) and FrENZy (Mark Baldwin).

The tour includes Manchester, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, High Wycombe and Bath. It will build on the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s reputation for strong characterisation in the staging of full-length dramatic works and the physical strength and versatility of its dancers.

Contact: Tel: 04-381 9000 Email: Website:

Jerusalem Jerusalem - Edinburgh August 2003 Dunedin writer Mike Riddell’s Jerusalem Jerusalem, written to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of James K. Baxter, premiered at Dunedin’s Globe Theatre in October last year and has since been performed in Wellington and Christchurch. Plans are now underway to take it to Edinburgh. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, is based on the last year of the poet James K. Baxter’s life, 1972. There is evidence that during this period he was aware of his approaching death. The dream of Jerusalem was fading and Baxter was a broken man. He suffered from depression and physically, he was an empty shell. But as his body failed, the spiritual quest that haunted his life intensified. Contact:

Indian Ink Theatre Company – Edinburgh August 2003 Indian Ink Theatre Company has been touring New Zealand ever since audiences fell in love with its first hit, Krishnan’s Dairy, in 1997. Now, the time is ripe to hit the international market. Krishnan’s Dairy won a coveted Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1999. In August this year, the company is returning to the Fringe, this time with The Pickle King. The intention this time is to secure a season in London’s West End. Contact: Justin Lewis Tel: 025 531 606 Email:

Playing Burton – Melbourne 10-15 June 2003 Playing Burton, by Mark Jenkins and directed by Guy Masterson, stars Welsh New Zealand actor Ray Henwood. Henwood won Actor of the Year Award in the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for his portrayal of Richard Burton. The play received its first Australasian performance in New Zealand at Wellington’s Circa Theatre before playing to rave reviews in Sydney in December last year.

Playing Burton is the highly charged journey from the Welsh valleys of coal to the heights of Hollywood, superstardom, Shakespeare, Marlowe and Elizabeth Taylor. Burton bitterly picks over the “bomb site” of his life in this play, which is as powerful as it is entertaining.

Contact: Janet Fearnley +61 3 9281 8315 / +61 418 308 057 Email:

New Zealanders at the Globe July 2003 and August-September 2003 In July, a 20-strong 2003 Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company will spend ten days at Shakespeare’s Globe in London for a full course and schedule. This will culminate in performing on the Globe stage, followed by more workshops and attending performances in Stratford-Upon-Avon. In August and September, actors Robyn Malcolm and Jonathon Hendry will be Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s artistic residents at Shakespeare’s Globe’s International Artistic Residence 2003. This will culminate in a performance on stage. The Shakespeare Globe Trust and the Shakespeare Globe Centres are dedicated to the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance. Contact: Dawn Sanders Tel: 04-476 8369 Mobile: 025 283 6016 Email:



Paradise Now?: contemporary art from the Pacific

Organised by the Asia Society, New York February - May 2004

Paradise Now?, the first major exhibition in the United States to present contemporary art from both New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, will open at the Asia Society Museum in New York in February 2004.

The Asia Society, America’s leading institution dedicated to enhancing public understanding of the Asia-Pacific region, will present the exhibition as part of its Spring 2004 season. From February through to May 2004, the exhibition will be accompanied by a range of informative programmes about New Zealand and other Pacific countries. These will offer balanced perspectives to serve the needs of diverse audiences - from corporate leaders to the general public – and draw on the strengths of the Asia Society as a leader in multi-disciplinary, public education programmes.

As well as serving its annual audience of up to 130,000 in New York, the Asia Society will use its network of programme collaborators and community partners to reach a broad national audience through the exhibition, performances, films, roundtables, and a business conference featuring government representatives from New Zealand. All this offers a high-profile platform to promote New Zealand’s vibrant contemporary culture, and growing importance in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

Paradise Now? will be the centrepiece of the season and is being billed as the first major United States presentation of contemporary art from both New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. It is the first major group exhibition of New Zealand art in the United States since Te Maori opened at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1984. While Te Maori presented traditional Mäori art, Paradise Now? will showcase the work of contemporary artists from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

New Zealand has one of the largest Polynesian communities in the world and takes a leadership role in the Pacific region. The selected artists, who include Mäori, Pacific and Pakeha artists, reflect the cultural diversity of New Zealand. Among the artists to feature in the exhibition are Peter Peryer, Michael Parekowhai, Lisa Reihana, John Pule, Michel Tuffery, Niki Hastings-McFall, John Ioane and Ruth Watson. Other artists are still being confirmed. The selection of works will focus in particular on the retention and adaptation of cultural traditions. Paradise Now? will challenge the notion of the Pacific as a paradise by focusing on contemporary art that addresses current issues: for instance, the connections and dialogue between Island cultures; the influence of religion; and the impact of popular American culture in the form of hip hop music.

The curator of the exhibition is Melissa Chiu, Curator, Contemporary Art, Asia Society Museum, along with New Zealand curatorial advisers Dr Karen Stevenson (University of Canterbury); Ngahiraka Mason (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tämaki); Caroline Vercoe (University of Auckland); and Jim Vivieaere (Auckland artist and curator).

Paradise Now? will be accompanied by a series of public programmes, including films, lectures, symposiums and performance. For example:

Performance - Michel Tuffery’s Urban Aquarium

The Asia Society is proud to present the United States premiere of Michel Tuffery’s new performance piece, Urban Aquarium. Tuffery’s performances explore issues pertinent to contemporary life in the Pacific, drawing on Polynesian and Melanesian dance and craft traditions to create a new language of ritual. Urban Aquarium adapts traditional spiritual rituals frequently found in the Pacific and associated with Tangaroa/Tangaloa - God of the Sea. Traditional reverence for the sea in Pacific cultures has been compromised by pollution and over-fishing, which has depleted marine life. Tuffery’s sculptures of marine life, made from food cans and car tyres, are used in the Urban Aquarium performance to re-invest belief in the God of the Sea. On one level, this makes the work a metaphorical ritual of healing the ocean. Urban Aquarium features a choreographed performance by five dancers from the Cook Islands and Samoa. Elements from the performance, such as the sculptures and video documentation, will also be on show for the duration of Paradise Now?, on view until May 2004.

Artists’ roundtable – Re-interpreting “Paradise”: Views of the Pacific

This roundtable will feature several artists from the exhibition discussing their work in the context of indigenous and outside influences. Topics will include the cultural interactions between Island cultures, the impact of popular culture, and the pervasiveness of the global art scene. Melissa Chiu, Asia Society Museum, and Dr Karen Stevenson, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, will moderate the discussion.

Film series - Beyond Paradise: Contemporary New Zealand and Pacific Island Film

This four-part film series will showcase the latest works by New Zealand and Pacific Island filmmakers, including award-winning features, short films and documentaries. Many of these will be New York premieres. New Zealand has a thriving film industry and many films are making an impact on the international film festival circuit. Films in this series are set in both rural and urban environments, telling the varied stories of Pacific Island societies. Beyond Paradise will be presented in association with the New Zealand Film Commission.

Business briefing - New Zealand Update: Priorities for Economic Co-operation in the South Pacific

This briefing will focus on New Zealand’s role in the South Pacific, including the importance of greater regional economic co-operation as an engine for regional growth. It will take place after the 2003 Pacific Island Forum, which will be hosted by New Zealand and represented by Heads of Government of New Zealand, Australia, and the independent and self-governing Pacific Island nations. New Zealand Update will draw together members of the New York business community, including high-level executives, investors and policy-makers with investment interests across Australasia, and New York-based government and commercial representatives of South Pacific countries.

About the Asia Society and Museum

The Asia Society was founded in 1956 as a non-profit, non-political, educational organisation, and is the leading institution in the United States dedicated to fostering communication and understanding between Americans and Asians.

Through international conferences, lectures, exhibitions, performances and publications, the Asia Society provides information and insights about the region that go beyond the headlines and soundbites of the day.

The Asia Society is located in culturally diverse New York City and its scope of influence is further broadened through touring exhibitions and performances, an Annual Corporate Conference in Asia, the Annual Williamsburg Conference in Asia, and its award-winning family of websites.

The Asia Society’s headquarters are in New York City, with regional centres in Washington DC, Houston, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Melbourne, and representative offices in San Francisco, Manila and Shanghai.

For more information, contact the Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021 or http://

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Legendary Bassist David Friesen Plays Wellington’s Newest Jazz Venue

Friesen is touring New Zealand to promote his latest album Another Time, Another Place, recorded live at Auckland's Creative Jazz Club in 2015. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Father - Descending Into The Depths of Dementia

Florian Zeller's dazzling drama The Father explores the effects of a deeply unsettling illness that affects 62,000 Kiwis, a number expected to grow to 102,000 by 2030. More>>

Howard Davis Review: Blade Runner Redivivus

When Ridley Scott's innovative, neo-noir, sci-fi flick Blade Runner was originally released in 1982, at a cost of over $45 million, it was a commercial bomb. More>>

14-21 October: New Zealand Improv Festival In Wellington

Imagined curses, Shibuya’s traffic, the apocalypse, and motherhood have little in common, but all these and more serve as inspiration for the eclectic improvised offerings coming to BATS Theatre this October for the annual New Zealand Improv Festival. More>>


Bird Of The Year Off To A Flying Start

The competition asks New Zealanders to vote for their favourite bird in the hopes of raising awareness of the threats they face. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books:
Jenny Abrahamson's John & Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders, 1864-1891

This volume will be of interest to a range of readers interested in the South Island high country, New Zealand’s natural environment, and the history of science. More>>