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Inaugural Toi Wahine Festival Hits Hamilton

Hamilton’s first ever Toi Wāhine Festival runs from 1st to 11th of August, celebrating 125 years of Women’s Suffrage in NZ, with eleven days of exploring women’s creativity, art and ideas.

With more than 25 events happening at The Meteor, Clarence St Theatre and the Waikato Museum, the Toi Wāhine Festival will explore a diverse range of women’s experiences through performance and discussion. Motivated by those women who fought for the vote, festival co-directors Deborah Nudds and Sophie Hakaraia have curated a unique line-up that includes theatre, music, film, literature, comedy, workshops, panel discussions, networking and practial skill building events.

“Wāhine 125yrs ago were fierce and had to fight for everything they had” says Hakaraia, who grew up in Hamilton. “And nowhere is their legacy more strongly felt than right here in the Waikato, birthplace of Prime Ministers Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern. With both men and women's voices all over the world continuing to demand gender equality we felt the time was right for this festival. We have been using whakatauki to inspire us too, Ki te kotahi te kakaho ka whati, Ki te kapuia e kore e whati (Alone we can be broken. Standing together, we are invincible)”

“Early on we also locked onto the Virginia Woolf quote “For most of history anonymous was a woman” and used this as the starting point for our desire to tell women’s stories and explore both the diversity of women’s experiences and the themes that are common to all. We want to add to the other local and national suffrage celebrations too” Says Nudds, manager of the Meteor Theatre.

With big music industry names like Tami Neilson at Clarence St and Julia Deans at The Meteor included in the line-up, along with comedian Justine Smith, ex-Hamiltonian Kerre McIvor, the Lady Killers, the NZ film ‘Waru’ and a documentary called ‘Mankiller’, the festival promises to appeal to a wide range of tastes.

Local theatre is featured, such as Jo Bishop’s ‘A Revealing Thyme’ at The Meteor and Gaye Poole’s ‘The Chapel Perilous’ at Clarence St, alongside NZ imports like the hilarious ‘Best Comedy Akld Fringe’ wining ‘Aunty’ and ‘The First Time’, which tells five interconnecting stories of young Kiwi women experiencing the first hurdles of adulthood. There are panel discussions, such as ‘A Woman’s Worth’ featuring current and ex- Hamilton women, ’The Definition of Me’ where a sense of ‘realness’ and self is discussed with TV’s Sonia Gray and other inspirational panellists, and ‘What I Deserve?’ where workplace and domestic violence issues are discussed by expert Wāhine from a diverse range of perspectives.

“There are lots of free community events too!” says Hakaraia, ‘We have an event for older women to meet new friends and ‘E Kō! Hey Girl!’ an opportunity for young women to learn new practical skills for an independent life or non-traditional career”.

“We really hope there’s something for everyone “ says Nudds. “It’s been a massive undertaking! We are so inspired and humbled by the support we have recieved about the kaupapa of Toi Wāhine, and we hope the seeds sown this year will grow into an even more inclusive festival in the future” says Nudds.

With six months’ work about to come to fruition, both directors of the Toi Wāhine festival are looking forward to seeing some great shows, meeting some new friends and welcoming the community to help celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in NZ.

For more information and ticket links go to www.toiwahine.co.nz

ends

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