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Tauranga Arts Festival Appoints New Director

The Tauranga Arts Festival Trust is delighted to announce that award-winning singer and songwriter Ria Hall is to helm the 2021 Tauranga Arts Festival.

Ms Hall, who is of Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga descent and is a champion of te reo Māori, was born and educated in Tauranga, returning to her hometown in 2014. She is the first wāhine Māori to take on the role of director of the Tauranga Arts Festival.

Involved with the biennial 10-day festival since 2015, Ms Hall co-composed the specially commissioned waiata, ‘Takiri ko te Ata’ (‘A Chorus Dawn’), and has trained a community choir to perform it at each festival since. As well, she was named the festival’s first ambassador in 2017.

At the 2017 festival Ms Hall performed her concept show, ‘Rules of Engagement’, based on her album of the same name which takes its inspiration from the local land wars and their aftermath. For the most recent festival in October Ms Hall worked as an intern, taking on support roles across the entire organisation.

“It is with great humility that I have accepted this incredible opportunity,” she says. “Nothing excites me more than the realm of possibility that a role like festival director provides.

“Community is a huge driver for me, and bringing new and diverse audiences to experience the power of the arts is a dream I look forward to realising for Tauranga Moana.”

Trust chair Kathryn Lellman says the festival is fortunate to have recruited someone who has strong roots in the local community, as well as being a respected member of the arts network in New Zealand and beyond. Ms Hall, who has previously worked for Creative NZ, currently serves as a board member for the New Zealand Music Commission.

“The Trust Board is so excited to appoint Ria to our festival director role,” Mrs Lellman says. “She is a strong advocate for our community, an emerging force in our sector who has huge talent – and we can’t wait to see her bring those skills to the growth of our festival.

“We are also delighted that Jo Bond will remain engaged with the festival as a consultant to assist with a smooth transition to Ria and we thank Jo for her huge input into the success of our organisation.”

Escape! Festival is the first event on Ms Hall’s calendar – the festival of ideas and conversation takes place at Baycourt from May 29-June1.


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