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Headline: Artists Collaborate To Share Stories Of Heretaunga

Later this month, 13 artists with connections to Hastings-Heretaunga will share stories of our people, place, culture and identity in three free events created specifically to showcase brand new local work.

Called Heretaunga Stories, the three shows were created by three Hastings’ District Council’s facilities – Hastings City Art Gallery, Hastings District Libraries and Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre - as part of a specific Covid-19 recovery plan.

Flaxmere born-and-bred author, surreal portrait artist and photographer P J Shepherd (pictured) says she’s incredibly grateful to be included in the line-up, which also includes Mauricio Benaga, Ben Pearce, Charles Ropitini, Jo Morris, Putaanga Waitoa, Ana Zavala, Kristyl Neho, Arohanui Lawrence, Andrew Browne, Anton Wuts, Mark Sweet, and Ben Fagan.

“When I was given the opportunity to be part of Heretaunga Stories, it was not so long after we'd come out of COVID-19 and I was working as hard as I could to gain back my clients,” P J says. “I'm so grateful to have been given this opportunity and to be paid for it. It was a pleasant surprise.”

P J has published three books, despite dropping out of school at 16. She is completely self-taught.

Held at the Hastings City Art Gallery and Toitoi, each Heretaunga Stories show will see multiple artists give a 15 minute taster of what they’ve been working on. Each show will include multiple disciplines, with the work a direct response to our diverse community in 2020.

“Through COVID-19 it really was drilled into my head how important supporting local artists and businesses were as I saw many of my friends also struggling but trying to support one another. To be part of a show that embraces local artists is incredible. I know there will be a lot of talent to show. Don't miss it!”

From actors and story-tellers, to sculptors, photographers and film-makers, Heretaunga Stories will be diverse in content and delivery, ensuring something to entertain everyone in the whanau.

Hastings District Council mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says supporting local arts and culture is a council priority in its Covid recovery.

“In times of distress, the arts can be a big part of the glue which helps communities recover, which is why Council agreed to fund the Arts, Culture & Events Recovery Plan, as part of our overall approach to Hastings-Heretaunga’s recovery from Covid-19,” she says.

“It’s a delight to see that plan enable so many local artists to be paid to explore what it means to be part of our community in 2020. I encourage locals to come and support these artists as they bravely share new work in these three shows.”

Council’s Arts, Culture & Events Recovery Plan chairperson Megan Peacock-Coyle says while creating paid opportunities for local artists, these shows are also introducing a diverse range of artists to each other, to encourage broader networking and collaboration.

“Heretaunga Stories is an opportunity for council to pay a diverse group of local creatives to explore new ideas and test them out on local audiences. Our hope is that after these events, we can then work with some of these artists to continue developing these tasters into larger works.”

Heretaunga Stories features:

November 26, 7pm, Hastings City Art Gallery: Mauricio Benaga, Ben Pearce, Charles Ropitini, Jo Morris

December 1, 7pm, Toitoi: Putaanga Waitoa, P J Shepherd, Ana Zavala, Kristyl Neho, Arohanui Lawrence

Debember 8, 7pm, Toitoi: Andrew Browne, Anton Wuts, Mark Sweet, Ben Fagan

For more information, go to

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