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


Superstar Songbirds Uplift Te Reo Māori In Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival Opera Event – Moving To February 2022

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival’s brilliant new opera event HIHĪ - A Song of Place will move to 4 February 2022.

The huge celebration of te reo Māori in waiata, which uplifts some of Aotearoa’s most remarkable songbirds amidst the exquisite beauty of Waihīrere Domain, was due to be the first event in Gisborne’s annual spring festival this October. Following the current COVID outbreak, it will now take place in the height of Summer.

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival Artistic Director and Chief Executive Tama Waipara says the team have been working hard during lockdown to continue plans for delivery of a spectacular 10 days of arts, music and culture in October.

“HIHĪ will be our largest outdoor event, set to attract over 1000 in attendance. With consideration of alert level restrictions, we’ve made the decision to present the world premiere of this performance in Waitangi weekend,” Waipara says.

Featuring renowned singers Maisey Rika, Deborah Wai Kapohe, Erena Koopu and Rutene Spooner, accompanied by musicians from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, with more to be announced, this spectacular and unique opera event showcases the songs of Te Tairāwhiti, well-loved waiata sung in operatic style, kapa haka and favourite opera arias performed in te reo Māori.

Created by the powerhouse team of Teina Moetara, Ruth Smith, Mere Boynton and Tama Waipara in partnership with Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, HIHĪ draws inspiration from the waters, environment and people of Te Tairāwhiti, birthplace of acclaimed Māori songwriters Tuini Ngāwai and Sir Āpirana Ngata.

Creative Director Teina Moetara says, “HIHĪ is an identity – an energy which comes from the knowing of a place. Tairāwhiti has some high-class art – it’s the toi capital of Aotearoa – but it’s art we often speak about by ourselves and to ourselves, without focused energy to exponentiate it.

“Waihīrere has many storytellers, and music makers whose role is to tell those stories. They’re stories which have been told many times in many contexts in a Māori world. The minute you drop in an orchestra in the middle of that space, with opera singers and musical forms slightly outside of what you’d normally put in that environment, the idea grows, and it connects. We’re building infrastructure to drive our stories further,” Moetara says.

At a time when live music is valued highly because of its ability to bring people together, the annual Gisborne festival is a major drawcard to a region rich with artistic history and talent, including celebrated performers and artists, both living and remembered.

“Though we need to adapt to the circumstances of COVID restrictions, what we can assure our community is that the Tairāwhiti region will still come alive from 8 to 17 October with the third annual celebration of the arts and the talented East Coast,” says Waipara.

All HIHĪ - A Song of Place ticket holders will be contacted by iTicket to move their tickets to the revised dates, or offer a full refund, before 30 September.

For more information, please visit

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland