This is a story from our monthly newsletter, Heritage this Month.
Niki Partsch | Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Along with Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision staff, we joined Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage for their first appearance at Te Konohete, the annual Public Sector Māori Cultural Festival which began in 2004.
After many lunch time and after work practise sessions, and numerous late-night reviews of lyrics, actions and performance videos, we all gratefully crossed the stage in our blue, black and green costumes.
Five staff from our Wellington-based team joined the sole Ngā Taonga representative and the larger group from Manatū Taonga.
We use the name He Pūmanawa Taonga to represent all three entities. The name was gifted to us by Acting DCE Māori Crown Relations Taiāwhio Waititi. The name encompasses the talent our kaimahi from each agency has, and is representative of the cleverness of our intuitive bracket. A bracket that was literally dreamed up by Mareikura Brightwell from Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and then curated by a small leadership group.
Practises were held three times a week with a few sessions including a full-dress rehearsal, with a surprisingly large audience, at Old St Paul’s just a few days before our big stage opportunity.
We were an eclectic group of public servants – from first timers to the more seasoned performers and everyone in-between – sharing an intense but rewarding experience to prepare for a performance in front of a live audience.
Most of us arrived on foot at our venue, Wellington College rain soaked and a little stage anxious, however stepping inside, the vibe was instantly uplifting, and the audience was magnificent and so supportive that it was an absolute privilege to perform for them.
Anna Maria, joining the event for her first time, shares her thoughts. “When it was our turn to go on stage, I was super nervous. We got in our semi-circle position, and still very nervous. Then group members Paula, Pablo, and Erin beautifully intonated “He kakano ahau. I ruia mai i Rangiātea,” and the rest of us joined in, all my anxiety was replaced by a sense of the empowerment and belonging. This song talks about tikanga and reo as powerful tools of identity, something to cherish and to be proud of, no matter what life brings to you. This resonates strongly with me: when I feel down, inadequate, or simply home sick, I mentally travel back to my whenua, Sardinia, and I listen to the healing sound of my language. Quoting the song, “Ki hea rā au e hītekiteki ana, ka mau tonu I ahau ōku tikanga. Tōku reo, tōku oho-oho, tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea, tōku whakakai marihi (My language is my strength, an ornament of grace). How powerful is that?”
All self-doubts and frustrations seemed to drop away when we stepped onstage and were entirely discarded when we made our way joyfully offstage a few minutes later.
We are thankful to Manatū Taonga for this opportunity and look forward to Te Konohete 2024.
Watch our moments on stage here: