The vision for Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki / Auckland Arts Festival 2021 has been announced, including the overarching theme of “Aroha.”
As Ataahua Papa, Kaihautū Māori at AAF, explains, “Often misunderstood as just meaning love, aroha is so much more. The word aroha actually encompasses all five senses, as well as the ego and intellect – and we celebrate them all throughout the 2021 Festival.”
Thematic programming is a key shift introduced by new AAF Artistic Director Shona McCullagh, and all 2021 shows fall within one of three strands related to the overarching theme: aroha ki te taiao, our love and care for our natural environment – air, land and water; aroha ki te tangata, kindness, compassion and goodwill toward people; and aroha ki ngā kōrero, the respect we hold for our stories.
Three shows were announced in an online reveal on Wednesday 11 November, each representing a strand of the 2021 Festival theme, Aroha.
Embodying aroha ki te taiao and presented by Voices New Zealand, Taonga Moana is a breathtaking musical and visual homage to the beauty and vulnerability of our oceans. The show is conducted by Dr Karen Grylls, with direction and choreography by New Zealand Arts Laureate Sara Brodie and features music by a range of international composers, including Aotearoa’s own Warren Maxwell (Trinity Roots, Little Bushman).
Signalling aroha ki te tangata, Pūmanawa brings together four brilliant kapa haka who embody the idea of legacy, talent and dedication to a centuries-old way of celebration. This performance by Te Rōpū Manutaki, Te Iti Kahurangi, Tūwhitia kia Angitu and 2019 Te Matatini winners Ngā Tūmanako will be incredibly powerful and is particularly important as the annual kapa haka competition Te Matatini has been cancelled for 2021.
Flying the flag for aroha ki ngā korero is the 20th anniversary concert of Che-Fu’s seminal second album, Navigator, which the artist will perform in full at an all-ages show at Auckland Town Hall with his band the Kratez. When Che-Fu released Navigator in 2001, he opened a new chapter for New Zealand music – dropping genre-crossing tracks like ‘Misty Frequencies’ and ‘Fade Away’ that brought Polynesian sounds and stories to the masses and swiftly took their place as kiwi classics.
Early Bird tickets are now available to Taonga Moana, Pūmanawa, and Che-Fu and the Kratez.