Indigenous Arts Festival returns next month

The Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival begins on September 6. Photo/Michelle Cutelli

Today marks the launch of the official 2020 event programme for the Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival which celebrates, shares and inspires through indigenous arts.

The festival runs from September 6 to September 20 at various locations around Rotorua and a full programme of events can be found at

Performers and guests will be welcomed to Rotorua at Te Papaiouru Marae in Ohinemutu at 11am on Tuesday, September 8 and an official launch will be held at Penny Haka Gallery in Whakarewarewa from 6pm that night.

Festival director, Cian Elyse White (Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao), who also led last year’s festival, says she is privileged to lead Aronui into its second year.

“I’m excited to celebrate, uplift and bring our community together after the tough first half of 2020," Cian says.

"The arts is the perfect vehicle for expressing the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our community, and the Aronui programme has something for everyone.

“Aronui 2020 is building on last year’s vision of supporting indigenous cultures and I hope it will encourage other artists from around New Zealand to come to Rotorua,” she says.

“This is an opportunity for our world-class local, national and eventually international indigenous talent to come together and celebrate each other in a boldly indigenous space. 

"Te Arawa looks forward to hosting our other indigenous brothers and sisters from different rohe around the motu (New Zealand), as we share and inspire our wider community and each other thanks to this year’s festival which celebrates our art, reo, people and stories," Cian says.

After a sell-out show at the Auckland Live Fringe Town Festival in February 2020 and winning Pick of the Fringe and best dance awards, Hawaiki TŪ presents a powerful Māori dance work ‘Taurite’ to launch the opening event of Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival.

Director of Hawaiki TŪ and kapa haka practitioner, Kura Te Ua (Te Rarawa, Ngāi Tūhoe) is excited to present ‘Taurite’ and what this Māori dance work means for an event that celebrates indigenous art and culture.

“The whakaaro for ‘Taurite’ embodies the virtue of balance and was born out of a need to consciously address things like globalisation. This vital and ritualistic experience invokes its ancestral roots in an indigenous physical expression of the contemporary journey to reclamation," says Kura.

The Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival will showcase a diverse range of art forms including theatre, te reo Māori, music, writing, visual and traditional art as well as film. 

It also supports Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori in the second week of September.

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