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The Belau Festival is over but here's some great recollections

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The Belau Festival is over but here's some great recollections to help spread the spirit of the festival.. Courtesy of Radio New Zealand …

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The Belau Festival is over but here's some great recollections to help spread the spirit of the festival..

Courtesy of Radio New Zealand

Presenter (Lynn Freeman): The 200-strong New Zealand delegation at the Pacific Arts Festival in the Micronesian republic of Belau is heading home in a couple of days, tired but inspired. Earlier I spoke to Moerangi Vercoe from Creative New Zealand, and to weaver, Tina Wirihana in Belau and asked Moerangi to paint us a picture of the festival.

Image: Detail of cloak by Suzanne TamakiThe Belau Festival is over but here's some great recollections to help spread the spirit of the festival..

Courtesy of Radio New Zealand

Presenter (Lynn Freeman): The 200-strong New Zealand delegation at the Pacific Arts Festival in the Micronesian republic of Belau is heading home in a couple of days, tired but inspired. Earlier I spoke to Moerangi Vercoe from Creative New Zealand, and to weaver, Tina Wirihana in Belau and asked Moerangi to paint us a picture of the festival.

Image: Detail of cloak by Suzanne TamakiMoerangi Vercoe (Creative NZ): It's huge, there's about two and a half to three thousand participants. It's incredibly colourful, incredibly vibrant and you know, we just can't describe it really. The Belauan people are wonderful. They've done an amazing job organising a festival this size and they've done so with so much grace and energy and are the most hospitable people I think we've ever come across.

Presenter: How has the New Zealand work been received?

Vercoe: It's really exciting. I mean the work is outstanding, it's of a world quality. It's got that traditional nature to it but also a whole lot of sort of really exciting contemporary things that stand out in this festival because they are so different.

Presenter: I wondered about that. I thought there may be a contemporary feel to this that may not be from some of the other contributing areas?

Vercoe: Yes, I think that's correct. For example in the fashion show that New Zealand were part of, our take on that was quite different from all of the other countries in that it had such a modern feel to it. It did have the traditional outfits but it also had some really, really exciting fashion that had very much a Maori flavour to it. It showed off the moko that Derek Lardelli has done and it showed off the taonga puru skills, the traditional Maori music of James Webster, our expert in that area. It was a really exciting mix of our arts forms.

Presenter: When you leave Belau, what do you think will be some of your lasting memories of what you've seen and experienced there?

Vercoe: As far as other countries that stand out, I think the men dancers and musicians from the Solomon Islands are amazing. I've seen them a couple of times and they managed to dance and play bamboo musical instruments at the same time. They're pretty incredible to watch. The performers from the countries like Rapanui, the Easter Islands, are really exciting. here's some great crafts and arts on sale in the international village that's been created. New Zealand is a bit different there in that we're not using our booth as a sales place, we're using it strictly for demonstration and that's creating a lot of interest in itself in that people can come and actually watch the artists at work; watch our carvers; watch our clay artists; watch our weavers; watch our painters, and it's become a wee bit of a gathering place for a lot of artists. I was there this morning and we had some painters demonstrating. Sitting with them was another painter from Tonga who had seem them working and came to sit beside them and they were all sort of interacting that way.

Presenter: One of the reasons for going also was for some of the artists to help the people of Belau who are in danger of losing some of their traditional forms. How is that going?

Vercoe: Probably best that you ask Tina about that. I know that she's working with some local Belauan women on papermaking.

Wirihana: Well, I wanted to really share with them the papermaking process because it was totally new to them and they're not really a tapa people as well, and just so that they can actually utilise their fibres within their materials they already have here because they are doing the weaving but they are not using the fibres for anything else other than that. And I went to the senior citizens which were a group of middle-aged women, and men, and they were just so excited about the whole process. So I'll be leaving probably most of my equipment here so that they can actually use it to make their own by using what I'm going to leave behind.

Presenter: Oh Tina, what a remarkable experience for you; to teach and to know that you're leaving such an invaluable legacy behind?

Wirihana: That's right and that was my intention, so that we can leave something rather than take from the people. I really wanted - and that's been my main focus really, and also looking at the parallels of their lashing, so this morning I've been spending my time working on the tukutuku process and I've had two Belauan people beside me and they're pretty keen on wanting to know the processes and the meanings behind that, so that's another area that I'd be behind, so I'm excited about that.

Presenter: You may be leaving your equipment behind Tina but I imagine that you're going to bring back a lot of inspiration?

Wirihana: Yes, and that's - [indistinct] kohai [phon], grace and wai Gregory who you've been just talking about this morning, that what we want to do is to come back and the three of us put an exhibition together probably in 18 months. We're just going to reflect and acknowledge our experience here in Belau so we've just discussed that this morning and we want to further discuss it before we leave the island. So that's an exciting legacy for us too.

Presenter: And I was talking to Moerangi Vercoe from Creative New Zealand, and weaver, Tina Wirihana who have been taking part in the Pacific Arts Festival in Belau.

www.festival-pacific-arts.org

Written by

Arts Work Project

3 Aug 2004

Interests Creative Industries development