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Powerhouse Pair Join Forces In Major Festival Roles

22 Feb 2024

Two widely admired and successful creative minds have linked up to take on key positions that will impact some of Aotearoa's marquee events.

They're two of the leading names in the creative community - and now they will pack a punch as a dynamic duo.

Tāwhiri - the organisation that helms the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts; Wellington Jazz Festival; Lexus Song Quest and Te Hui Ahurei Reo Māori o Te Whanganui-a-Tara - has revealed the major acquisitions of Dolina Wehipeihana and Tama Waipara as their two new Festival Co-Directors.

It's a substantial coup, given the impact both have made in a variety of roles throughout their respective careers.

Wehipeihana (Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Raukawa) has a remarkable background as a producer, arts manager, choreographer and performer - racking up a string of successes with some major organisations. 

She's been a key figure with the Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ) and its widely acclaimed Arts Market as Kaiārahi Māori | Director, Māori - and has spent time as Head of Programming at Auckland Arts Festival, General Manager of Kia Mau Festival, co-director of Betsy & Mana Productions and is currently Board Co-chair of Atamira Dance Company.

Like, Wehipeihana, Waipara (Ruapani, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou) has developed a strong reputation as one of the creative community's thought leaders. He's proven himself as the Chief Executive/ Artistic Director of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival in Gisborne, as well as being a Board member of The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Deputy Chair of the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust Group. A multi-award-winning composer, singer/songwriter, musician and performer, Waipara was recently awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori music.

They already have a strong working relationship over a range of arts projects and festivals, collectively stating “We are excited at the opportunity to work in a place rich with story, legacy and creative powerhouses stretching all the way back. Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts is a potent platform to showcase our nation’s stories and connect to the world. 

"We are proud to join the team at Tāwhiri and embrace the power that the arts have to bring people together. He honore nui tēnei, nā māua te whiwhi.”

The pairing has already been described as a dream team - and Tāwhiri Executive Director Angela Green is equally as effervescent of the appointment.

“Tama and Dolina bring a wealth of experience and networks in the international and national performing arts arena. Between them they have built an extraordinary legacy of impact across the sector in Aotearoa New Zealand: as artists, producers, cultural leaders, mentors, and in governance and strategy. They have created arts experiences and festivals that have delighted, challenged, inspired and brought communities together. 

"Audiences will experience their stunning and powerful programmes at our festivals and events from late 2024. I can’t wait to work in partnership with Tama and Dolina to imagine and realise a bold future where our artists, audiences and region thrive through the power of arts, culture and Ngā Toi Māori.”

The news comes on the eve of the 2024 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, which will mark the swansong for Tāwhiri Creative Director Marnie Karmelita and Director Ngā Toi Māori Mere Boynton, who announced they were moving on at the end of last year.

Wehipeihana and Waipara will commence their Co-Director roles in June.