Home  /  Stories  / 

VIDEO: Young Māori Creatives Shine Bright

11 Jul 2023

VIDEO: Representation matters - Four talented wāhine explain why being authentic matters as they embrace Te Ao Toi by their own rules. 

Written by

Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho


This video is made with the support of NZ on Air Public Interest Journalism Fund.

At the 2023 Auckland Writers Festival, a quartet of wāhine toa spoke of their desire to defy creative barriers - entirely in te reo Māori.

Taking part in the Tuatahi event were founding member of award-winning slam poetry group Ngā Hine Pūkōrero, Arihia Hall (Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Tūkorehe); Qianna Titore (Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Kaharau), the youngest director ever selected for the NZ International Film Festival; children's author Brianne Te Paa (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Te Whānau-a- Apanui), along with MC and actress Hariata Moriarty (Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, Ngā Puhi Hokianga ki te Raki).

This is kaupapa close to the heart of Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho (Te Arawa, Tūhoe, Tuwharetoa).  is a creative sector leader both as a leading Arts and Hauora/Mental Health Advocate with Taurima Vibes and as the Director of Auckland Fringe.

A respected arts and hauora/mental health advocate and the Kaiwhakahaere/Director of Taurima Vibes Trust and Te Ora Auaha and Auckland Fringe Festival, Tukiwaho explains why this video carries so much significance to him.


It's always incredibly moving to see our rangatahi stand in their own power - authentically, unequivocally themselves and without reservation. 

Hariata speaks of our lineage being one "Where their way of communicating is through telling stories, we’re an aural tradition. It's in your blood to do this this." 

It is. Our creativity has always been an innate part of our existence. 

Movement was vital for dexterity, waiata and moteatea woven into the fabric of our tikanga and processes. As Brianne says in this video, "Lots of people are coming to Māori to figure out how to do it - how to get their stories told - Pākehā are embracing that as well."

The ease and confidence with which these four eloquent wāhine toa show themselves to be is a new level of representation that we need for our creative sector. 

Power in Te Reo

It’s less than 80 years since Te Reo was being ‘taught’ out of our people. It was against the rules to speak Te Reo in many places, rangatahi were punished if caught speaking Te Reo in schools. As late as the 50’s/60’s - especially in rural Aotearoa - this generation was systematically being stripped of their identity and forced to assimilate. 

Fortunately, whānau from these and subsequent generations stood tall and refused to submit. In this kaupapa, we get to see through the likes of Hariata, Arihia, Brianne and Qianna not only their amazing contributions to Te Ao Toi, but also rangatahi māori flourishing in action. 

Through their kōrero, we have front-row seats that allow us to view how they are contributing to a strengthening rhetoric of invitation to other rangatahi Māori creatives - weaving a wero through invitation.

Qianna's words ring true. "Talk to your family and friends first not just to get what their thoughts are but to get that support that you need. When my mother was very sick, I had my sister - she pushed me to do everything I could because she saw that spark in me that I didn't see myself.

"If you have an idea act upon it we all have so many stories to tell and we just have to get over any fears or apprehensions and just share our stories."

Screen Shot 2023-07-11 at 2.43.26 AM.png
 Arihia Hall, Qianna Titore, Brianne Te Paa and Hariata Moriarty. Photos: Supplied.

Tino ataahua tēnai kaupapa - but these types of kaupapa that have our rangatahi at the forefront. Our wāhine toa, Māori, our reo as the core kaupapa and leading language. 

They shouldn't be celebrated because they are new, fresh or ‘exciting’. They need to be celebrated because they are insightful, strengthening, authentically connective and intrinsically Māori led. All of the adjectives!

Making a difference

"There's always going to be that feeling that you shouldn't stand, that you shouldn't speak. My advice to other creatives is that you have to push through that because what you have to say is important and it needs to be heard," Arihia states.

The construct of what our status quo is needs to shift. The concept of what is ‘the norm’ constantly needs to be redefined for our rangatahi, with spaces by Māori, with Māori leading, for Māori. 

Reclamation of Te Reo in the mainstream is a long journey and although the tide is changing, there are still multiple layers and lived experiences to take into consideration when thinking about representation - or what that even is. 

"It does feel like the appreciation for Māori voices is increasing - I feel like our country is finally wanting to learn more, which is heartwarming," Arihia explains.

It is a pleasure to spend a few minutes with the four wāhine who allow us an insight into who they are as creatives, the kakano that feed into their whakaaro and ngā ara mahi. 

Our rangatahi are the strongest tools we have for building equitable space, positive visibility and redefining the constructs of what status quo means. 

Hariata, Brianne, Arihia and Qianna are shining examples of what our creative industry has to look forward to. I for one, wait with bated breath to see the pathways they will carve.

Representation matters.

For more on The Big Idea's video series - click here.


More about Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho

Also written