At a time of crisis it is worth taking time to observe what we are learning, and think about how that might shape the world we will live in when the crisis has passed.
As New Zealanders hunker down over the next month as the country battles COVID-19, many of us will be sustained emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually by the films we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read. Some of us will find time for our own creative pursuits, painting, songwriting, carving, storytelling or weaving. The arts, in their broadest sense, will carry us through this rare spell of home-based solitude. This is a time in which we will be reminded of how central the arts are to our lives. If that spurs more support for our arts community, that would be some consolation from this historic event.
Before COVID-19 hit, Te Taumata Toi-A- Iwi, as the regional arts trust for Auckland, was already looking at the role we could play in building recognition and support for the arts in Tamaki Makaurau. We thought about how we build on our legacy, our unique role as a regional organisation for the creative sector and respond to the evolving nature of Auckland as one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities – and the world’s largest Polynesian city.
As an organisation, we have strong foundations to build on. We have an alumni of over 80 people from the sector who have participated in our programmes over the last twenty years. This is a distinguished group of arts sector leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Programmes such as ART Venture, which supported entrepreneurs across a wide range of creative endeavours, helped build a stronger regional arts ecosystem. Some 90% of the participants continue to work in Auckland and contribute to the creative sector and economy in the region.
The strengthening of the ecosystem that makes Tāmaki Makaurau a city alive with creativity will be the primary focus of Te Taumata Toi-A-Iwi over the coming years. We want to create a stronger sector voice, build a clearer understanding of the sector’s needs, and encourage a strategic and collaborative response to those needs.
Our whakatauki “Whaia te toi huarewa o te auahatanga, hei kete toitoi manawa mō Tāmaki Makaurau” encourages us to Seek the pathway of creativity as a kete of inspiration for Auckland. These are the words that are at the heart of our new strategy. Our role will be to help map and light that pathway through creating space for creative conversations. The purpose of these is to build and support a connected and collaborative creative network, which can help drive innovation and impact. We will also invite others to join us. That will see us work to build relationships with and between the creative sector’s wider group of stakeholders, including creative investors. That will include increased engagement with the Māori and Pacific creative sectors.
To symbolise our new direction we will use for our primary name our te reo name Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi. This was gifted to us by Sir Hugh Kawharu when we were founded. It references the many summits of Tamaki Makaurau, the volcanic cones that define our isthmus, and the vantage points on which we stand to see our world. Metaphorically, taumata references the aspirations of our artists, and the landscape of support which enables the creative activities of our communities.
Our new brand draws on our name and whakatauki for its inspiration. It demonstrates how the open strands within a weave create pathways reaching toward the heavens. The strands also suggest collaboration where ideas and strategies intersect, and the strength and direction that comes from working together.
This is a remarkable city, filled with people from ngā hau e whā. Te Taumata Toi-A- Iwi want Tāmaki Makaurau to be known for its creative and cultural identity, a place where the creative energy of one of the world’s most diverse cities is supported and celebrated to nourish the wellbeing of our communities. That’s the vision we keep pursuing once we are out of lockdown.