The Ngā Toi Advocacy Network’s hui are an opportunity for people in Tāmaki Makaurau’s ngā toi / arts and culture sector to meet bi-monthly, engage with thought leaders in the sector, and identify opportunities for advocacy action. During 2021, the network has provided platforms for provocation for inspiring speakers such as Rosabel Tan, Shona McElroy, Eynon Delamere, Nigel Borell, Ema Tavola, Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho, Rose Hiha-Agnew and Huia O’Sullivan. They opened conversations on issues such as decolonising thinking and practice in ngā toi spaces, and new forms of governance.
Each hui, facilitated by Eynon Delamere, Chantelle Whaiapu, Kylie Sealy and Jane Yonge, opens with a karakia and whakawhanaungatanga. The kaupapa and speaker is then introduced. Following the kōrero, the hui is opened up for updates and discussions on advocacy needs, actions and opportunities.
This is a brief overview of the primary focus of each of the hui of 2021.
Cat and Jessica shared their whakaaro, as disruptors and innovators in the arts, on ‘The Art of the Possible’, the current landscape of the arts sector, and their visions for the future. Key points from their kōrero included:
Speaker: Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho
Key points from Borni’s kōrero include:
Mana Motuhake, Tino Rangatiratanga, Self-Autonomy: self-care is not selfish. Leaders and members of the arts community need to prioritise themselves to offer stronger mahi. We need to reframe the whakaaro around self-care.
Speakers: Huia O’Sullivan & Rose Hiha-Agnew
Huia and Rose shared their experiences and thoughts on future models of governance, particularly in relation to rangatahi, wāhine, nannies, and healthy models of governance. Key points from the kōrero included:
Highlights of Huia’s and Rose’s kōrero can be read here.
Speakers: Shona McElroy, Ema Tavola & Nigel Borell
The kaupapa for this hui, hosted by Te Pou Theatre, was to consider ‘what next for innovation in arts and culture in Aotearoa?’ The kōrero began with an introduction from Shona to The Future Emerging: Innovation in Arts and Culture in Aotearoa’ think pieces published by Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi. The issues identified in these articles were to be used later in the hui as a springboard for participants to discuss where they have seen innovation work well, the conditions that foster innovation, the barriers to innovation, mātauranga Māori, and the wisdom that te ao Māori could bring to a conversation around innovation.
Artist-curators Ema Tavola and Nigel Borell then spoke about their experiences of innovation.
“Innovation – you can come from it from so many angles. One of the angles that, for me, and for Māori, I think often comes from innovation from the point of adversity and challenge. That can be a beautiful platform to prompt innovative movements and responses. COVID has been sort of a bit of that for everybody in different ways and thinking through where to next, and how to make the best out of the situation.” Nigel Borell
“As tauiwi, as people of the Pacific, like Nigel says, if things aren’t being done well for Māori then we have nothing. We are absolutely standing in the shadow of the indigenous people here. The measure, the gauge of innovation in this country is how much I believe Māori are leading that conversation.” Ema Tavola
Highlights of Ema’s and Nigel’s kōrero can be read here.
Participants broke into small groups, each focusing on one of the following questions:
Key points that emerged from the group discussions included:
Speakers: Shona McElroy & Eynon Delamere
Shona and Eynon, in collaboration with Chantelle Whaiapu and Jane Yonge, wrote a series of think pieces for Te Taumata-Toi-a-Iwi around the theme; The Future Emerging: Innovation in Arts and Culture in Aotearoa. For this hui, Shona and Eynon talked about the framing of the work, and the insights that emerged.
The motivation for the work was to identify where our arts and culture sector stands now, what kind of future we want to create, and how innovation can help us move forward. The intention was to draw on both mātauranga Māori and Western knowledge to think about innovation differently. In the first of the series the provocation was ‘what would it look like if we genuinely tried to rethink and reframe how we look at innovation’.
“From my perspective, innovation has now become a label that we use when we try something new. With the Ministry announcing the Innovation Fund, it got us thinking that if you fund innovation, you have to be ready for things not to come to fruition. That’s what innovation is all about in my mind. Over the last six or seven years, there has been a focus on looking at innovative ways of seeing the world and trying to match indigenous knowledge with scientific knowledge to come up with possible solutions for a number of issues. People like Rereata Makiha (one of the leading innovators from a Māori perspective), who uses the maramataka to link in te taio (the environment) to whatever he is talking about.” Eynon Delamere
“Slack in the system is one of the most important things for innovation to occur over the long term. How do we create space in how we live and work to allow deep thinking, connecting, creating, mental overheads, time to learn, connect, explore, to allow creative people to create innovation?” Shona McElroy
Speaker: Rosabel Tan
Rosabel shared the whakapapa of a think piece ‘We can build a new utopia – Reimagining the post-Covid ngā toi arts and culture sector in Aotearoa’. Commissioned by Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi; this was a reflection of Rosabel’s conversations with colleagues about the survival of the sector in the COVID-19 pandemic, and the leveraging of this challenge to address some of the big questions about the world views the arts sector is built on.
Questions raised by Rosabel at the hui included: how we centre a Māori world view in the way we approach the arts sector; how we layer in all the other world views and knowledges that make up our country; asking who is on your board or in your office, whose voices are you amplifying, and whose you hold in your heart when making decisions; who we are making art for; why our society is comfortable with artists living in poverty; and how do we change the metrics on how we value art, from looking at ‘the numbers’ to focusing on the impact and depth of the work.