This week we received some news that has generated a fair few high fives and even the odd modified fist pump amongst the crew. Gizzy Local has been awarded funding from Creative New Zealand for a project in which six local creatives will dig deep into some issues of local relevance and communicate these with our community via Gizzy Local.
This project will enable us to sustain our mahi to facilitate connection amongst our community as well as help us to move forward with our kaupapa of creating more opportunities for our local creatives.
We believe that the creative process is a really valuable means of investigation, and the creative voice an effective and meaningful way to engage and communicate with a diverse audience. This project gives us the opportunity to demonstrate this at the same times as showcasing six different local artists and their unique approaches to our wider community.
We look forward to introducing these artists with you over the coming weeks! Enjoy your long weekend..
Now that we’ve all got a few early nights under our belts, it feels like a good time to reflect on the second year of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.
Each edition has been deeply influenced by the circumstances of the year in which they were held. Last year the inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival coincided with Tuia 250 and as Tama Waipara noted, “everybody was exhausted. Iwi were getting up every morning to stand up kaupapa across the district” and emotion was high. The Festival was brand new, the tickets were cheap, and between Tuia 250 and the Festival there was a lot going on.
This year Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival coincided delightfully with a return to Level 1 – a turn of phrase that wouldn’t have meant a thing to anyone a year ago. In this year so utterly defined by the Covid-19 Pandemic, TTAF 2020 in Level 1 offered the perfect excuse for us all to re-emerge and reconnect. Tama reflected on the “presence of uplift” as people came out and “reclaimed space after a period of anxiety, fear and worry with lockdown”.
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You will not find an arts festival like Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival anywhere else in the country, as it is by its very definition ‘of this place’. Firmly rooted in Tangatawhenuatanga, it is place-based and comes from the knowledge that we are all culturally located. It is a space that has been claimed for our stories, in our voices, for our people.
I have enjoyed the aspects of continuity from 2019 to 2020. Just as the Festival itself has settled into its own bones, so too has Te Ara I Whiti grown into itself, this year bringing the riverbank alive with barefoot kids in pyjamas and parents jogging to keep up. It was cool to be able to wander amongst the light installations and sculptures and be able to guess at the artists behind the works, knowing that through this platform and over time, the expressions of our artists become a recognisable and familiar part of our story.
It has been awesome to see in ourselves a community which can and does engage with the arts, which shows up to theatres and other venues in droves, steps up and interacts as active participant when asked to do so; a community that floods our eateries and bars before and after events, who can and do bring our CBD to life when the goods are there on offer.
It has been heartening to both observe and experience the flow-on effect of inspiration – the inspiration derived from bearing witness to, or experiencing the creative expression of another, especially when that creative expression comes from someone who looks or sounds like you, who lives in the same part of town as you, or who you might recognise from the farmer’s market. I look forward to seeing who is compelled to add their voice to Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival stable in the future after experiencing what they have in this year’s offerings.
Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will be a potent force for many many years to come, in helping our community find its voice; its many voices, offering us the opportunity to understand ourselves and each other better. Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival also offers an important platform for our creatives, laying down the challenge, ‘What is your expression of this place, your place and your people, in these times? What will you add to this story?’
As hunters we just wanted to give back. Over our time hunting and fishing the Upper Waioeka we have seen Whio numbers plummet to the point where we thought we would lose these comical little creatures from the area’s rivers all together.
We managed to pull together a group of like-minded backcountry individuals by leaving notes in local hut books and writing in hunting magazines asking for help. The reply was deafening, turns out hunters really do care about the environments they hunt in and in particular the Waioeka. We now have volunteers from as far away as the South Island, Wellington, Tauranga and Gisborne all signing up to help.
Luckily Game Gear came to the party and decided to back the project financially. It’s somewhere the owner has hunted for years and the idea of conservation had been on his mind for some time. He just needed an ethical way to go about it.
We have been inundated with volunteers. The local Enviroschools Wai Restoration Programme helped us to lay out 3.5km of accessible trapline in just one afternoon. It’s incredible to see such a program producing such skilled conservationists. If I had the means, I’d employ these students tomorrow but told them they need to finish school first. Everyone is keen to get involved from retirees to school groups. The Goodnature A24 stoat traps we are using only need to be checked twice a year and two weekends is something our busy volunteer force is happy to commit to.
Currently we have 17km of trapline comprising of 170 odd traps under protection, with a plan to lay out another 9km in August. There’s still a lot of available river habitat and plenty of territories for juvenile Whio to move into.
Seeing some incredible early success with multiple kills under most traps and birds paired up ready to produce their first clutch of chicks in a long time this season, we are looking to expand the project. Theres still some prime Whio habitat that needs protecting and we have the volunteers to do it.
We just need local businesses to get involved and support this groundbreaking project for the region with sponsorship of traps, lures and gas. It’s a great story to tell and makes for some pretty exciting staff trips.
For a long time hunters have been seen as the antithesis of conservation but we are here to say that’s simply not the case. We care about the environment and are giving back just as much if not more than any other backcountry user group and are having a lot of fun doing it.
If you’re keen to get involved with the Eastern Whio Link contact Sam Gibson on 0277750016 email@example.com or @sam_the_trap_man on instagram.
If you’ve braved it into the shops post-lockdown you will have noticed that lots of place have had to reconfigure their spaces to fit with the physical distancing requirements of the day.
For many, this initially involved a table across the entrance, for some it’s been the opportunistic ‘window-servery’, and for Dave Whitfield and Amy Campbell of Frank & Albie’s, this involved putting their entire set up, kitchen and all on wheels, and moving it around in some kind of heavy-duty Tetris game until it was fit for purpose.
The other thing they did was to commission Hiria Philip Barbara to do a painting for the fresh food outlet, which has become the centrepiece and the backdrop for the newly-reconfigured space.
Hiria’s sister Livvy is a part of the Frank & Albie’s crew (as was her brother before her) and Hiria had already painted a smaller piece for the sandwich and salad joint before lock down featuring bees; nature’s own essential workers.
In conceptualising this larger piece Hiria says it was a continuation of that theme of celebrating nature; as the Frank & Albie’s crew were the ones who would be around it the most she wanted to create something that would make them happy. So she worked hard to incorporate people’s favourite foliage as well as the real-life indoor plants that already live in the space, such as the Rubber Plant and Peace Lily.
Adding in a Tī Kōuka at her mum Glenis’s request, a tangle of Jasmine for sister Livvy, and a Monarch chrysalis in reference to the life they’d been watching unfold on the swan plants at home during lock down, Hiria’s painting provides this lovely sense of indoor-outdoor flow.
While Hiria has spent periods of her life in both artistic and education spaces, as a Kohanga Reo teacher, a Nanny and coaching Waka Ama, she has found herself moving more and more into her art space since returning home to Tūranga Gisborne.
In the past Hiria’s focus has been on photography, and last year her final piece for Toihoukura took the shape of a soundscape, but right now she is returning to her earliest days, when she remembers helping her Aunty Huhana (contemporary Māori artist and head of Massey University’s Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Huhana Smith) prep her canvases, mix her colours and paint the edges of her canvases for her.
Hiria has started thinking about what she’d like to paint next. Keep a look out for her work around town, and her special way of signing it. If you spot a small bee somewhere in an artwork – you may be looking at a piece of Hiria’s work.
Never has Gisborne seen so many booties on bike seats – the cyclists’ renaissance is truly here. As reported in The Guardian, ‘Bicycles are the new toilet paper’. Sales are booming and shops are running low on stock. Because let’s face it: Walking sucks. It’s boring, you don’t go far and it takes an age to get anywhere.
For any reputable cyclist city one thing is a must: A community bike shed. The first space I went to was a Melbourne spot called The Bike Shed (not very creative with the name). They had old bikes ready to be repaired with helpful volunteers who’d not lift a spanner for the world… Instead, they would happily teach anyone how to fix a bike and had tools ready for willing hands. Bring in a bent wheel and you’d leave with it straight.
“Can you fix my bike for me?”
“No. We are not a bike shop and will not fix your bike for you. However, we will teach you to fix your bike.”
Taken from The Bike Shed’s FAQ page.
The reason it works is because of the overabundance of broken bikes. They’re everywhere, under the house, in the garage, on the roof and ready for repair. If you’re missing a pedal, you can replace it or give the remains to a bike shed and contribute to someone else’s two-wheeled Frankenstein transportation device.
This is not some wacky new idea, the country is bountiful with bike sheds. Auckland has Tumeke Cycle Space and Christchurch RAD Bikes. There’s a bike shed in nearly every corner of the globe and it is now time for an East Coast addition.
If you’re wondering where on earth to start, there’s a handy little how-to guide called How to Start a Bike Kitchen set up by folks in the urban cycling Mecca, Portland.
To make this work we need to get our cogs into gear:
First, we need a space. As retail struggles and the popularity of ‘for lease’ signs boom, we need to repurpose our city-centre as a space for our community to share. We need to find a shop to share with like-minded souls, or simply populate one of the empty ones and fill it with tools, local tinkers and comfortable couches.
Second, we need parts! Bikes gathering dust can be brought to the shed and put to good use. Dull and dead bikes can be torn apart, stripped of parts and stored for the next repair. Decent ones can be kept aside for new riders to build upon and to repair their bikes for cheap.
Finally, we need you. Community members with cognition of cycles, who prefer their hands dirty with grease, and who like to dabble in a chin wag and share a little bike knowledge. The East Coast is numerous in engineers, builders, sculptors and DIY-ers. If we feed you enough coffee and biscuits can we get this city cycling?!
We have a thriving mountain biking community, flatlands and plenty of know-how. We have the opportunity to build the future we want. We don’t need to ask for a better city, in the true DIY spirit, we need to do it ourselves.
If you’re interested in being a spoke in the wheel of our cycling revolution, get in touch. We need all the Gizzy locals we can get to donate old bikes, slurp a cup of coffee and help bring about the grand opening of Gisborne’s first community bike shed.