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Mana Moana public art experience to be projected on Wellington waterfront

Still from Tūātea by Louise Potiki Bryant (Ngāi Tahu) 2020, featuring dancer Bianca Hyslop

Still from Tūātea by Louise Potiki Bryant (Ngāi Tahu) 2020, featuring dancer Bianca Hyslop.

A ground-breaking art installation curated by two artists and Massey staff members Rachael Rakena and Mike Bridgman, Mana Moana, is back on the water in Wellington this week with a spectacular showcase of contemporary art.

Mana Moana 2020 brings together Māori and Pacific visual artists, poets, musicians and choreographers from across Aotearoa to weave art and technology together. The result is 45 minutes of new multimedia and video artworks which speak to our relationships with water, the ocean and the need for collective action to ensure their survival.

New moving image artworks by more than 15 leading Māori and Pacific artists will be projected on a large water screen at Whairepo Lagoon over four nights from Thursday 19 to Sunday 22 November between 8.30pm to 10pm each night.

Co-curated by Rachael Rakena, Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi and Mike Bridgman, Tonga, Ngāti Pākeha, from Whiti o Rehua School of Art in the College of Creative Arts, the Mana Moana 2020 collection features Laughton Kora, Horomona Horo, Regan Balzer, Tina Ngata, Terri Ripeka Crawford, Warren Maxwell, Dr Johnson Witehira, Michel Tuffery, Kurt Komene, Kura Puke, Stuart Foster, Hinemoa Waikerepuru, Kereama Taepa, Dr Karlo Mila and Louise Pōtiki Bryant. The curators reached out to multimedia creatives and artists to produce new work that pushes the boundaries of the medium while also staying true to the kaupapa of the project.

Still from Rukuia by Dr Johnson Witehira and Warren Maxwell, 2020

Still from Rukuia by Dr Johnson Witehira and Warren Maxwell, 2020.

The Mana Moana experience is brought to life by the award-winning Wellington production company Storybox. The specialist team of designers and technicians have worked alongside the artist collective and curators throughout the process and say they are thrilled to see Mana Moana back on the water in Te Whanganui-a-Tara as a live public event on the specially engineered water screen.

“Mana Moana 2020’s kaupapa became a creative collaboration under COVID-19 lockdown conditions, with a strong theme emerging of healing. The power of water and the ocean to heal, and the urgent need for us to turn the tide to create a healing impact for our environment, towards upholding the mana of our moana,” says Rachael Rakena, co-curator of Mana Moana.

Storybox Director Rob Appierdo says Mana Moana is a powerful reflection of New Zealand. “These artworks, this project, is of the moment. The way they’re viewing the world through the lens of Mana Moana enables it to reflect the times.”

“There is so much healing in the experience of gathering and connecting. We are thrilled to present this mahi on the waterfront in November as it touches water in our physical environment,” Ms Rakena adds.

The 2020 collection builds on Mana Moana 2019, with many works this year reflecting a strong theme of wellbeing, balance and healing. Some of the artists brought these themes to their work as a response to the anxieties of 2020 and the global pandemic.

Mana Moana was launched as a ‘digital ocean’ earlier in the year in response to COVID-19 lockdown, which meant people worldwide could access the artworks online as an immersive digital experience. The seven artworks being projected onto a screen of water in November were commissioned earlier this year for Mana Moana Digital Ocean which won bronze for the Toitanga Award at the 2020 Best Design Awards in 2020.

The inaugural Mana Moana 2019 water screen project won Gold at the Best Design Awards last year and has gained international attention. It is being screened at the 2020 Nuit Blanche Festival in Toronto, Canada.

Mana Moana is made possible by support from Creative New Zealand, Wellington City Council and Massey University's Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts.

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