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Pūkana exhibition opens at National Library – “what we did back then”

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A celebration of iconic Māori moments in performance officially opened at the National Library of New Zealand tonight.

Performers such as Tina Cross, Mika, and Syd Reweti, a member of the Porgy & Bess cast, were among the invited guests at Pūkana, the first of two centenary exhibitions that draw on the rich taonga in the Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL) collections, to showcase and celebrate Māori in performing arts.

“Performance is at the heart of Māori culture, and the way Māori engage with each other and the world.” says Chris Szekely ATL Chief Librarian.

Pūkana explores the interplay between Māori cultural traditions and Western performance practices focusing on music, poetry, theatre and dance.

“This interplay commenced from the earliest encounters documented in Cook’s voyages and continues today in myriad live, recorded and digital forms,” Szekely says.

Exhibition highlights include instances where Māori have achieved national and international recognition for performance excellence and contributed to a shared sense of national identity and pride.

Māori luminaries such as Kiri Te Kanawa, Hone Tuwhare, George Henare, Inia Te Wiata and Jim Moriarty are among those highlighted by the exhibition.

Alongside the exhibition are a number of events, which will include an upcoming performance on 18 October celebrating the 40th anniversary of when Tina Cross won the Pacific Song Contest in 1979 with the Carl Doy song “Nothing But Dreams”.

For Tina Cross ONZM, it’s an honour to be named alongside iconic performers in Māoridom.

“Just knowing that what we did back then, which was a defining moment for me, is being highlighted as part of our Māori performance, that’s really important to me.” says Tina.

Pūkana is now showing until 23 May 2020 at National Library of New Zealand, part of Te Tari Taiwhenua Internal Affairs.

https://natlib.govt.nz/visiting/wellington/pukana-exhibition

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