The Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Whangarei continues to make transformational social change and be a source of pride for Te Tai Tokerau. It’s reputation as a world class centre of indigenous excellence has grown as our unique heritage is preserved, cultural identity strengthened, and cross-cultural connectedness encouraged.
Expansion is now underway and there are new facilities coming soon – a stone carving workshop and cafe/restaurant on site.
Hihiaua is a creative and entrepreneurial hub for a unified community to gather, be inspired, and build relationships. At Hihiaua people find a sense of belonging, are resourced with matauranga tuku iho and tikanga, and are empowered by the leaders and knowledge holders that visit and work there. At Hihiaua young people can strive for a better future grounded in tikanga. Additionally, a goal of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust has been to provide visitors with meaningful experiences and interactions so they may learn new knowledge and skills, and be inspired to take part in authentic and mana enhancing cultural exchange. Hihiaua allows learners and students to easily and comfortably engage with experts, teachers, mentors, and other creatives to build their capability in an authentic cultural setting. Founding Hihiaua trustee, Tohunga Whakairo Te Warihi Hetaraka, reminds people that Hihiaua is a place where everyone can stand proudly in their own cultural heritage, and where we as tangata whenua can reclaim, restore, and renew our own cultural identity through mahi toi. Hihiaua kaiwhakairo and ringatoi are increasingly engaged in significant local and national projects while young and/or emerging artists are encouraged to fulfill their potential.
Last weekend Hihiaua staged Papaki Tū, an exhibition of works of contemporary Tai Tokerau weavers coinciding with the national weavers bi-annual conference at Te Pukenga. The exhibition highlighted the diversity and beauty of Maori weaving and spoke to the theme of salutation and remembrance. This past year Hihiaua has hosted six solo and group exhibitions, more than 40 wananga and workshops and a similar number of public events while supporting more than 80 tingatoi to exhibit and sell their work.
There have been many other important events in the last year that supported social and cultural transformation for our community, including the presentation of Te Ra Ringa Raupa’s
esponse to the wero of Te Rangihiroa 100 years ago, to study and recreate Te Rā, the oldest Māori sail, currently housed in the British Museum, Ron Te Kawa’s whakapapa quilts workshop, a week of creativity, colour and joy, which offered participants a space to explore whakapapa, mental health and cultural identity through quilt-making and Tohunga Talks as part of Matariki celebrations. Te Hiringa and Whāriki Business Support held a series of events to help Māori small-business owners to access tailored assistance for funding, advice, support, and opportunities to grow their pakihi.
Te Kowhai Print Trust will be held their annual fundraising event, Printapalooza, at
Hihiaua on the weekend furthering echoing the assertion that Hihiaua belongs to everyone.