Making connections, creating authentic partnerships and building confidence were among the comments made about a series of wānanga being delivered to creative spaces throughout Aotearoa over the past four months. 

In 2023, Arts Access Aotearoa partnered with Marilyn and Marty Vreede of Pakohe Whanganui Ltd to deliver cultural comfortability wānanga to creative spaces. These free wānanga were funded through Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage as part of Arts Access Aotearoa’s professional development programme for creative spaces.

The wānanga were a response to creative spaces’ request for support in building authentic relationships with local iwi and hapū. 

Bringing cultural comfortability to creative spaces around the motu

The first was held on the West Coast in November, followed by Auckland in December, Christchurch and Dunedin in January, and Hamilton and Nelson in February.

A wānanga was held in Wellington on 7 March at Vogelmorn Community Hall. A Palmerston North wānanga will be held in late March. 

Marilyn and Marty were pleased to see a strong turnout of 18 participants at the Wellington wānanga, eager to learn and engage. 

"We are certainly in exciting times and sharing with people who really want to know is a facilitator’s dream. Thank you, Arts Access Aotearoa, for opening hearts to new learning, new relationships, and new opportunities. Ngā mihi maioha," Marilyn says.

Fiona Waitere, Creative Spaces Projects Coordinator Kairuruku a toi Kaupapa at Arts Access Aotearoa, says the response to the wānanga has been extremely positive. “Attendees have said they felt empowered to start building relationships with mana whenua. They left with a sense of responsibility and understanding of the tikanga they were bringing to their organisations.

“In the wānanga, Marilyn and Marty unpack the fundamental foundation of building relationships – whakawhanaungatanga. We explore the similarities among us and the things that connect us to one and other. In doing this, we feel more comfortable about exploring relationships with Māori organisations and mana whenua.” 

Delving into significance of Māori culture

Throughout the day-long interactive workshop, staff and management of Pōneke-based creative spaces, led by Marilyn and Marty, delved into the significance of various aspects of Māori culture. The sessions encompassed essential components such as karakia (prayer), whakawhanaungatanga (relationship building) and He mana tō te kupu (honouring the language).

Participants were guided through whakawhanaungatanga, emphasising the importance of communication, and establishing connections. The morning session included an explanation of a frequently used karakia, facilitating a deeper understanding of its significance in contemporary contexts and helping the attendees understand the importance of Atua as the recipients within a karakia.

As the day progressed, attendees were encouraged to participate actively in discussions surrounding Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and its integration into educational practices, reinforcing the importance of cultural competency within creative spaces.

The Palmerston North wānanga, scheduled for late March, promises to further enrich the professional development journey of creative spaces throughout Aotearoa, reinforcing the ongoing commitment to cultural competency and collaboration within the arts sector.

Wānanga inspire creative spaces


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