From the CEO

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu,
Arihia Bennett

The year began with a festival of Māori performing arts as Christchurch hosted Te Matatini Kapa Haka Aotearoa. Leading up to the event I watched exponents weave the traditional stories of whakapapa and kōrero into an eloquent demonstration of kapa haka during practice sessions.

Our artistic talent may be of right brain origin. However, my recent introduction to Ngāi Tahu waiata (while attempting to adopt the infamous Ngāti Porou swing) for the pōwhiri practice for Te Matatini certainly drew out the left brain requirements, as kaiako promptly advised me on the correct articulation.

Artistic expression is alive and well in each of us, and any opportunity to demonstrate this should be celebrated. I once entered a karaoke competition and was embarrassingly reminded it was quite different from singing along to the car radio. Nevertheless, I was willing to have a go. I now know that my dream of being a Gladys Knight clone will probably not come to fruition and I will stick with my day job.

They say that art is in the eye of the beholder and that we all have an opinion. Whether it is visual, cultural, dance, music, or drama, enabling artists to bring their talent to the fore requires an open mind; and we need to put our old-fashioned judgments aside so that we can harness the creative talent that is right in front of us. You only have to look at The X Factor for buckets of talent with no boundaries. It may be edgy and disruptive, but stretching beyond the norm is what will enable a culture of innovative art to develop. So don’t be afraid, but instead embrace it.

In the months to come following Te Matatini we will see many forms of dynamic art expression on display. One example of a young Ngāi Tahu leader in art and culture is Charisma Rangipunga, who as an accomplished children’s book author has been chosen as guest of honour at the Taipei International Book Exhibition. Another is James Buchanan, who has just been offered a place in the exclusive Professional Music Theatre at the Arts Educational School in London. This school has produced such legends as Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench.

There are artists amongst us, and the best talent scouts are often in our own whānau. They are mainly our tāua and pōua, as they proudly form the cheerleading committees for their mokopuna for first drawings, sports events, school plays, and music festivals. You never know, this could be the beginning of a special journey that sets a unique career pathway. For me, I will keep to my knitting and continue to practice the art of being an effective tribal CEO.