Ngāi Tahu artists prepare Te Matatini venue

Nathan Pohio - working to create a memorable Te Matatini venue.

Nathan Pohio – working to create a memorable Te Matatini venue.

A team of Ngāi Tahu artists have rallied together to dress the venue for Te Matatini 2015.

Ngāi Tahu artist, Nathan Pohio (Ngāti Wheke, Ngāi Tūāhuriri) coordinates the group and is currently helping to support and facilitate 20 art related projects for dressing the site for Te Matatini. Besides assisting artists he has several projects to manage for the venue.

“I’ve been assisting artists in the development of their projects and making sure their ideas are deliverable,” he says.

Nathan says that although the projects are all different they have been inspired by the theme of this year’s festival – He Ngākau Aroha – A loving heart; and each artist’s interpretation of Ngāi Tahutanga.

“The artists have produced work in quite a stylish and elegant way – they’re all bringing their A-game and meeting the various challenges thrown at them. I’m thrilled with what is developing. We are working hard to deliver everything and make it sing, look right, feel right,” he says.

Without giving too much away, Nathan says he hopes visitors leave the festival remembering how the venue looked and he hopes that it helps to uphold the mana of Ngāi Tahu.

“If I was to paint a picture for whānau, I would say we are all working towards a strong concept, bright and colourful in nature – a festive environment where everyone feels welcome and proud of who and where they are. We want our whānau and manuhiri to feel the aroha we have for them.”

This kind of role is a first for Nathan however he has been a part of the local art world since he was 18. He is currently a practising artist and is employed as an exhibition designer at the Christchurch Art Gallery – Te Puna o Waiwhetu. He is also a board member of the Physics Room, and member of Paemanu, the Ngai Tahu contemporary visual arts group.

Nathan went to Aranui High School and says during that time he was a member of the school’s kapa haka group and Te Kotahitanga. These days he doesn’t take an active part in Māori performing arts but says he still enjoys watching others perform.

Although his role for Te Matatini is voluntary, he says he has received  generous support, from Ngāi Tahu, the Christchurch art community and the local business community.

Canterbury Museum in particular has been quietly working in the background on significant elements. He adds that the museum has agreed to loan objects that are both significant and historic.

“I feel quite honored to be working on Te Matatini. It’s an honour to be able to bring my area of work to my people as it does not happen often – that is a big deal for me. I intend to be present at the festival to ensure everything is holding up for the event. I’ll get involved where needed and lend a hand but I also look forward to just taking it all in,” he says.