Dramatic waharoa or gateway feature of Taranaki lights festival

Taranaki artists will be a feature of the first-ever TSB Festival of the Lights Winter Pop-up event which opens in New Plymouth tonight.

A concept drawing of Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi.
Photo: Supplied

Haoro Hond, who normally uses a paintbrush to create, has been teamed up with leading New Zealand light artist Angus Muir, to create Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi.

The waharoa / gateway is one of 12 installations to feature in the four-day festival which runs until 26 June.

Standing 3 metres tall and 7 metres wide, Haoro (Te Āti Awa, Taranaki tuturu, Ngā Ruahinerangi, Ngai Tāmanuhiri) said the piece was a representation of the obstacles people must overcome when they challenged themselves to be creative.

“The reoccurring theme and messages behind my work will always be to empower our community to be artists. I encourage everyone to challenge themselves to think creatively,” Haoro said.

“It was a very humbling experience, in my opinion, to be able to create this, for our community.”

Festival organisers paired the two artists to create a uniquely Taranaki art piece.

Festival lead Lisa Ekdahl said Muir, who had worked alongside the TSB Festival of Lights for several years, and Haoro, who had a unique talent as a Māori artist and storyteller, were a perfect fit.

She said it was important to support and feature local artists.

“We’re a community festival at heart. We have so much local talent in Taranaki and the festival is committed to showcasing this homegrown talent when possible through our lighting and entertainment programme.”

Angus Muir (left) and Haoro Hond (right) work together on concepts for Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi.

Angus Muir (left) and Haoro Hond (right) work together on concepts for Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi.
Photo: Supplied

Three of the installations were created locally including a series of fire baskets called aumangea (resilience) from Ngāti Te Whiti artist Kristie-Leigh McCulloch and the team at Meco Engineering.

There is also a glow-in-the-dark mural from renowned street artist Flox which tells the story of Taranaki’s unique flora and fauna.

Normally, the Festival of Lights is held during summer Pukekura Park but was cancelled this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

This is the first time the event has been held in the CBD.

Fast facts

  • Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi is one of 12 installations at the TSB Festival of Lights: Winter Pop-Up
  • The four-day festival coincides with Matariki (known locally as Puanga), and runs from the 23 – 26 June from 5-10pm each night
  • The lighting route runs from the Huatoki Plaza to the Puke Ariki Landing and Coastal Walkway
  • The full lighting and entertainment line-up can be found at festivaloflights.nz
  • The summer festival attracts up to 125,000 people each year.

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