Dramatic Waharoa or Taranaki Festival of Lights Gateway Element

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Taranaki artists will be a star at the first-ever TSB Festival of the Lights winter pop-up event which opens tonight in New Plymouth.

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

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

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

Measuring 3 meters high and 7 meters wide, Haoro (Te Āti Awa, Taranaki tuturu, Ngā Ruahinerangi, Ngai Tāmanuhiri) said the piece was a representation of the obstacles people have to overcome when challenging themselves to be creative.

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“The recurring 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 organizers paired the two artists to create a unique Taranaki artwork.

Festival manager 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 Maori artist and storyteller, were a perfect fit.

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

“We are a community festival at heart. We have so much local talent in Taranaki and the festival is committed to showcasing this local talent where possible through our lighting and entertainment program.”

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

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

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

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This is the first time the event has taken place in the CBD.

Fast facts

  • Te Whatawhata  Rangi is one of 12 installations in TSB’s Festival of Lights: Winter Pop-up
  • The four-day festival coincides with Matariki (locally known as Puanga) and runs from June 23-26 from 5-10 p.m. each evening.
  • The lighting route stretches from Huatoki Square to the Puke Ariki landing stage and the coastal promenade
  • The full lighting and entertainment lineup is available at festivaloflights.nz
  • The summer festival attracts up to 125,000 people each year.

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