Sunday, July 05, 2009


This year was the second Atamira - the first was two years ago, the next will be 2011 to coincide with the Rugby World Cup. It is a "cultural presentation" of urban Maori and is funded by Auckland City and Manukau City. Confused yet?

Admission is free - how "collective" is that!! But then, I refuse, point blank, to pay to attend similar "shows" where 90% of the content is commercial and advertorial.

Anyhoos, it was most enjoyable. There was plenty of people, but not the crammed-in-shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of the Easter Show of past years (the commercial and advertorial referred to, and which cost $25 per head last time we went 30 years back).

I enjoy faces - and I hate formal and posed photography. So, what is set out below are all hand-held, natural light, shutterspeed as slow as 1/4s.

This lady is stripping flax to remove the "plant" from the fibres. Traditionally a pipi (like a cockle) shell is used. The strips she is working on will end up as "lilys" like those in the foreground.

It is a long time since last saw this being done. The panel is tukutuku, thin wood laths bound over raupo (you can see that in the gaps as light fawn vertical bits). The panels were used as lining in important houses and there are many traditional patterns used as decoration. This panel was about 4m long and 1.5m high - large! The binding is done in pairs, one each side of the panel, and when there are three or four "teams" singing as they work it is great to sit and watch (if you are allowed).

Also performing (two 20 minute stints) was Whirimako Black.

The "theatre" is no more than 8m across, and about 3m from stage front to back. Truly, "intimate" theatre!

It was good to hear her sing, in person, and with no "backing" other than Kevin Kereama doing the percussion and bone flute bits reasonably well.

Oh, one last thing. The woman pictured above, peeking out from behind the white and blue needs explanation. The white and blue is the back and head (hoodie and balaclava) of her son(?) who is a quadraplegic and is a mouth-painter. I thought her face was quite dramatic and wore the cares of looking after her (30ish) son.

A good "boil-up" for lunch, $10 per head. Mutton, kumera, potato, watercress boiled (hence the name) for quite some time. The hangi was $15, but I haven't had a decent boil-up since I was a kid so there was no contest. We were there for a good 5 hours.

Time well spent on a wet and cold winter Saturday.

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