Meet at Hamilton Gardens Info Centre, Hamilton

24/02/2021 - 26/02/2021

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2021

Production Details

Movement of the Human

The Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival proudly premieres the very first New Zealand performance of Hurihuri after being commissioned for the Commonwealth games in 2018. Hurihuri is constructed around the wheel and the idea of unity, fusing hip hop and contemporary movement with traditional kapa haka, live music, and aerial performance.

Wheelie masters perform against a live soundscape of drums, electronic music and taonga pūoro. Hurihuri fizzes with energy, magic and heart. The whirling, revolution of motion and sound builds through the power of the haka to a breath-taking finale, a high energy spectacular.

Hurihuri draws local kaihaka for this particular production from the kapa haka group ‘Te Pou o Mangataawhiri’, and is also working with exciting new artists Phodiso Dintwe who has created a new piece of music and lyrics especially for this production.This version of Hurihuri also welcomes the incredible 13-year-old Harper Heta to the stage.

Presented by Movement of the Human.

We are drawing kaihaka for this particular production from the kapa haka group “Te Pou o Mangataawhiri”.  And working with new artists Phodiso  Dintwe (hip hop artist who has created a new piece of music and lyrics for this production ) Taniora Moutere replaces Matt Moore and we welcome young 13 year old Harper Heta who is also a paraplegic performer.

Te Reo Māori , Site-specific/site-sympathetic , Integrated dance/mixed ability dance , Hiphop , Cultural activation , Contemporary dance , Dance ,

60 mins

Skill, energy, strength and bravery

Review by Dr Debbie Bright 25th Feb 2021

From the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival website we learn that Hurihuri was originally commissioned by Festival 2018 (GC2018), the arts and cultural programme of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.  

Now, Director Malia Johnston has brought this spectacular production back to New Zealand and we are privileged to see it re-staged for the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival. 

For me, the performance has a feel of Johnston meets Gold Coast athleticism meets Auckland meets the mighty Waikato. From the outset, the strength and passion of all performers is evident. From the first call of taonga puoro to the final waiata we are transfixed by skill, energy, strength and bravery.  

Audience members gather: a wide mix of age groups, ethnicities and (dis)abilities. A lot of children – lovely to see and, of course, a 6pm performance that is not very long makes this so accessible for the younger ones and for those who are unfamiliar with theatre. At the end, I sense that the children, along with their parents, leave this event impressed and excited. Many Hamiltonians now look forward to this annual cultural feast in the Hamilton Gardens, particularly since, on pleasant evenings like tonight, they can bring their picnic tea or drink, and dress in light summer casuals. Seating is provided in rows of plastic chairs and 2 portable riser sets. On the open stage we see sound gear, instruments, more staging items and rigging. The upstage area is a subdued blue, the sizeable apron stretches out towards the audience. I am hoping that most of the action is on this apron stage, since my view of the upstage area is interrupted in places by the rigging towers. Wheels are suspended from the rigging, swinging and spinning in the evening breeze. I hear people talking about what they have seen already at the Gardens Arts Festival and what they still plan to go to. There is a sense of excitement and intrigue. 

With the call of taonga puoro, and the commanding arrival of women and men of the, precisely costumed, kapa haka group the show begins. We see waiata a ringa, poi, haka, wero and karanga, incredibly precise and focused. Tino reka! Tino kaha! Then, a single contemporary figure arrives and threads through the stationary rōpu members with long limbed strong/lyrical contemporary dance, then another, and another, and a wheelie master – a wheelchaired figure of authority and commanding strength – long arms, power, versatility and grit. A change begins: contemporary is now meeting traditional, each exploring, intrigued, yet comfortable, at home, with one another. I am interested to see how this particular blending and contrasting will develop: kapa haka, the continuous long-limbed whirling, spinning and reaching of contemporary dancers (3 men and a woman), the troupe of wheelie masters, and, balanced above and behind, in traditional garb, women with poi, men with taiaha, driving beats and haunting melodies, and the rapper who reminds us that groundedness and flying high are both essential elements the whole.  

I would like to begin to approach honouring this work as it deserves. Yet, I am bombarded by images, sounds and impressions; no clever analyses, knowledgeable comparisons and contrasts. Clever words and full sentences cannot do justice to so much life, energy, passion, and moments of bravery, unity, contrast and surprise. I resort to a series of interwoven images.

Kapa haka, traditional and contemporary interweaving and inter-shadowing; motion, music, wero, karanga, whirling, circling, swaying, swirling, swinging arms, hands, legs, bodies, poi, taiaha, wheels, purerehua, waiata, haka; figures circling alone and around each other, circles on the floor, in the air, alone or with impetus from another; rap, hip hop and haka; interwoven, voices, instruments, aggression and harmony; strength, balance and risk. Above this world, flying, floating, diving, on pedestals, rigging, wheelie and non-wheelie, circling alone and together, counterbalancing, lifting, pausing, holding, diverse languages, hurihuri. 

This is not a soothing demonstration to be savoured, but an explosion of life, energy and passion. The ‘breath-taking finale, a high energy spectacular’ is certainly that. Wheelie and non-wheelie, fluid attentiveness and grace of a rigging master, counterbalancing and engineering the rising and lowering of dancing figures through his own body weight and skill. The result: shapes and lifts, brave circling, parting and meeting, clinging and balancing, reaching and contracting, high in the air. Spectacular!

Some elements remind me of European circus, universal themes, dance styles and diverse groupings of people. Yet the unusual juxtapositions and blending of language, movement, music and culture are innovative, challenging and refreshing. And the kapa haka is unequivocally Waikato! Kia ora te whānau! It is always good to hear the waiata and haka of Waikato delivered with edgy passion, power and commitment. 

The programme has suggested a fusing of numerous different elements of traditional, indigenous and contemporary culture; I sense no jarring incompatibilities, just a sense of exploration, pleasure and wow. The promised fizzing, magic and heart are delivered. 

Kia ora Malia. Kia ora te whanau.

Tihei Mauri ora!


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