Ariana Tikao and George Tikao

Recently I have been busy behind-the-scenes curating an exhibition and doing some recording for other peoples films and shows.

Tonight I will be having a chat on Radio NZ on the Nights programme with Bryan Crump, at 7.10pm, talking about the exhibition I curated called Borderland: The world of James Cowan. It is in association with my day job at the Alexander Turnbull Library, where I am lucky to arrange and describe Māori archival collections. Sometimes, as a part of this work, I come across real gems, including, last year when I was working on a new lot of James Cowan’s (the writer) working papers, when I found some waiata which relate to my own whānau, as well as some of his interview notes with my great-grandfather, Hone [Teone] Taare Tikao, who was a tribal scholar of our iwi of Kāi Tahu.

Previously all I had known about Cowan was to do with his interviews with my great-grandfather and the little book that he published as a result Maori Folk-tales of the Port Hills. My dad told me about a waiata he had seen in this book about titi (muttonbirds) and patupaiarehe (fairy folk), so I when I looked it up, I was inspired to write a new tune for this waiata, initially for my friend Argene to make up an Irish dance to for our group Emeralds and Greenstone, which you can see a live performance of here.

I also recorded a more ambient version of Titi Whakatai Arorua on my most recent solo album From Dust to Light accompanied by the lovely Ben Wood.

The exhibition Borderland is on at the Turnbull Gallery in Wellington until 26 April and has some associated events including me performing some of the waiata from the Cowan papers, and my colleague Michael Brown performing sea shanties, yay! More here about the exhibition and events.

Apart from curating the exhibition I have also been supporting some other creative projects, including playing taonga puoro for the film Utu Pihikete and for the play Pasefika, still on at the Circa Theatre. I also had the privelege to record a new piece of music with Dr Richard Nunns for the Arts Festival show Power Plant.

I am enjoying my time behind the scenes, and will let you know more soon about upcoming projects!