Opinion: Te Tīmatanga: Whakapapa as citational practice and brave acts of doing

Te Tīmatanga is Auckland Pride’s Takatāpui offering within the Festival.
Photo credit: supplied/Auckland Pride

OPINION: As Auckland Pride's dedicated Takatāpui Arts Festival, Te Tīmatanga was described by Nigel Borrel (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Whakatōhea) as an ambitious project that has "pulled together a staggering amount of mahingā toi, and lifted up mana takatāpui in powerful ways".

Complete with its wharetoi (fine art gallery) hosting wānanga (workshops) every weekend on Rangipuke (Albert Park), a huarahi toi (public art trail) in Britomart, a six episode whakaata takatāpui (performing arts video series) recorded on Te Mata Topaki with Viaduct Harbour, a podcast in partnership with the Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, and a four month artist residency offered by Creative New Zealand: in its second year, Te Tīmatanga has cemented itself as a staple within the ever anticipated programming of Auckland Pride.

Designed, directed and delivered by Auckland Pride's Kaiwhakahaere Takatāpui, myself Hāmiora Bailey (Ngāti Huarere, Ngāti Porou ki Harataunga) with production support by Festival Coordinator, Alex Marris, Te Tīmatanga is a mighty feat for a team of two. 

However, in its embracing of whakapapa as much more than our genealogical past, and embodying Whanaungatanga in brave acts of doing, this festival continues to grow from strength to strength. Demonstrating how Kaupapa Māori offerings create healthy, holistic outcomes for artists and organisations alike. 

With over half a million views last year, a seven minute viewer retention rate on content and developing its first Artist in Resident to be accepted into the Royal Academy of Performing Arts in London, Te Tīmatanga has the potential to reshape the Festival framework in perpetuity.

Poipoia Te Kākano, Kia Puawai

Te Tīmatanga, in its current format, was born last year out of the necessity to create accessible entry points for our Whānau Whānui Māori within the Pride landscape that could withstand COVID-19 and the climate crisis. 

Originally, Auckland Pride had advertised the Kaiwhakahaere Takatāpui role as one that would deliver a one day pop-up event within the Auckland Pride Festival Major Events Programme. However, due to issues of public health inadequacies for Takatāpui brought to the surface during the pandemic, our populous of Tāne Māori who belong to MSM communities that do not subscribe to western identifiers and therefore distance themselves from Pride as global cultural phenomena, and the need to consider the roll of connecting with whānau when speaking to Rangatahi Takatāpui - a diverse offering packaged through Public Art, a digital-hybrid delivery of performing art, kōrero within a whare ngākau that could bring everyone together to create a shared voice & affective wānanga, was the only effective way of envisioning and enacting kaupapa Māori ways of being.

Faced with the task of needing to expand the role, both in terms of funding and in Auckland Pride Festival's capacity to hold an offering like this, we knew that the curatorial foundation and the behaviour of Te Tīmatanga needed to be grounded in mātauranga. 

Luckily, pioneering wāhine mā had already theorised a Māori citational blueprint that would become the curatorial foundation for Te Tīmatanga.

Whakapapa: the foundations of our knowledge 

In Calling Forth our Pasts, Citing our Futures (2021) Hana Burgess, Donna Cormack and Papaarangi Reid denote whakapapa as the foundation of Māori ways of being, knowing, and doing. Sharing in the breath of Whaea Ani Mikaere, our wāhine mā look to whakapapa as being much more than our genealogical past and in-fact the ontological reality that suffices everything we experience, keeping us "perpetually rooted in creation".

These rangatira speak of whakapapa as a place where "generations layer upon each other, creating a reality of intergenerational relationships".

This place is what Auckland Pride calls into the City Centre and how it set out to establish, measure and maintain Te Tīmatanga.

Whanaungatanga: Brave acts of doing

As Tangata Whenua our ira-tangata (being) is all-embracing. We exist intergenerationally to one another through our toto (blood) through our iwi and hapū we maintain our relation to Te Taiao (the natural environment).

Our tuakiri (what lies beneath the skin, unique aspects of our own identity) is therefore an investiture of Whakapapa. By embracing our tuakiri and positioning it as a useful resource to upkeep whakapapa and maintain whanaungatanga, we have the ability to shape how kōrero tuku iho, the lessons of our past, reverberate through us and into the future.

Affirming this in Calling Forth our Past, Citing Our Futures Hana Burgess (Ngāpuhi, Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) notes that in doing so, we can shape the future. She says: "Through whakapapa, we have a responsibility to shape the future well, to nurture and enhance these intergenerational relationships."

Referencing the late Moana Jackson, she shares his teachings on time: "Our notion of time is whakapapa based, and like whakapapa it has its own sense of never ending beginnings in which time turns back on itself in order to bring the past into the present and then into the future. Above all, it is a notion of time which recognises the interconnectedness of all things."

From this understanding of iteration, whakapapa & time - we derived the name of Te Tīmatanga from the Oriori Ko Te Pū. Acknowledging that even Tāne Te Waonui and Ngā Atua go through processes of transition, of development, of emerging and coming out.

Te Tīmatanga sees itself in line with a universe of whakapapa, of an iterative process of growth. This meant we had grounded this Tauira lead festival as a wānanga of perpetual learning. It is in this foundation of interconnectedness that Te Tīmatanga exists in all of its capacity where:

  • A Wharetoi in Albert Park stands to honour the original Gay Liberation Protests lead by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku 50 years ago
  • Holding Wānanga centered around locality, whenua. Honouring our Pakeke who frequented the Bogwater cruising sites of the 1970s and '80s during contexts of Homosexuality Crime within the Sexual Offences Act 1967
  • A Huarahi Toi offers accessible entry points for the honouring of Kuini Ahurei near Queens Wharf and the Docks as historic sites of the Hero Parties & cruising
  • A Whakaata Takatāpui is released to honour our primordial relationship to Te Taiao. In gratitude of Ahi Kaa and their manaaki of us in our relationship and access to Te Waitematā, Te Waiariki, Te Wai O Horotiu, Te Rerenga Ora Iti and Tikapa Moana
  • A podcast is released to ensure the exchange of Kōrero Tuku Iho and mana-hononga-tangata (our living relationship to one another)
  • A residency is created to allow for the active shaping of the future & support of emerging practitioners to become career artists. 

In their blueprint of Māori Citational Practice, Burgess, Cormack & Reid (2021) share that: "Like whakapapa, mātauranga Maori is not linear, it is relational and reiterative. Knowledge emerges through intimate and dynamic relationships with the world around us, transcending physical time and space. Here, knowledge has a greater sense of collectivity. When we share knowledge through any medium, we do so as a part of a whakapapa."

The body work

In this context we considered how Te Tīmatanga could create rauemi (resources) on diverse tuakiri, so as to affirm in whakapapa as a time-travel device. We decided that each year the theme for Te Tīmatanga would be based on the seminal work of one Takatāpui Rangatira who has contributed meaningfully to common-thought and cultural vitality.

A person and a work that deserved to be called into our citational practice and firmly rooted within our envisioning of the future.

In 2022, Te Tīmatanga responded to Dr Elizabeth Kerekere's He Whāriki Takatāpui by laying a Huarahi Toi from the Wharetoi at Rangipuke, down to Te Rerenga Ora Iti, through Britomart, Commercial Bay, into Viaduct Harbour and across to Wynyard Quarter.

This year we responded to Tangaroa Ā Kiokio by Te Kahureremoa Taumata, with performance works by Kiriana Sheree, Tangaroa Paul, Kahu Kutia and Te Kahureremoa herself in partnership with Viaduct Harbour, Cuetone Media and Supernormal Productions. 

"Through whakapapa, we are in relation with past and future generations at all times. We are, at once, tūpuna and mokopuna. Our bodies, places of intergenerational dialogue. This too is true for our bodies of work. As Kaupapa Māori researchers and teachers, we are in relation with those that have shaped our knowledge, those that we do our work for, and those who will engage with our work in the future. With this worldview, citation can be conceptualised as a way of acknowledging and nurturing these relationships - an expression of whanaungatanga."


We hope that as Te Tīmatanga continues our whānau whānui is excited to imagine who might we respond to, and how our Creative New Zealand Resident might set the tone, how the Wharetoi will transition each year, and what the Huarahi Toi might take up public space.

We hope that our Whakaata Takatāpui can be a place that young rangatahi return to when exploring their tuakiri and that young performers map it as part of their own career goals, and that non-performers are hoping each year to guess which performances might be immortalised through it as a series. 

Ultimately Te Tīmatanga sets out to create a traceable, iterative living record of Takatāpui Whakapapa actioned each year through whakawhanaungatanga, bringing together our elders, our artists, our community activating our spaces of resistance, defiance and legacy. 

Hāmiora Bailey is the Kaiwhakahaere at Auckland Pride and the co-founder/operator of collaborative design practice Kōpū O Te Rangi, with his own artistic practice in photography and spatial design.