Ārai Awa is an immersive video installation reflecting on the obstructed ancestral journey of tuna (eels) in the Whakatipu region. Led by Rachael Rakena and Paulette Tamati-Elliffe with a creative team including Laughton Kora, Michael Bridgman, Komene Cassidy, Tūmai Cassidy, Ross Hemera, Amber Bridgman, Iain Frengley, Arihia Latham, Donna Matahaere-Atariki and Virginia Watson.

This apakura (lament) is sung by a solo female voice taking the position of a tuna (eel) who is unable to follow the ancestral trails her tīpuna have followed for millennia. Following the structure of a mōteatea (traditional chant), she expresses her grief for the end of her line as she cannot find passage to the ocean to release her hua. With this artwork we raise awareness of her plight, and call for action to enable her passage before it is too late.

Watch the opening of this remarkable installation here.

Ārai Awa has been commissioned by Te Atamira with the support of Creative New Zealand.

Exhibition live from June 25, 2023 - Sep 22, 2023