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ATAMIRA : 2021
A year in review

We're excited to celebrate 21 years of Atamira with the premiere of our digital showcase

ATAMIRA : 2021

Youtube Premiere: Wednesday 22 December , 7pm (NZT)

Join us to see directors Jack Gray and Marama Lloydd and our dance artists and collaborators in a series of video snapshots, interviews and presentations encapsulating the work we have done in 2021.

Highlighted are excerpts from RĀRANGI WA, a historical timeline of Māori contemporary dance repertoire, thoughts from TE WHEKE, our legacy work celebrating 21 years of the company’s collaborative creativity, new insights from HOU by future choreographers and the post lockdown presentation of NGĀ WAI (ITI) by Sean MacDonald.


Watch ATAMIRA : 2021 here:

Curated by Jack Gray and edited by Matt Gillanders, Archipela





February 2021 kicked in with Tuhono Wānanga – a gathering back in Opanuku Studio, home base at Corban Estate Arts Centre. Rārangi Wā was the name of an Artistic Director curated showcase of historic Atamira repertoire works ranging from as far back as 2004. Drawing in company dancers from 2019 and recent graduates from Unitec and the University of Auckland, the purpose of this project was to identify key forms and styles from Atamira’s choreographic signatures and to expose a new generation of dancers to this in preparation for a work later in the year. Over two weeks, the dancers connected in the studio, learnt to work and build new combinations together and focussed on the achieving of the repertoire works. Assisting the process were some of the original choreographers who reworked aspects of the dances to fit the new bodies and the context of the art gallery performance. In Week three, a snap Auckland lockdown compromised the planned residency at Auckland Art Gallery, which did not eventually go ahead after a postponement and then a cancellation at a second lockdown. Though disappointing, the company took the opportunity to explore the online platform and to keep working on the pieces. It was this practice that laid the foundations for our next major work. At the end of February was a studio remount of Ngā Wai to explore some ideas in preparation for a future tour to Waimārama.

Rārangi Wā trailer


March began with the directors pitching the yet unmade work Te Wheke at the PANNZ arts market. Later that month a gig performing at an arts event in Waiheke Island gave the younger dancers some opportunity to perform in an Atamira context.

April focussed on Ngā Wai returning home to the ancestral lands of choreographer Sean MacDonald. This performance happened in a tiny community in the Hawkes Bay and provided some challenges with presenting a theatre show in a community hall. The company was well received by the local school and elders, with their show attended by fans who travelled from afar to see dance in the region. We achknowledge the passing of Rob MacDonald, Sean's Uncle and local icon, soon after we visited Waimarama and were so graciously recieved and looked after by him. We send all our aroha to Sean's whanau.

At the end of the month after a brief respite, the marketing campaign for the new show Te Wheke went live. And the company finally arrived at a journey that had been years in the making. The first two weeks of the process was about the creation of a series of eight distinct solos relating to the multi-facets of the human experience as illustrated in Dr Rangimārie Te Turuki Arikirangi Rose Pere’s book Te Wheke. May was the full-time devising and creation of the work with assistant directors Kelly Nash and Taane Mete, a rich and intensive process that brought the usual creative challenges and catalysts.

Ngā Wai trailer

"Through the legacy work Te Wheke we brought 21 years of Atamira Dance whakapapa to the stage in Tamaki Makaura, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Ōtautahi and Whangārei after a 3 year journey of exploration. That was an intense but fulfilling experience, enhanced for me by being part of the creative team as costumier, and we are fully aware how fortunate we were to achieve this before we all had to retreat home."

Marama Lloydd, Excutive Director

Led by Chair Dolina Wehipeihana, Atamira Trust Board have kept the waka strong and steering the company ahead into its future, constantly developing and improving governance and staff support systems. We thank all our amazing board members, Puawai Cairns, Moana Nepia, Paul Mclaney for their incredible feedback and insights.

And we take the time now to congratulate Wendy Preston MNZM, one of our founding board members who has served in all capacities over the years and contributed to the mentoring and stability of the staff members and directors, past and present. Wendy is stepping down from the Board to pursue and enjoy other life opportunities, personally as a grandmother and professionally as Director of Mixit, and we shall always be grateful for all the years she has given to serving Atamira and the wider arts community.


The final touches to Te Wheke and the company were ready to premiere at a glittering event at ASB Theatre. The energy, excitement and pride was evident as the company showcased it’s collective talents and celebrated 21 years of making innovative and brilliant Māori contemporary dance. Without a rest, the company travelled down to Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui, to Wellington’s Kia Mau Festival. A pinnacle performance event for Indigenous artists. Housed at Te Whaea, the NZ dance and drama school, the company hosted workshops and classes with the students, shared online and live screenings of documentaries, and enjoyed a successful season with Q and A talks and a cutting of a 21st cake! Soon after, the company continued onto Ōtautahi, where they performed at the St James Theatre to an appreciative local audience. Many friends had travelled and reconnected for the first time since the pandemic, and our last engagement touring Onepū in 2019.

July was a month to recalibrate, for the directors to take some leave and to rest after such a massive season. In August the company returned to Opanuku studio for a remount week for our Whangārei season of Te Wheke which we performed at Forum North, one of our major sponsors. The tour included workshops at local schools, and a well-attended schools show and evening show, reconnecting with friends, fans and whānau from the area. We look back with gratitude to have done that much given that four days after the show we went into Level 4 Lockdown. We walked out of the office imagining we’d be back in a few days – little knowing what was in store for all of us around the corner.

Te Wheke trailer

“Te Wheke is sublimely fluid and unwaveringly beautiful.” Megan Seawright, Theatreview 2021

“…A well balanced show that captures the essence of Atamira as a company and their 21-year history…an awesome experience that people need to see” Anton Carter, Theatreview 2021


September flew by in lockdown, and as it turned out we had to cancel our plans for HOU – which was meant to have been made in the inner city outdoors environment. In October, still in lockdown, the decision was made by Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival to cancel out of town shows, including Te Wheke. After this happened, we decided to explore a week of online research together as a company attending online class and doing different projects – where we had four dancers working as Team HOU and three dancers working as Team TUHONO. When it seemed that everyone enjoyed the reciprocity and energy of working online, we decided to try out online work one week at a time. Continuing to extend as long as everyone was keen to work and it was doable under alert level guidelines.

November brought different level rule changes, and the dancers started exploring smaller bubbles in twos and threes before it eventually became ok for more of the group to meet outdoors.

December then became a focus for two final projects, an in-person showing of NGĀ WAI ITI – an adaptation of Ngā Wai for outdoors and three dancers – which was performed back at Corban Estate Arts Centre outside the church on the lawn. Team HOU exhibited a curated selection of works on Atamira’s social platforms, including dance films, writings, photography and behind the scenes reflections. Over the lockdown, Abbie Rogers extended the online dance class capacity offering several classes, and Team Tuhono pivoted their Dancing with Mythology workshops into an online project with local schools. A rebranding by Vodafone Events Centre saw us change the name to Kori Pūrakau. The directors strategised a series of think tanks with the broad spectrum of Atamira whānau to develop an exciting schedule of activity for 2022.

Watch this space as we come back stronger than ever!


The Te Wheke campaign was awarded two Distinctions and a Merit at the AGDA awards.

Distinction in Print / Posters

Distinction in Publications

Merit in Photography for Design

  • Agency: Osborne Shiwan
  • Client: Atamira Dance Company
  • Photography: Toaki Okano and Petra Leary
  • Writing: Stevens and Kiri Key Andrea
  • Art Direction (Publication): Shabnam Shiwan & Jinki Cambronero
  • Makeup: Rae Sacha
  • Hair: Ryder Salon, Henare Davidson, Shelden Hadland


Abbie Rogers, Sean MacDonald, Brydie Colquhoun


  • Emma Cosgrave (Ngāiti Pukenga, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whātua)
  • Oli Mathiesen (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi)
  • Dana Moore-Mudgway (Te Atiawa, Rangitane, Ngāti Apa, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga)
  • Caleb Heke (Ngāpuhi)

Check out the HOU 2021 exhibition on our INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Meri Kirihimete and Happy New Year!

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