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TE WHEKE - interview for Te Ao by Matiu Hamuera

“We are really proud to still be creating work as a Māori contemporary dance company, and over the two decades it has been an incredible time of bringing together many different artists to collaborate and create new work” says Jack.

“Twenty-one years ago, when Atamira Dance Collective was founded there was no Māori TV or radio,” says Gray. “As young urban Māori, we wanted to see ourselves. Dance has always been the platform by which we can transpose timeframes and look at things from our tīpuna. Young Māori in 2021 feel empowered and global. So, with this work, we embody the symbolic bones of the past as we gesture towards future potential.”

Some of Aotearoa’s leading names in dance are involved in this milestone production, including Sean MacDonald, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Jack Gray, Dolina Wehipeihana, Gabrielle Thomas, Kura Te Ua, Bianca Hyslop and Louise Potiki Bryant, who foster the performances of some exceptional experienced and emerging talents. Te Whānau Atamira has come out in force to mark this momentous occasion and to honour the legacy of this company’s contribution to Māori contemporary dance.

Jack says “It’s really important that the young ones are there, and they also give us a spark of life as well and come up with really fancy new ideas that we wouldn’t have thought of back in our day as well.”

“I think that whenever you come to an Atamira performance, you’re engaging in a type of wānanga where you’re not just in the here and now, you’re also able to see glimmers of the past and then also kind of consider your own future.”


Watch Exceutive Director Marama Lloydd and dancer Eddie Elliott kōrero with Matiu in an interview before the last dress rehearsal of TE WHEKE before it premiered to audiences in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Watch Artistic Director Jack Gray kōrero on Te Ao about Atamira in it's 21st year and the journey the company has been on so far.