New Zealands unique brand of creativity has grown from a fusion of diverse societies – Maori, English, Scottish, Irish, Polynesian and Asian, to name but a few. When the controlled discipline of western culture meets the emotive mysticism of the Pacific Rim region, all kinds of interesting things happen.
Galleries and museums provide a perennial glimpse of artistic endeavours. Wellington’s Te Papa is the newest and most ground-breaking of New Zealand’s museums; the World of wearable art complex in Nelson is one of the most creative, with its unique blend of wearable art exhibits and collectible motor vehicles.
In artists’ studios it’s possible to meet some of the people who make New Zealand creative. Hot spots for home-grown art include Kerikeri, Waiheke Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Nelson and Hokitika. Armed with an art trail map, you can visit painters, potters, glass artists, sculptors and textile artists. Sometimes you’re offered the chance to create your own piece of New Zealand art – maybe a bone carving or a traditional Maori flax basket.
Art isn’t always tucked away in galleries and studios. Christchurch-based sculptor Neil Dawson has won international acclaim for his atmospheric outdoor works. Dawson’s beautiful metal globes have decorated air space in Canberra, Paris and Kuala Lumpur, and his work ‘Ferns’ is currently hovering above Civic Square in Wellington.
Film and Music
New Zealand has become a popular filming destination for the global cinema industry, built on the legacy of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Indigenous film projects have also been hugely successful. Following in the footsteps of The Whale Rider is In My Father’s Den, an intricately layered, character-driven mystery that has been a favourite in international film festivals.
Another success story is the short film Two Cars, One Night from writer/director Taika Waititi, which was nominated for a 2005 Academy Award™ in the Short Film Live Action category.
Ever since the soaring tones of soprano Kiri Te Kanawa first charmed the world, New Zealand’s music artists have been finding audiences beyond their home patch. Brothers Tim and Neil Finn, originally from Split Enz, continue to produce new songs and play regular live gigs. Chinese-Maori singer Bic Runga is responsible for ‘Drive’, the biggest selling local artist album in New Zealand music history. Her songs are hauntingly beautiful.
Hayley Westenra is another New Zealand singing sensation. Although she’s only eighteen, Hayley’s classical vocal skills have been rated alongside Bryn Terfel and Andrea Boccelli. Her CD ‘Pure’ was launched globally and quickly became one of the fastest-selling Classical/Crossover debut albums ever.
When creativity is focused around an event, it becomes accessible to everyone. The World of WearableArt Awards combines textile art, fashion design, sculpture and storytelling into one magnificent live show. Another event that showcases creativity is Auckland’s Pasifika Festival, where traditional Polynesian music and dancing is juxtaposed with locally produced funk, soul and rap music. For a fascinating glimpse of New Zealand clothing design you can time your visit to coincide with New Zealand Fashion Week, which is held in Auckland every October. Public events during the week include an exhibition and a ‘Best of Fashion Week’ show. Dunedin’s Fashion Week, which is held every March in the historic railway station, is an eye-opener for anyone with a passion for innovative apparel.