One of the first things I was told when Gabrielle Vincent handed over her kaitiaki role at the Basement to me was that it is impossible to program the year at the Basement without knowing when the Maori New Year, Matariki will be, because the Matariki season is what shapes and determines the rest of the year. I asked ‘how do i find that out?’ and she said, “you don’t, it’s up to the stars.”
This detail for me encapsulates so much about our commitment to walking alongside tangata whenua and putting our trust in the things they put their trust in. We wait each year, for them to tell us when it’s time for this season, and everything else follows.
Matariki season is the centre of our year. It’s less like the middle of a line that starts and A and ends and B. It’s more like the turning point at the centre of a galaxy or the axis of a spinning planet. This is the most treasured part of the yearly program and we want to thank you our indigenous artists for being here.
I acknowledge Gabrielle and Whetu Silver for bringing together a deeply thoughtful and fiercely instinctual group of artists together. Seeing you and the images of your work together is like delivering a stone, cold sucker punch. It’s a fearless gaze into a sea of riot police, a sure fire way to make a coloniser tremble (or at the very least think twice). I feel humbled to inherit this programme and to be invited to stand alongside them in this exquisite and potent oceanic live granade of artists.
We at the Basement wait for you all year and are so happy to finally give over the building to you. This space is yours to breathe in as you need to, this time is yours to pull and stretch like threads through stars as little or as much as you please.
I wish for you to give and receive everything you yearn for with your seasons, for this to be a celebration, a chance for us to be together and for this to go some way toward healing historical hurts that continue to play out in many different ways.
Matariki ki tua o nga whetu. While you are here we promise to be here also, to look after you and care for you as you are pulled by the stars towards and even beyond the very idea of excellence. You truly are the centre of a turning world.