Rongo-marae-roa-a-rangi: He moemoeā shared within The Forest Rongoā Teahouse

Poneke’s Urban Dream Brokerage and Tanya Ruka proudly present the latest in its series of groundbreaking artist commissions.

At a time where we are heading inwards, to reconsider so many of life’s norms, artist Tanya Ruka encourages Wellingtonians to come together over a 2 week period from Saturday, November 27th to Saturday, Dec 11th to question, learn, discuss and korero over a cup of Rongoā tea (Rongoā is traditional Maori medicine using native plants) at The Forest Rongoā teahouse at 106 Courtney Place, Readings Cinema Complex.

The teahouse isn’t a commercial enterprise but rather a Matauranga Māori based art project designed to make us reconsider our relationship to our environment, each other and ourselves.

The Forest Rongoā teahouse is also an art installation space, its design inspired by what Ruka describes as “the pluriversal nature” of the Ngahere (forest).

“Whakawhanaungatanga is to actively build relationships, just like the forest has many interconnected relationships,” Ruka says. This is an open invitation to come together, to question, to kōrero (talk) and share our experiences of the whenua land and imagine different positive versions of the future together.”

Open from Nov 27th at 10am each morning the public are encouraged to pop along to the teahouse, with their favourite drinking vessel to share in some Rongoā tea – a small selection of fresh rongoā leaves will be sustainably sourced for the day. Ruka encourages us to consider the many questions before us, as we look to regeneration.

Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka (Ngāti Pakau, Te Uriroroi, Te Parawhau, Te Mahurehure – Ngapuhi, and Waitaha) is an artist, designer and independent researcher active in environmental issues from an indigenous perspective.

She works with the Waitaha Executive Grandmothers Council and the Common Earth Indigenous Working Group and last year founded the online Region Net Positive community platform towards seeing agriculture and environment working more reciprocally, recovering Matauranga Māori tools.

Ruka is also a video and performance artist who has exhibited nationally.

This project, Rongo-marae-roa-a-rangi: He moemoeā is the third commission in a series of seven from Urban Dream Brokerage (UDB), which is working with funding from the Wellington City Council Covid Recovery Fund to offer different uses for vacant commercial city space.

UBD encourages the innovative use of vacant and underutilised retail and public space to creatively build community and enliven our city’s streets.

The series of commissions, which run through 2021 and early in 2022, are led by artists who are interested in creating space for the public to participate, whilst often bringing new life to vacant spaces.

Rongo-marae-roa-a-rangi: He moemoeā follows on from Electromagnetic Geographies and Commonspace.

Ruka aims to consider how we communicate with the wai and awa below and ask what the wairua of the land being shared with us is. The project will also explore how we introduce biodiverse ecosystems into this place of concrete. How do we plant the seeds?

She asks “Together how do we protect and enhance the Mauri, the life force within urban environments? How do we introduce more biodiverse ecosystems into this place of concrete? How do we plant the seeds? How do we care for and communicate with the wai and awa below the city streets?”.

Over the two week period, The space will also exhibit Tanya’s stunning digital weaving series Mapping Poneke’ as well as other multimedia installations.

Acknowledging the wairua of the inner city. Tanya’s weavings will map the inner city with the mātauranga Māori concepts māramatanga (learning, enlightenment), manākitanga (respect, aroha/ love), kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

Come along from Saturday, November 27th to 106 Courtney Place, Readings Cinema Complex. Bring your favourite drinking vessel, this installation aims to remain as low impact as possible.

To contribute to the wairua (spirit) of the whenua (land) this project’s reciprocal engagement is to plant and grow more rongoā trees and plants.

All profits will go to the Future Forests Fund, growing a community rongoā forest in Brooklyn, educating to keep old growth forests in the ground.

More information can be found here.

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