Kia mau is a call to hold fast. Kia Mau is about us all. Here. Now.

Fierce theatre, a hip-hop musical set in the city streets of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, customary Indigenous dance made contemporary, and wāhine Māori telling it like it is – these are amongst the offerings of Kia Mau Festival 2023.

Now in our seventh iteration, Kia Mau brings winter warmth to the Wellington region and has fast become one of the world’s most highly regarded contemporary Indigenous arts festivals. This year, we continue our focus on uplifting mana whenua artists, tangata whenua and tangata moana, and global Indigenous artists from Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), Ōtepoti (Dunedin), the Te Moana-nui-a-Kiva (Pacific) and Canada to Te Ūpoko O Te Ika A Maui (Wellington) region from 02 to 17 June 2023.  

Its founders, leading Aotearoa creatives Hone Kouka and Mīria George, have today announced the first events on the 2023 programme – a programme filled with powerful theatre, dance, music, wānanga and hui, and visual arts.

I want Te Ūpoko O Te Ika A Māui to become the global centre for contemporary Indigenous arts.

Multi-awarded winning senior artist, 2022 Te Tumu Toi Arts Laureate, Hone Kouka MNZM and theatre and filmmaker Mīria George have begun to share the 2023 programme – a programme filled with powerful theatre, dance, music, wānanga and hui, and visual arts.

Originally known as Ahi Kā, an annual celebration of Māori, Pasifika and Indigenous performing arts, Kia Mau was first held in 2017.  Hone and Mīrīa decided to make it a biennial celebration because its exponential growth meant it was too big for them to programme every year.

“And we wanted to keep doing what we do, being artists,” they say.

But Kia Mau has remained true to its roots, identifying artists at key turning points in their careers, or with specific projects, and supporting them to take strategic and pivotal steps forward. For this reason, Kia Mau Festival has made a significant impact on the many artists who have worked with the festival and, in turn, Aotearoa New Zealand’s contemporary creative landscape.

Through Kia Mau, artists gain access to a festival that serves and nurtures them throughout the creative process, thereby building capabilities and in turn strengthening and diversifying the Aotearoa arts sector by uplifting Māori, Pasifika and Indigenous artists.

Centring events on Pōneke and growing regionally also remain pivotal. 

“I wanted to make it Wellington-heart because I love that city and it’s been really good to me so it was my way of giving back to the city where I have had such great creative experiences,” says Kouka.

This coming together of kōrero and whanaungatanga means Kia Mau is increasingly recognised globally as a whare in which Māori, Pasifika and international Indigenous artists, and their communities, are looked after as they create, develop and stage extraordinary music, performance and art. 

Because of this finely tuned understanding of the arts sector and strong relationships with both emerging and established artists, it means Kia Mau Festival is taking its place alongside some of the world’s best-known Indigenous cultural events.

Nau mai, tūtaki mai ki te hui ahurei a Kia Mau.