Kia Ora Aotearoa!

Ánna-Katri Helander

Last wednesday i arrived early in the morning at Auckland international airport. As this year´s Riddu Sessions artist I´ve chosen  to look closer at the currents similarities and differences between Maori people on Aotearoa and my own Sámi community in Sápmi. So that´s why I´m currently travelling Aotearoa with a camera to document today’s Maori culture based on the urban youth culture through dance and music. Yeah!

The result will be Sápmis first multi-media hip hop dance performance with politically loaded content shown during this year’s Riddu Riđđu festival. The performance will communicate a pride of belonging to an indigenous culture, while also showing a critical eye to our cultural sturctures and the way colonialism impacts us today.  My aims is to introduce the Sámi audience to hip-hop dance made from a Sámi perspective.

I stayed in Auckland for three nights getting to know the camera better and to become better friends with the infamous jetlag. Auckland was a dream with its dope skateparks and a massive jungle of streetart, what a way to start off this trip!

On saturday i headed off to Rotorua where my session would be to take part in Chanz Mikaeres launch of her Te Arawa Superheroes exhibition and also to exchange knowledge of the current challenges in the Maori community. Chanz Mikaeres is an Te Arawa artist, activist, poet and graduate in Maori visual art from Massey University. For me as a young indigenous artist Chanz is without a doubt #goals, pure girlpower native style!

In Rotorua I also had the pleasure of meeting up with some of the members in the hiphop haka fusion crew Toka Tu, a seriously awesome bunch of dancers! They invited me over to their home in Rotorua and I didn’t doubt for a second that I had met up with the right people. Here is a video of Toka Tū:

At first I spent time talking with Ngapera, the manager and also mother to a few of the crew members. We hit it off straight away and we shared the storys of our different yet such similar backrounds. During our second cup of coffee Rerehau and Aniwa arrived and the nerdy hiphop talk of the younger generation went off. I’m really buzzing over the fact that we all share our passion for hiphop as a dance artform, as well as the gratitude of our indigenous heritage. I heard quickly that Te Reo is the main language in this family, and I guess that for us as indigenous youth having a minority language as our mothertounge in a modern society set the foundation to connect and vibe with eachother so easily.

Today I arrived in Whakatane where I will spend the rest of my stay. Here I will be having a session learning the poi, an important part of the Kapa Haka performing art in the Maori culture. Towards the end of the week I will also be doing a workshop myself at an bellydancing studio. I’m so excited for that because it’s been seven years since I was a student there myself!


Me te aroha mai // With love from

Ánna-Katri Helander


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