How can I help people tell their stories if I can't tell my own? Writer and Musician Ruby Solly talks about Identity, Family, Music Therapy and Poetry, and how Te Ao Māori is the Pathway between them all.
By Tayi Tibble
Ruby Solly is a Ngai Tahu writer and musician. She has played with artists such as The Troubles, Whirimako Black, Ariana Tikao, and is playing on the upcoming ‘Trinity Roots’ tour as a cellist. She was the first cellist to complete a degree in jazz performance at the New Zealand School of Music. Ruby also works with poetry and has been published in journals such as Landfall, Poetry NZ, Starling and Minarets. She is slowly working on her first book of poetry, which explores how culture and Māori identities are nourished and explored through relationships, particularly focusing on the relationships between fathers and children. Ruby is currently completing a thesis on using taonga puoro in music therapy within mental health; the first significant piece of literature to explore the use of indigenous instruments within music therapy. Ruby lives and works as a music therapist, teacher, writer, musician and composer in the heart of Aro Valley.
I met Ruby Solly at last years Regional Maori Writers Hui at Hongoeka Marae. We were instant friends bonding over poetry, our masters degrees and using writing in order to navigate our identities as Māori .
Ruby is an incredible poet. Her poetry is utterly deft and agile. Warm and heartbreaking. We caught up to discuss Ruby's journey with both her writing and her identity; how both inform each other, how both are inseparable.
"I’ve had an interesting relationship with writing over the past few years as in this time I’ve been completing a masters in music therapy, and as a therapist 90% of my day to day life has become confidential," Ruby says. "Initially I felt stunted by this, but then I realised that I just needed to write from what I had internally, rather than externally. As I looked back through the writing I had been doing through the last seven years or so, I noticed themes of whakapapa, family, and identity popping up again and again; with this kind of dark thread weaving through it all. It kind of felt like the writing had been figuring me out, rather than the other way around."
The mahi that we want to accomplish is not optional, we have no planet B - Kahu Kutia selling Prints to get Seven Rangatahi to Poland to Advocate for Indigenous Persepectives on Climate Change.
By Tayi Tibble
Kahu Kutia (Ngāi Tūhoe) is a 21 year old writer, artist and indigenous advocate, raised in Te Urewera, and currently residing in Wellington. Kahu created a series of three prints that practically haka, Mana Wahine and Tino Rangatiratanga.. fitting, because Kahu has been selling these prints in order to raise money to get six rangatahi to COP24 in Poland to advocate for indigenous issues in regards to climate change. We spoke to Kahu about her creative upbringing, her internet influences, and her inherent sense of duty that is driving her incredible mahi. Kahu is currently a contributing writer for Vice NZ.
An isolated upbringing and an engaged and artistic Mother encouraged Kahu to be creative from an early age. “I grew up really rural, and there was no one really to hang out with. My Mum is a Pākehā who bravely married into Tūhoe. She really encouraged me to be creative. She had me draw my entire whakapapa in crayons and watercolour. She is a dabbling writer, and also has beautiful photos that she took as a university student. These two things in particular were really formative on the interests that I myself have taken on.”
Toi Gallery’s latest exhibition Words Remain - Nga Kupu ka mau tonu gathers and promotes a selection of exciting emerging Māori writers from Te Whanganui A Tara. Five poems from five emerging poets have been printed and mounted, black ink onto clear vinyl.
The intention behind Words Remain was to showcase the diversity of Māori Writers among Māori. Each piece on display, is distinctively unique to each writer, and yet ultimately, the exhibition provides an overview of the various viewpoints and styles occurring in contemporary Māori poetry.
The exhibition will run from the 15th October to the 1st of November.
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Toi Māori Aotearoa's blog is purposed to keep you up to date with the latest happenings going on both here at Toi, and across the Māori arts scene in Aotearoa, and abroad.