He hononga tāngata e kore e motu; ka pā he taura waka e motu – Unlike a canoe rope, a human bond cannot be severed.

We hope that this finds you well and beginning to settle into our new normal. In many ways the last few extraordinary months have been excellent teachers, forcing us to re-evaluate on a constant basis. Life, if we didn’t know it before, is about change and adaptation.

And so it is with us too, as we prepare to say farewell to our Festival Director Ria Hall on Friday, July 3.

While it will be an occasion tinged with sadness, at the same time the Board is excited for Ria and whānau and wish them all the joy in the world through this special time as she prepares to welcome her second child.

Although Ria hasn’t been with us as our Festival Director for long, we have enjoyed working with her and admire and applaud her championing of Te Ao Māori in every sphere of her life. The Trust Board was looking forward to seeing her energy and passion translate into our 2021 festival.

Whatever happens next we won’t forget Ria, particularly as her tenure coincided with a period of history that stopped us all in our tracks! That she and her team responded so quickly and so well with the Arts at Home online programme was a testament to them all.

While the Board reviews options for the 2021 Festival Director role, the Festival remains in the steady hands of our long-standing team of General Manager Nikki Hansen and Literary Programmer and Publicist Sandra Simpson, with the support of former Director Jo Bond, and our planning and activities are proceeding as usual.

Go well Ria, and our blessings for you and your family.

Kathryn Lellman, Festival Chair

Although this time has been much shorter than anticipated, I am excited and delighted by the expansion of my little whānau. I offer my unreserved support to the Tauranga Arts Festival Trust and staff, and wish them all the best as they progress towards what will undoubtedly be a spectacular 2021 Festival.

Tēnā tātou katoa
Ria Hall, Festival Director