Aronui Programme

Launch and Exhibition








Free entry

Penny Haka Gallery, Whakarewarewa

The Aronui Arts Festival team launches the 2020 programme and celebrates the opening of the new indigenous group show curated by Dianna Doughty.

The exhibition features works from

Taumata Soloman - Multimedia Artist

Meleta Bennett - Weaver

Regan Blazer - Artist

Trevor Nathan - Sculptor

Joe Kemp - Sculptor

See below for each of the artist's profiles..

Te Arawa
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Taumata Soloman

Multimedia artist

Taumata Soloman is a multi-medium artist from Ruataahuna of Tuhoe descent who specializes in portrait art. He has worked with many individual, companies and on many kaupapa to bring to life their ideas. Utilizing his skills in airbrushing, spray painting, brushing and graphite he enjoys capturing the wairua of the subjects at hand. Taumata has a passion for creativity and is not bound by one style. His ability to explore the many styles of art that he loves gives his mahi a unique flavor. Taumata currently resides in Rotorua and in between pieces he teaches art at Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere in Putaruru giving him the opportunity to whangai the next generations creative kete. 

Taumata enjoys being a freelance artist and helping people and companies alike with their visual dreams making them a reality.

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Meleta Bennett


Tribal affiliations – Ngapuhi / Ngati Ranginui

Meleta began her weaving journey in 1993. Currently she has taken on the position of Tumu Te Rito for the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Previously she had been teaching Māori weaving at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Rotorua for the past 10 years. This has enabled Meleta to share her knowledge of this art form and continue to pass on the cultural skills and practices of the elders, in turn, creating a link for future generations of new weavers.  

Although her work is contemporary, she continues to utilise a range of customary techniques and enjoys working with different natural mediums. 

Meleta has participated in exhibitions nationally and internationally and has been fortunate to work alongside many great weavers who have shared their knowledge and skills willingly over the years.

Most recently she has been engaging with and nurturing her relationships with the wider indigenous weaving community, through cross cultural indigenous gatherings both here in Aotearoa and the U.S.A.


Regan Balzer


Regan Balzer is a practicing Māori artist, living in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Regan has developed her individual style from a combination of cultural iconography painted with a combination of layers and styles. Regan has exhibited extensively around Aotearoa (NZ) and overseas. In 2011, Regan completed a Masters in Māori Visual Arts at the prestigious Te Pūtahi-ā-Toi, Massey University, Palmerston North, graduating with Honours. 

From an early age, Regan has been exposed to images of the sulphuric landscape of her hometown - Rotorua, NZ. In this thermal wonderland, steam, and the vivid contrasting colours caused by natural minerals, water and earth, form the palette of colours, within which Regan likes to develop her paintings. The hues of her homeland intertwine throughout her work, while customary imagery from her homeland juxtaposes contemporary contexts.

Regan's process of applying both detailed and expressive layers of paint creates an avenue for elements in the works to be hidden or aspects to boldly stand out. The feast of shades produce a playful display of painted illusion where parts protrude and recede in a visual symphony of colour and form.

With particular interest in the forms derived rom customary Māori art practices, such as Māori wood carving and weaving, Regan incorporates these elements of her heritage into her work to develop visual narratives, which are often in response to past or current issues that affect her and her people at a local level, parallels of which can also be seen to be happening throughout the world.

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Joe Kemp


My name is Joe Kemp, married to Sherie and we have three sons. We live in Lake Rotoma in the Bay of Plenty. My tribal connections are Ngai Tahu, Ngapuhi and Te Arawa (Ngati Makino).

I am self-taught and find it’s a great privilege to be able to create with these mediums and art forms. I enjoy carving human form, especially the female form. I feel doing human form connects me with my ancestral history which brings a whole new meaning and purpose to the finished art work. I use wood as my main medium and enjoy the secrets and surprises that our native timbers bring with them. I sense a connection with Tane Mahuta (the life force of the tree) as I’m working with the wood, so it is quite a special feeling. I also carve a variety of stone where again there is a connection with Papatuanuku (Earth Mother).

I look to bring out the Wairua (essence) in each piece, starting from where the material originated and using any special features and grains in the stone and wood.

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Trevor Nathan


I have been sculpting full time since 2003, working primarily with a variety of hard and soft stone and wood.

My work has been strongly influenced by my dual New Zealand Maori and European heritage and the impact of those cultures in contemporary New Zealand society. How we draw on our ancestry, and our past for strength and inspiration and how that shapes what we create in our lives is a very individual journey. Part of my journey is expressed in my work.

I spent the first 20 years of my working life as a brush trained signwriter, which was then a job with a significant artistic / design element. However, that work became largely computer driven over time and computers are not my thing! I later enrolled in an art and design diploma course at Waiariki Institute of Technology looking for inspiration and direction. There I found whakairo (carving) and then modern sculptural form, working with stone and chisel (no computers in sight). I left before completing the “paper work”, but with the direction I had been looking for.

In 2011 my interest turned to working with native reclaimed timbers which bring with them their own histories evidenced through their unique imperfections and wear.  I like to introduce colour with texture in the wood pieces, giving a strong design element which harks back to my brush- work and paint history.

In July 2012 we moved to a 2 hectare property in Tikitere Rotorua where I built my new studio from which I can now run classes and have developed the grounds into a gallery and  sculpture garden  featuring my work and the works of a number of NZ artists.  This is a long term project which has been a huge commitment and learning curve, but a very enjoyable one.  The feedback I get from the many visitors to our property has been very rewarding.

©2019 Aronui Festival