Charles Koroneho | TUA O TE ARAI – beyond the veil, after death

Live Presentation

Re-addressing the Space of Grief, Bereavement and Lamentation

Presented by Charles Koroneho

Shrouded in mystery, the passage of the dead in Maori ancestral stories are relayed as a series of arduous tests to complete on their way to the ancient homeland of Hawaiki. A spiritual hiatus takes place at Te Arai, a real and liminal site, resting place for spirits, talisman space created by the dead, symbols of a life lived, lamentation artifacts, remembrance objects both real and abstract.

Crawl, walk, run, and dance Tua o Te Arai, a world beyond ours, transit of the departed, ephemeral footsteps, relentless journey.

Tua o Te Arai examines the space of grief, bereavement and lamentation; explore the individual, communal and ancestral body in ceremonial space and performance. It will investigate indigenous perspectives of the soma-body dichotomy, incorporate research approaches that espouse somatics and explore the premise of an indivisible human body. To contextualize TUA O TE ARAI the research considers how ceremony functions in the creation of cultural space and why indigenous bodies occupy and inhabit this space.

From an indigenous perspective, it is in tangihanga (funerals) where the body of the dead are revealed in ceremonial and spiritual stasis. What transpires is an experience of deceased, decomposing, communal and living grief bodies transitioning in ceremony to ancestral, transcendent, imaginary beings. The concept of temporary death spaces as experienced in tangihanga, is an example of how a body can have spiritual agency and cosmological significance.

Presentation – Nga Wheturangitia

An important aspect of the tangihanga is the ceremonial recognition of the separation of body and spirit. Through the use of oratory, song and poetry two pathways are presented as possible destinations, Hawaiki – ancestral home and Nga whetu – the night sky. It is believed that a chosen path is guided by the living and the dead, that those past and present have a role in the journey. Therefore, how we in life prepare for death and our dead, can assist in the transformation of those who pass from living to lifelessness.

The cosmological origin of celestial and terrestrial bodies from ancestral stories of Aotearoa New Zealand, mediate my understanding of the intersections between dance, theatre and design. The ongoing research of indigenous creativity and movement cultures has created the contestable landscape of resistance and inquiry by which I currently explore the precipice of indigenous performance making. I view the intersections of these fields of research a territory with abundant potential for political, cultural, philosophical intervention and transgressive creativity.