Cat Ruka (Ngāpuhi, Waitaha) is the artistic director of the Tempo Dance Festival, Aotearoa's long-standing dance festival that took its programme fully digital for 2020. The latest season, Putiputi, is running free online until December 30; with performances shared on Tempo’s website and social media platforms, there’s also the chance to donate to the artists through the website.
Cat, who is doing her PhD research in Decolonial Arts Leadership, is a respected leader in the local creative arts, having worked as a performing arts educator and mentor. She’s also the co-founder of Heart Party, a fantastic clothing initiative that donates 50 percent of profits to live performance-makers - to further help artists, particularly impacted by Covid.
Fittingly, her recent purchases come from a variety of local creative and small businesses, from pottery to digital art.
You know you're getting old when you start investing in dinnerware, lol. Recently I went along to the Raglan Arts Weekend with my bestie, and while I was there I think I went to Tony Sly's pottery studio like, four or five times! It's a super cute lil’ spot down on the wharf with retail in the front and a studio out back. If you want thick, heavy, classic pieces for the table that can go on high-rotation and can handle getting knocked about by the kids, this is the one! I have the 'Classic' dinner plates and 'Rustic Drip Series' bowls and still fiending for more.
I'd been hearing about this sister-run spot for a while but only just made my way there recently. I think having to dress in sportswear a lot when I was dancing means that I now still favour comfort and ease in my clothing over anything else. We all know that when it comes to comfortable sportswear, you can't beat vintage, and Hunting Ground has nailed it. These sissies have super good taste and a fine curatorial eye. It took me about five minutes to go in and walk out with three bangers: a Tupac T-shirt, a Betty Boop crewneck and an army camo crop-jacket.
During lockdown my dear friend Zoe Nicholson and I started up Heart Party, which is a charitable business that supports local artists. It's an online clothing and accessories shop that donates 50 percent of its profits to live performance-makers. Through the work that we both do at Tempo, we were seeing how insane the struggles were for artists to make work post-Covid (as if it wasn't hard enough already!), so we wanted to see what we could do to help.
Okay - so this lil’ puppy is always in my pantry and it's the business. It's a Japanese delight of seven spices and can go with or on anything. If you're a cracker or toast fiend like me - sis - sprinkle this on your avocado and you're good to go. Wanna make your fish-dish more flavoursome? Lessgo Shichimi goodness. Salad needs a taste-lift? Sprinkle the magicccc. I get mine from Japan Mart, or try Farro Fresh. Invest in happiness folks.
Another amazing thing to come out of lockdown was having the goddess that is Hannah Davis-Gray custom-design a ring for me! Hannah is honestly the coolest jeweller out right now, and the loveliest person too. Sad for you though because she isn't taking custom orders right now, due to being so hella busy (yes Benee wears her shit) - but tbh, there's more than enough beauty to choose from on her website or via a range of stockists. The best thing? Her practice is sustainable, ethical and all made by hand.
This right here is my staple homegirl that I've been wearing for about four years; she's reliable, evocative, and can be worn for any occasion day or night (or no occasion at all). I just grab mine from Mecca Maxima and somehow I can make one bottle last almost a year. Be careful though - the signature bottle can slip out of your hands quite easily. Don't do what I did and drop it on the shop floor so that it smashes to a thousand pieces. My daughter still mocks me about that.
Digital artist Chelsea Strickland (Ngāti Whātua) started up an Insta side-hustle called Tamahine Tribe Studio, where she creates digital portraiture of wahine Māori and their daughters. She takes you through a really beautiful process where she works with your pepeha to custom design an image that has your whakapapa woven into it. The image that she created of my daughter Lucci and I totally encapsulates both of our ahua and we will treasure it forever.
Photos / Supplied, Ralph Brown