A ‘Māori elite’ tours the nation

Artist Hohepa Hori Thompson.

For Hohepa ‘Hori’ Thompson, art is everything.

A performer and artist not shy of controversy in addressing colonisation, Thompson puts on his comedian hat this month touring The Māori Elite Show.

Thompson describes the show as political satire, where he tries to answer questions about Māori elitism. It is in a sense, he says, his response to the anti-co-governance tour; launching his own and offering a more Māori perspective but through a comedic lens. As part of the response, Thompson references five art pieces he created around the co-governance debate.

For many, it’s an awkward, confusing and uncomfortable conversation but Thomspon says he likes the “niggly.”

Living in the Kāpiti Coast town of Ōtaki, where he runs a gallery and shop with his wife Mia Brennan, Thompson says his art and expressions are his way of “decolonising himself”, a journey that is still going on.

Thompson spoke to Culture 101′s Perlina Lau about why he spent more than a decade shunning his Māori identity, and why he finally decided to reclaim the title ‘Hori’.

The Maori Elite Show is in Nelson 23 November, Christchurch 24 November and Wellington 30 November. Details here.

Listen here to RNZ’s interview with Thompson about The Māori Elite Show.