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Graphic Designer Jade Ormsby, Photographer Geoffrey Matautia aka Southsides, Waacking dancer Renée Sharp at Semi Permanent 2023.

Photo/PMN News/Aleyna Martinez


Semi Permanent design festival shares ‘golden nuggets’ of knowledge

Pacific creatives were among the hundreds who gathered in Wellington for the annual festival.

Aleyna Martinez
Aleyna Martinez
13 November 2023, 4:33pm
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Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. That was the message from creatives who gathered at the Semi Permanent annual design festival in Wellington.

South Auckland and Hamilton waacking dancer and artist Renée Sharp says hearing speakers encourage young creatives to be themselves and to seek like-minded people was the motivation she didn’t know she needed.

“Just to hear someone say, make work and more importantly put it out...I didn’t know I was gonna walk out feeling lifted. The knowledge shared was like golden nuggets.”

Guest speakers flying in from all over the world included the co-founder of Wēta workshops, Sir Richard Taylor, Meghan Kapoor editor and creative director of Vogue India, and Māori-Filipino Perth-based producer and artist, Taku.

Singer-songwriter and producer Seru Tuivoavoa aka NOE who is of Fijian heritage came to see keynote speaker Maru Nihoniho, the director of game design company Metia Interactive.

Maru Nihoniho, founder and managing director, Metia Interactive presents her next game coming out on PC and console, Guardian Maia.

“I’ve been a fan of her work for such a long time, just the indigenous aspect of her work, you don’t see that in games, I’m a gamer so I can’t wait to play it.”

Maru Nihoniho said in her opening speech her idea for Guardian Maia, an indigenous-themed action-adventure game, has taken 20 years to make and get to where it is now.

Without a prototype, she taught herself how to make video games by flying to conventions in the UK and US.

“I’ve been to Germany, the States and all over pitching this game I wanted to play when I started gaming in the early 2000s.”

It paid off. In 2017, she was awarded the MCVPacific Women in Games. Now, she leads a team of game designers and creatives at her company Metia Interactive. She’s in talks with publishers, aiming for a release on PC and console, Guardian Maia is expected to be out in two years.

Photographer and creative from Manurewa, Geoffrey Matautia aka Southside, said he loved seeing brown creativity flourish.

“Seeing these people be pioneers in their industry, be creative entrepreneurs was really inspiring.”

Matautia said he’d like to see more young people be able to attend, “subsidised or free”.

Creative director of Platform, Molawin Evangelista interviews recording artists & photographer Ta-ku. Photo/Supplied by Semi Permanent

Attending with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, graphic designer Jade Ormsby said their roupu attends every year to be inspired and “have a Māori representation in this very pākehā environment”.

His message to young creatives is “there’s a space for you, there’s heaps of opportunities out there and we need to be showing up and showing out”.

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