Image Credit: If we could hug (still image) – Irihipeti Waretini and Bella Waru

If we could hug by Irihipeti Waretini and Bella Waru


“If we could hug… it would feel like coming home.

This film is an open letter to our community – an audio-visual care package reminding the people we love how it feels to be held by us, with an offering of connectedness, appreciation and warmth.

This is one of the ways we are maintaining care and support for the collective wellbeing of our community within the restrictions of physical distance.”

**Video Description:**Footage of the hands and arms of Aida, Aïsha, Ella, Marcelina, Rolly, Senuri, Tanya and Bella appear in front of panels of yellow/orange fabric, with shadowed silhouettes of arms and bodies, superimposed over one another, fading between images. Some arms and hands are adorned with tattoos and ancestral markings. They slowly caress the fabric in upward and downward strokes, reach for other hands across the fabric and clutch the fabric in embraces. The silhouettes appear to caress each others arms and reach for one another. In one shot the hands carry and manipulate a draped deep blue fabric. The action of hands flipping from palm-up to palm-down repeats a number of times throughout.

At the end, text appears over the swaying fabric panels reading: ‘If we could hug… Irihipeti Waretini & Bella Waru’ followed by, ‘To the hands who held us through this, Aida Azin, Aïsha Trambas, Ella Benore Rowe, Marcelina Pijewska, Rolly Loughlin, Senuri Chandrani, Tanya Grant’.

Aida Azin
Aïsha trambas
Ella Benore Rowe
Marcelina Pijewska
Rolly Loughlin
Senuri Chandrani
Tanya Grant

If we could hug by Irihipeti Waretini and Bella Waru is created for Shelter 2020.


Irihipeti Waretini

Visual and Vocal Storyteller

Irihipeti Waretini is of Ngāti Rangi descent, whose experiences of home and healing on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung peoples, determine every aspect of her trans-disciplinary practice. A visual and vocal storyteller, Irihipeti’s mediums are vast and fluid. A collection of gifts in contemporary Māori art, photography, film, movement, personal essay, soundscape, audio scripts, live looping, and taonga puoro (traditional Māori flute). Waretini Productions is a collaboration with her brother Eneti Te Kooro and his practise of projection art and 3d modelling. A community and cultural engagement practitioner working at the intersection of arts and wellbeing, Irihipeti develops repositories of Indigenous methodologies, experiences and viewpoints through various collaborations, creative ventures, movements and wellness-based practises. Providing tools and spaces of learning for the self-determination of the very communities who have fed and raised her and her daughter Marcelina.

Bella Waru

Movement and Sound Artist, Cultural Producer, Performer, Weaver, Community Arts Facilitator and Body Worker

Bella Waru (Ngati Tukorehe // Te Ati Awa) is a movement and sound artist, cultural producer, performer, weaver, community arts facilitator and body worker living, listening and responding across sacred, unceded indigenous lands, currently those of the Kulin nation in so-called-australia. For the past 2 years, they have worked in the community arts sector with BigHart as a YouthArts Mentor, working with young people in Frankston schools, facilitating capacity-building workshops and supporting the production of community arts events and content. They are a bodyworker/traditional Māorihealer of 4 years and a traditional martial arts practitioner of 2 years. They have now taken up a position as Vice Chair and Kaiako MauTaiaha/teacher for Te Ara Hononga - the MāoriWeaponry school based on Kulin Country.