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.”

If we could hug by Irihipeti Waretini and Bella Waru

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

About Irihipeti Waretini and Bella Waru

Irihipeti Waretini (36) is a visual and performance artist who collaborates with organisations and multidisciplinary artists to create and support POC narratives of culture, healing and self reclamation. Her practice includes photography, videography and performance art – singing, songwriting, composition and production.

Bella Waru (22) is a performer, bodyworker and storyteller living and learning on unceded Kulin lands. A diasporic Indigenous sovereign, queer, fluid, femme occupation. Waru navigates the honouring, realising and reimagining of their experiences through movement, voice, composition, writings, performance and facilitation. They create from the body as a vessel for personal, ancestral and environmental memory, and as an initiator of resurgence, healing, incantation, communication, manifestation, clearing.

Marcelina Pijewska (7) is a young emerging artist who held her first photographic exhibition in 2018 for New Way Finders ‘Reading Oceania’. She is a budding singer, songwriter and performer.

Collectively, Waretini, Waru and Pijewska are a whānau of three generations of Māori storytellers.

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

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