We had the good fortune of connecting with Aroha Pehi and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aroha, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Many things factor into why I chose the Arts. Being a First Nations Australian it’s something that I am born with. To keep it short, as an Indigenous person, we look at the way of living as a piece of string. The string is made up of many threads; these threads are what make us, us. One thread is music, one is dance, art, knowledge, Lore, community, etc. All of these threads have a purpose in the string and we are the string. In saying that, my choice to become an Independent Artist was organic. The Arts and Creative pathways is an outlet for many voices, I use my voice for my people and the injustices that are done to not only them physically and mentally, but for the lands on which we live. To sum it up, I chose this career to have a voice.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a First Nations Australian creative, that already is its own category. To be able to speak on my own Indigenous experience and Stories is something I am grateful to be able to do. I guess what sets myself apart is my lived experience as an Indigenous woman and how this experience is relatable to many other Indigenous people. To be able to relate or educate an audience is such an amazing thing and to be able to do it physically, without verbal explanation, is something every creative strives for. The experience/feeling is visceral.

I attended NAISDA Dance College (National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development), for four years graduating with a Diploma in Professional Dance Performance. NAISDA is an Indigenous Arts establishment exclusively for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia. Would I say it was easy? Yes and No. Yes, because I was surrounded by people who knew the same struggles I faced as an Indigenous person and no, because at that time I had no confidence in myself or my culture. Educating myself on my history and the history of my Indigenous people is something that started a fire in me. It made me realise that what I was becoming was not just a dancer, but was a voice. A voice for my people in the present, from the past and for the future. To be able understand others, you have to know yourself.

One lesson that I will always remember is something that I learnt after I graduated, it is no one is going to hand you the opportunity, you need to make the opportunity. If you want something and you have that drive, that passion and determination to get it no matter what, then do it. The struggle is where the magic happens. I’m still on my journey to success, whatever that may be. I guess that’s a big reason why I chose to become an Independent Artist, it’s unpredictable and it’s always evolving.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many places I would take them. First and foremost, THE BEACH! I absolutely love Maroubra Beach, its great for it’s cafes, fish and chips shop, scenic walks, surf, it has it’s own pool if you don’t like open water, the cliffs for views and obviously the beach. Not too far from there is La Parouse, which is a historical site and also one of the last Indigenous missions of Sydney was located. For a night out, I would take them in either Newtown or Darling Harbour. Both have amazing restaurants and bars. But if you want harbour views with amazing places to explore Darling Harbour has got you, they have clubs all in walking distance, the Maritime Museum and an awesome Chinese garden not too far from there also. It’s really got everything. I love my local cafe, Charles Corner, it’s honestly the best place for people, food and coffee! So just know that if you’re staying with me everyday is the perfect day for Charles coffee. But, other than exploring the city myself, my time is usually spent weaving or at dance rehearsal and training.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost I give my thanks to God. Secondly, without the support of my family I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to do a lot of things in life including being an Independent Artist. No matter the choice I made in my life they were always there every step of the way, even if it wasn’t physically. Lastly, I’d like to Shout myself out, because without my determination and passion for what I believe in, I finally have the confidence to put myself out there.

Instagram: @aroha.pehi

Facebook: Aroha Pehi

Image Credits
Amy Flannery Aroha Pehi

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