In our Meet the Team series we invite you to sit down and learn more about each SOUNZ staff member. Today we introduce Keri-Mei Zagrobelna our Kaiāwhina Puoro Māori | Māori Art Intern.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Kia Ora! My iwi affiliations are Te Āti Awa and Whānau-ā-Apanui. I was brought up here in Newtown, Wellington.

Where did you grow up? Where else have you lived?

When I was in my early teens my mother and I moved to Porirua. Later when I was 15/16 I moved to Nelson and studied art, after that I went to live in Kaikoura and became a scuba dive instructor and then pursued travelling throughout the south Island ending up in Invercargill for a time, playing music with friends, working and studying.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

When I am not working you will usually find me at my jewellery bench in my home studio here in Aro Valley either listening to music or Podcasts. I love creating unique bespoke pieces of jewellery that can become taonga for others. It is my dream to be able to set up a scholarship in honour of my late grandmother and mother for young contemporary Māori artists.

What is your earliest musical memory?

I think my earliest musical memories consist of attending Kapa Haka Monday nights at Ngāti Poneke and also the Junior Choir at St Marks church school.

What are the values that drive you?

I believe in the values of love, gratitude, acceptance and diversity.

I think that those values drive me in trying to be the best human that I can so that I can try to leave a positive imprint on this world. We are all human works in progress and life/ world is a giant classroom with lessons.

What has been your career progression?

I have been very honoured and lucky to have just been recently been awarded a placement within the MAI Internship program through Toi Māori in partnership here at SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music. I am very excited about this opportunity and progression within my career and what doors it will lead to in the future.

Favourite quote

My favourite quote is by Theodore Roosevelt “Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.” and my favourite whakatauki ( Māori Proverb) is “Kaua E Mate Wheke, Mate Ururoa” – meaning don’t die like an octopus, die like a hammerhead shark. I think both of these speak to resilience, gratitude and persistence towards achieving goals and dreams.

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi. I listened to an interview with her on Radio New Zealand and went and brought the book straight away. When I am not reading for research I enjoy fantasy novels, her book is rooted in Nigerian culture, taking inspiration from slavery, colonisation and the Black Lives Matter movement. It is raw, current and real.

Which four individuals, living or dead, would you like to eat dinner with most?

If I was to choose the first thing that pops into my mind would be my late grandmother Moanaroa and my late mum Krysia, I would then invite Oprah along and it would be a Wahine Toa feast and party!

What are three things still left on your bucket list?

  • Visit the Amazon Rainforest
  • Go to Antarctica
  • Have a child and raise them to be a super ninja.


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