Interview with Bethany Edmunds 'Miss b.Me'

Miss bMe (aka Bethany Matai Edmunds) performing with her band Kinaki on the Aotearoa stage at Pasifika Festival, March 2014

Miss bMe (aka Bethany Matai Edmunds) performing with her band Kinaki on the Aotearoa stage at Pasifika Festival, March 2014

Bethany Matai Edmunds a.k.a Miss b.Me is a weaver, artist, fiber sculptor and Hip Hop lyricist. Edmunds visual work is grounded in traditional Maori weaving which she conceptually translates using traditional materials and fibers, combined with contemporary denim and mixed media, which further expresses her experiences of being a culture bearer of 'pART mAOri' descent. Lyrically, Edmunds also called Miss b.Me, explores similar concepts which she poetically expresses through cultural references and feminine flows, combining stories inspired by her Maori heritage and her unique worldview of life as an artist, poet and MC. Edmunds has a strong focus on the enhancement of taitamariki, young people, through the use of the arts, and ensuring that nga taonga tuku iho, the skills passed down from our ancestors, are retained for future generations.

Weaving of Bethany Edmunds: 'Raninikura' Kuta and Pingao (sedge grass that grows in the sand dunes) This garment is a woven personification of Raninikura the daughter of our famous tupuna Tohe, and references the transient tribal connections of Te Hiku o te Ika (the Tail of the fish of Maui/ the far north). The materials are sourced from Muriwhenua (another name for the far north), and the golden colour palette of Kuta and Pingao suggests the glistening image of Raninikura that Tohe held in his memories.

Weaving of Bethany Edmunds: 'Raninikura' Kuta and Pingao (sedge grass that grows in the sand dunes) This garment is a woven personification of Raninikura the daughter of our famous tupuna Tohe, and references the transient tribal connections of Te Hiku o te Ika (the Tail of the fish of Maui/ the far north). The materials are sourced from Muriwhenua (another name for the far north), and the golden colour palette of Kuta and Pingao suggests the glistening image of Raninikura that Tohe held in his memories.

"As a descendant of the far north living in the city it’s the taura here of my whakapapa that connects me to my cultural identity and the land that my tupuna are from. I often feel like a manu aute, with my wings spread and my eyes wide open, riding wind currents, and soaking up sights and smells, acknowledging influences and celebrating and creating connections and reference points in this multi-cultural global world we live in, asking myself what does it mean to be urban indigenous? For so many of us whose whakapapa Māori is diluted our connections to the north are dislocated, how do we achieve the success that our grandparent’s generation strove for when they moved to the city? Reclaiming knowledge and sustainable practices and at the same time embracing our Māori identity to innovate, interpret and be proud of the influences and materials available in our immediate environment." - Bethany Matai Edmunds BAA, MA (Ngati Kuri, Pohotiare) 

Tune in for Epidode 13, interview with Bethany Edmunds 'Miss b.Me', airing August 10, 2014.

Learn more about Miss b.Me and her band Kinaki HERE