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Whale Rider Star to narrate Tuwhare production

Whale Rider Star to narrate Tuwhare production

Rawiri Paratene


Mâori actor Rawiri Paratene (Nga Puhi) has been confirmed as the narrator for upcoming New Zealand International Arts Festival co-production Tuwhare.

Paratene gained international acclaim with the New Zealand film Whale Rider and is well known and loved by New Zealanders in their 20s and 30s who grew up watching him on Playschool. Over the last 30 years in the entertainment industry, Paratene has won acclaim as an actor, writer, director, producer and tutor.

In the Festival performances of Tuwhare, Paratene will guide the audience through a celebration of New Zealand poet Hone Tuwhare’s work in a unique concert by top recording artists from around Aotearoa.

“I have been an admirer of Hone since I was a schoolboy. I have been proud of him and I claim him as an elder as he and my mother are related... he looks like my Grandfather,” says Paratene. “I regard him as the most magnificent performance poet I have ever seen and am hoping Hone will be in the audience. I love his charm and sense of humour and his immense intellect and moving wairua. He is a renaissance figure to us Mâori!”

Paratene got close to Tuwhare during his involvement with Nga Tamatoa in the early seventies. The pair met up again during Paratene’s term as Assistant Artistic Director of the Fortune Theatre (1980 - 82) and as the Robert Burns Fellow in 1983 in Dunedin.

“I am thrilled Rawiri has agreed to be the narrator of Tuwhare,” says Carla van Zon, the Festival’s Artistic Director. “I think he is absolutely perfect for this role, which continues his long association with the Festival. In the past he has performed in top-billing Festival productions Waiora and Blue Smoke, which toured extensively. “It will be an honour to have Rawiri join us. Apart from the strength and professionalism of his work, he always brings his generous heart to every production. Hone, too, is delighted that Rawiri will be involved in the show,” says Tuwhare director Charlotte Yates.

12 recording artists from Hinemoana Baker to Te Kupu (Dean Hapeta of Upper Hutt Posse), WAI to Goldenhorse, Graham Brazier and Don McGlashan will transform Tuwhare’s words into lyrics for songs that cover a wide range of styles, capturing the diversity in both his writing and New Zealand music.

This 80-minute journey into the heart of New Zealand arts and culture, sponsored by The Dominion Post with support from Creative New Zealand, Toi Mâori Aotearoa and Smokefree Arts, will be performed at the Wellington Town Hall in three cabaret-style performances.

Tuwhare director Charlottes Yates was commissioned by Toi Mâori Aotearoa to produce a CD that celebrated the poetry of Hone Tuwhare. The CD, released during New Zealand Music Month in 2005, received rave reviews. Now, the same set of contemporary New Zealand musicians who played on the Tuwhare CD come together to present this uplifting musical tribute, live. The concert is a co-production of Toi Mâori Aotearoa and the New Zealand International Arts Festival. A culmination of New Zealand art, culture and heritage, Tuwhare pays homage to one of our greatest living poets.

Praise for Tuwhare: “…a fantastic document of not only New Zealand music but also New Zealand art and culture.”

Performance Dates: Sat 11 – Mon 13 March, 8.30pm, Town Hall, Wellington


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