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Celebrating Maori Theatre

Te Pūtahitanga a te Rēhia

Celebrating Maori Theatre

At no other time in our history has the Māori Theatre sector had such a vast range of experience, talent and skill on offer.

For decades, Māori theatre has featured in our regional arts festivals and, more often than not, is the theatre that represents us internationally. The growth in Māori Theatre over this time has seen the sector move from relying on one production company to multiple companies whose work is expanding in its depth and diversity.

“Increased depth, variety and quality doesn’t necessarily equate to increased opportunities though” says Jason Te Kare, Pūtahi Festival Producer. “Māori Theatre deserves more; it deserves its own festival here.

Māori artists can gather and be stimulated by each other - opposing the current model of competing for funding, venues and regional festival spots. It gives our artists a chance to contribute. A chance to challenge themselves and the quality of their work.”

Te Pūtahitanga a te Rēhia - an Independent Māori Theatre collective of professionals (such as Jim Moriarty, Nancy Brunning, Tanemahuta Gray and Hone Kouka) has formed to support and strengthen the sector, advocate for change within the current infra-structure and support the needs of the community at present.

The roopu's first project together is Pūtahi Festival – a week of choice Māori theatre.

“All the work in the festival is presented by Māori companies featuring Māori writers and performers, but more than that, the festival is infused with Māori values like manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and what it means to be a good host. The festival not only begins and ends with kaupapa Māori but IS kaupapa Māori, from top to bottom, inside and out” says Te Kare.

Tawata Productions, created by Miria George and Hone Kouka and celebrating it's 10th birthday this year, is presenting Kouka's newest work the beautiful ones. The hyper real digital love story weaves together a handful of Aotearoa’s finest artists from theatre, dance & music scenes.

Te Rākau Hua O Te Wao Tapu, established by Jim Moriarty and Jerry Banse in 1989, is a company known for its use of 'Theatre Marae' to work in marginalised and mainstream communities. The company is presenting their moving story of friendship, loyalty, madness and redemption The Battalion by Helen Pearse-Otene, directed by Jim Moriarty.

Tikapa Productions, a company committed to creating professional performance and the development of actors and musicians, is presenting Bruce Mason Award 2013 recipient Jamie McCaskill's new work Not in our Neighbourhood, a solo show on life at the Women's Refuge.

Two new works are having readings during the festival - Nancy Brunning's play Hikoi - a journey of love that follows the lives of two generations dealing with a radically changing world and their way of saying something about it, and Steph Matuku's award winning A Story of Rona, a prequel to the classic legend of Rona.

Rounding out the festival is TGI Whanau – an evening of fine Māori music and company.

“Coming together offers each company, and individual, a sense of belonging, the courage to continue creating for Wellington audiences” says Nancy Brunning. “I hope Pūtahi Festival encourages new projects, employment, a growing community. It takes an honest, strong and supportive community working together to grow your ideas and develop your skill base - with that anything can be accomplished. “

The festival is on from 25 February - 1 March at Studio 77, 77 Fairlie Terrace, Kelburn, Wellington.

Go to for more information or for further insights into the companies and performers.


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