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New Maori Theatre Company Presents Two Plays

Te 25 o nga ra o Whiringa-a-rangi 2003


Auckland's new Maori theatre company will stage two plays early month (Dec).

Koanga Maori Theatre Company presents 'Death of the Land' and 'Te Ohaaki a Nihe' at Tatai Hono Marae, 10 Burleigh St, Grafton, at 7.30pm from December 2 to 5.

'Death of the Land' was the second play published by a Maori playwright, Rowley Habib, who was the first Maori recipient of the Katherine Mansfield scholarship. Written in 1975, it deals with differing Maori views towards land and its use - issues pertinent then with the Whina Cooper-led land march and still relevant today nearly 30 years later with the current foreshore and seabed debates. Te Paki Cherrington of stage, film, radio and television fame directs a cast of new actors led by Claude Te Kawa.

Veteran actor/director Don Selwyn directs the first play ever published in both English and Maori, 'Te Ohaaki a Nihe'. Written by Selwyn Muru in 1983, 'Ohaaki' takes a warm-hearted look at whanau dynamics and inter-generational relationships of a Maori family living in the city away from home - where the 'Best Bets' is the bible of the house.

Formed at the beginning of this year, Koanga Maori Theatre Company derives its name and whakapapa from Te Koanga Spring Festival of Maori Arts held in 1990. Hosted by Nga Puna Waihanga and Dame Georgina Kirby, this festival celebrated Maori arts including drama.

'Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti', translated by Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones and directed by Don Selwyn, premiered during this festival in the church at Tatai Hono Marae. Don Selwyn says it's fitting to take the first steps as a theatre company at Tatai Hono and perform two original Maori plays.

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"The kaupapa of Koanga is to establish an active Maori theatre company in Auckland, and provide theatrical experience and opportunities to all interested kaumatua (elders), pakeke (adults), rangatahi (youth) and tamariki (children)," Koanga Maori Theatre Company says. "We want to develop Maori writing and to grow a Maori theatre audience by taking theatre back to the marae and making it accessible."


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