Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Revival of ‘Haka Theatre’ During Rugby World Cup

News Release

For Immediate Release

August 2011

Revival of ‘Haka Theatre’ During Rugby World Cup 2011 Celebrations

A new evolution of powerful Māori performance, first developed 100 years ago, has its world premiere as part of the REAL New Zealand Festival during Rugby World Cup 2011. It’s called Haka Theatre and it blends several Māori performing arts into a dramatic stage show called Arohanui – The Greatest Love.

Proudly presented by Te Matatini Society Inc, host of the biennial National Māori Kapa Haka Championships and the national body for promoting Māori performing arts, as well as Aotearoa Kapa Haka, and a key event in the REAL New Zealand Festival, it’s an explosive and moving full-length stage show performed by a cast of over 30 of the country’s top kapa haka performers.

The show combines the drama, beauty, uniqueness and energy of several traditional and contemporary Māori performing arts including waiata tangi (laments), haka, choreographed war scenes, theatre, the elegance of the poi, the technicality of Māori games and the natural harmonies of Māori song all woven into a powerful theatre experience.

Te Matatini Executive Director, Darrin Apanui says they’re extremely proud that Arohanui – The Greatest Love has been chosen as one of the key cultural events to represent New Zealand arts and culture to the world in October.

“This production brings together many of the varieties of Māori theatrical expressions into a compelling and widely accessible show that will appeal to avid kapa haka supporters, New Zealanders who have felt the pride of watching a haka on a rugby field but never experienced a live Māori stage performance and the international rugby visitors looking for a truly unique Māori cultural experience. It’s in English and Te Reo and the story’s universal themes mean the show will appeal to all ages and nationalities.”

Haka Theatre began 100 years ago when respected Waikato Māori leader, Princess Te Puea Herangi created a band to perform and raise funds to build a marae at Turangawaewae, Ngāruawāhia which is the heart of Te Kingitanga (the Māori King Movement). Princess Te Puea’s group was Te Pou o Mangatawhiri. This wasn’t just a kapa haka group, they blended many Māori performances. They all played instruments, sang, did the poi, and haka in shows mainly around the east coast of the North Island.

“To be able to carry on this tradition and evolve it to a this level of collaboration between so many of our top Kapa Haka performers from different iwi is incredibly special for Māori Performing arts, ”says Darren Apanui.“

Arohanui – The Greatest Love came from a concept by kapa haka leader Annette Wehi (Te Waka Huia). It has been written by Helen Pearse-Otene and jointly directed by Annette Wehi, Tanemahuta Gray (Maui – One Man Against the Gods), Jim Moriarty and Helen Pearse-Otene.

Annette Wehi says it’s the first time kapa haka stars from different iwi have collaborated for a theatrical production.

“For me it’s an opportunity to work with the best of the best both on and off stage. This show includes some of the best compositions, choreographers, and performers. To have the whole cast as experts in different areas and to be able to work alongside them is amazing.“

The show is a dramatic and compelling story of love, revenge and torn loyalties. Twins Kahu and Mira are raised to avenge their father’s death at the hands of mystical people called Patupaiarehe. But when Kahu falls in love with the Patupaiarehe princess he is forced to make the ultimate choice between his family and the love of his life.

Artistic Director Tanemahuta Gray says the energy around the creation of the show has been tremendous.

“Just the process of harnessing all the creative minds has been great. We’re all keen to show this new evolution of kapa haka we’re calling Haka Theatre to our own people and those from around the world. The blending of kapa haka performance with waiata, dance and drama is not a totally new concept but it’s one that we feel we have taken to a new level with this show.”

Jim Moriarty, known to many New Zealanders as an actor and director in film, theatre, television, and radio around New Zealand and the world for over 40 years, is one of the directors for Arohanui – The Greatest Love. He says the show is uplifting not only for the audience but also for the performers.

“This is the Haka universe here. The winners are coming together to create a quality show. There’s a parallel with the rugby, but instead of coming to smash each other in the tackle, we’ve come to elevate each other through collective excellence. These are hugely talented individuals choosing to work in unison. That’s what we do.”

Arohanui is funded through Manatū Taonga/Ministry for Culture and Heritage and is a flagship event for the REAL New Zealand Festival.

“Visitors and New Zealanders have an unprecedented opportunity to experience a rare fusion of top level kapa haka, theatre and dance. This is an event which absolutely sits at the heart of what the festival is all about – it’s a unique, quintessentially Kiwi event, that celebrates what is special about Māori culture and about our place,”says REAL New Zealand festival director Briony Ellis.

Arohanui – The Greatest Love is being staged in Wellington and Auckland for the REAL New Zealand Festival that’s on around the country during Rugby World Cup 2011. The world premiere season begins at The Opera House in Wellington with four performances from October the 6th to the 9th and then a further 8 shows at the Dorothy Winstone Centre, situated inside Auckland Girls’ Grammar, from the 13th to the 21st of October.

Due to the limited shows and seats, Darrin Apanui urges those interested to book quickly through Ticketek.

Arohanui – The Greatest Love is proudly presented by Te Matatini Society Inc, host of the biennial National Māori Kapa Haka championships. Te Matatini's purpose is to nurture and develop kapa haka throughout Aotearoa and present the best of Māori performance to the world.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Joel Coen's Monochromatic Macbeth

The Bard of Avon may well be smirking up the sleeves of his lace doublet at the irony of Will Smith's Oscar debacle, but now that the initial furore has dissipated, it's worth revisiting the movie for which Denzel Washington was also nominated. More>>

Howard Davis: Kenneth Branagh’s Black & White Belfast

Branagh has assembled a wonderful cast, including Ciarán Hinds, a gently formidable actor who well deserves his Oscar nomination, and Judi Dench, who steals every scene she’s in. More>>

Howard Davis: Dennis Villeneuve’s Dune - A Brief History

So many elements of Herbert’s novel have since become tropes of popular SciFi that Villeneuve’s film sometimes seems deceptively derivative. What makes all this nonsense essential viewing is his astonishing visual sensibility. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which has been republished by Te Papa press. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland