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Kōanga Festival: Māori Theatre is on the Move


Te Pou Theatre presents
1 – 16 September

Te Pou, Auckland’s home for Māori Theatre, is shifting house! In a bold move, Te Pou will in September take up a new residency at Henderson’s Corban Estate Arts Centre. This revolutionary new partnership will enable the company to spread its wings, offering upgraded facilities to larger audience numbers.

Te Pou will launch their new programming frame with the third iteration of the annual Kōanga Festival, a vital celebration of the breadth of Maori storytelling. From September 1-16, practitioners both established and emerging, will take over Te Pou’s new Henderson space with a range of performances, showcases, workshops, readings and social events.

Over the last four years, the growth of Te Pou has thrilled audiences and stimulated the growth of the local theatre sector. Embodying the literal meaning of its name ‘the support post’, Te Pou has provided hau kāinga to the work of exciting practitioners such as Albert Belz, Aroha Awarau, Krystal-Lee Brown, Rawiri Paratene, Noa Campbell and Jamie McCaskill, among countless others. The only professional theatre venue in West Auckland, Te Pou serves an annual audience of thousands.

As a playhouse for activity, the Corban Estate Arts Centre residency will see Te Pou work in relationship with Atamira Dance Company and Red Leap Theatre. Kaihautū Amber Curreen said, “this strategic alignment allows Te Pou to continue its relationship as part of the core theatre fabric of Tāmaki Makaurau in a more permanent and fit for purpose home. We’ve loved being in New Lynn but won’t miss the stomping from the basketball court or the cacophony from the tap dancing classes above our heads!”

The 2018 Kōanga Festival will focus Te Pou’s contribution to the inaugural NZ Theatre Month programme. At the heart of the programme is Whakarongo Mai, two evenings of live readings of new works on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September. Following a robust incubation period with leading dramaturgs, four Māori playwrights will have their work introduced to an audience for the first time. This koha event allows audiences to whakaaro with the writer, interrogating the emotional footprint of each story.

As a development platform, Whakarongo Mai has already proven impactful to the sector. 2017 playwright Jason Te Mete won the Adam NZ Play Award for Best Play by a Māori Playwright earlier this year for Little Black Bitch and Aroha Awarau’s Provocation (also developed in 2017) will also enjoy its world premiere later next year.

Whakarongo Mai received record submissions this year, four of which have been selected for development. Wāhine Māori Ani-Piki Tuari (Bless the Child; Maori Television’s Te Kāea) andAnnette Morehu (Mo & Jess Kill Susie) are writing their first plays, one of which is in te reo Māori. Te Pou will also celebrate the flourishing work for the LGBTQI+ community, developing works that articulate the transgender experience, with new work by DaeDae Tekoronga-Waka (The Wizard of Ōtāhuhu, Fresh TV) and iconic NZ performer Mika Haka.

With a focus on community engagement and whānau, the Kōanga programme is augmented by a number of important events including Tuhi Tika, a wananga for Māori playwrights, and the world premiere of Albert Belz’ award-winning Cradle Song, which will open September 5 in a production directed by Tainui Tukiwaho.

Named for the te reo word for Spring Time, Kōanga gathers together the community for a season of celebration. Heralded by the blossoming of the kōwhai and the call of the pīpīwharauroa (shining cuckoo) as it returns to our shores, spring is traditionally a time of joining together and combining efforts to plant for the next harvest. Kōanga Festival will prepare the ground and develop a fertile Auckland Māori Theatre creative economy outside of the busy Matariki season.

Te Pou: Auckland’s Māori Home of Theatre. Created by the people, for the people. Embracing all practitioners and audiences: then, now, future.

Saturday 1 – Sunday 16 September
Te Pou Theatre – Auckland’s Māori Home of Theatre

Saturday 1 September, 10am - 1pm [Free]
A warm and welcoming opening morning Morning Tea for kaumatua from the community with entertainment and storytelling. Contact if you’d like to nominate kaumatua to share in this event

September 5 – 8 September, 7.30pm [Ticketed]
The Church, Corban Estate Arts Centre, Henderson
Directed by Tainui Tukiwaho
Enjoy a night of chilling intrigue with this award-winning thriller nā leading Māori playwright Albert Belz. Donogh Rees (Find Me a Māori Bride, Pop-Up Globe) stars in this world premiere production from Te Rēhia Theatre Company, presented in partnership with Going West Festival.

Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September [Free]
The Cellar Theatre, Corban Estate Arts Centre
Back by popular demand. Te Pou Theatre offer playwrights, emerging and established, the opportunity to participate in two-day Māori playwrights’ masterclasses. To book a place in this free workshop please contact

Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September [Koha]
The Cellar , Corban Estate Arts Centre, Henderson
Two special evenings of new plays by Māori playwrights, presented here in double-bills.

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