He Huia Kaimanawa 2023

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

09/06/2023 - 11/06/2023

Kia Mau Festival 2023

Production Details

Co-Director / Designer: Bianca Hyslop
Co-Director/Designer: Rowan Pierce
Mātanga Matauranga Māori / Co-Devisor / Composer / Performer: Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield

He whakaaroha, ā, he kōtuinga tairongo o te nukuhanga, o te reo, o te whaitua me ngā hangarau mariko.
He mea huataki e Bianca Hyslop, kaitito nekehanga, rāua ko Rowan Pierce, kaihoahoa, a He Huia Kaimanawa. He whakaari mataora e urupare ana i te maieatanga, te tūhuratanga me te whakamānawatanga o te Reo Māori.
a titiro whakamuri ki ō mua rā me te kauneke whakamua ki te āpōpō, ā, ka puea ake i te whakaari ēnei mea te rirohanga me te whakahokinga, waihoki, he whakanui i te mahi a te tini nāna i para te huarahi e ora tonu ai te Reo Rangatira.
A poignant and affecting synergy of movement, voice, spatial design and virtual technologies.
Initiated by choreographer Bianca Hyslop and designer Rowan Pierce, He Huia Kaimanawa is a live performance experience that responds to the resurfacing, reclaiming and honoring of Te Reo Māori.
Looking to the past as we move into the future, the work brings to light these stories of loss and reclamation while celebrating the work of the many who have carved the path for the ongoing revitalisation of Te Reo Rangatira.
Visually potent and experientially impactful, He Huia Kaimanawa is a visceral exploration of learning Te Reo Māori as second language learners.

VENUE: Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre

DATE RANGE: Fri 9th – Sun 11th June 2023

TIMES: 7:30pm (Fri 9th – Sat 10th) and 4pm (Sun 11th)

PRICES: $10 – $35


Co-Devisor / Performer / Choreographic Mentorship: Kelly Nash
Co-Devisor / Performer: Nancy Wijohn
Co-Devisor / Performer: Samara Te Aniwa Reweti
Co-Devisor / Performer: Arohanui Watene
Mātanga Matauranga Māori / Co-Devisor / Composer / Performer: Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield

Co-Director / Designer: Bianca Hyslop
Co-Director/Designer: Rowan Pierce

Dance ,

60 minutes

Mature performers, at the height of their power.

Review by Olivia Platt and Lyne Pringle 11th Jun 2023

As we enter the space at Te Whaea’s theatre we see a black box lit with visuals of soundwaves paired with rumbling, ambient sound effects. The perfect setting for an intriguing and impactful performance which utilizes spatial design, lighting, virtual technologies to enhance the performances raw, physical contemporary dance and emotive vocal elements. This collaboration between Bianca Hyslop and performance design artist Rowan Pierce created a performance that blended so many elements together cohesively. 

The lighting was effective although perhaps a little too intense for some viewers. There were moments where the lights flashed harshly and extremely bright lights shone onto the audience but I feel that the intensity of the lighting was intentional. It enhanced the emotional experience for the viewer. The moments of intensity which were almost hard to watch were paired with moments of storytelling which were the most emotive, in which the characters were experiencing emotional turmoil. 

The performance is also the perfect interweaving of kapa haka and contemporary dance. I have often seen the two forms side by side but rarely are they fused together as seamlessly as in this show. The dancers incorporate elements of both forms into their movement and the choreography is cleverly placed to blend the two forms cohesively. 

  As someone who isn’t fluent in Te Reo Māori and hasn’t grown up immersed in the language, this story of reclamation and learning Te Reo Māori as a second language resonated with me personally and would likely resonate with many young people of Maori descent. It was special to be immersed in the language throughout the performance and it was great to be part of an audience of so many Te Reo Māori speakers. 

Language doesn’t exist on paper, it is a part of our mind, body and spirit. This performance is symbolic of how our language is a part of our identity and connects us all past, present and future. From our tūpuna to our tamariki. The performance begins with an older woman and ends with three young girls onstage. It was beautiful to see the intergenerational casting representing Te Reo being passed on to the next generation. He Huia Kaimanawa captures the shared experience of learning, honouring and reclaiming our language, community and identity. 
Olivia Platt

Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield is magnificent.  As  Mātanga Matauranga Māori, for the He Huia Kaimanawa whanau, she is a towering kohe kohe at the centre of the work with roots in river soil, limbs stretching skyward, flowers branching directly from the trunk; her wisdom and artistry providing the central pou for her co-devisors to blossom from.

What a great pleasure to see Kelly Nash and Nancy Wijohn dancing.   

Mature performers, at the height of their powers, bringing grounded sensitive strength – Nash, smoke and magic, Wijohn, calm alchemy.  They place each movement with care in the space and open up a channel for direct communication with their audience. 

Bianca Hyslop and Samara Te Aniwa Reweti in satisfying counterpoint complete the quartet. 

They share a clarity of intent in their movement as well as unique individuality – Hyslop the swish of stream and tide, Te Aniwa Reweti the dash of lightning in summer skies.

As co-devisors they carve the space with swirling arm driven sequences, tumbling and slicing in tight unison – Te Reo writ large, embodied. Peace, despair, anxiety, perplexation, exhilaration;  shifting emotional states beautifully portrayed in relation to the pursuit of their lost taonga. 

The work is a well-conceived and a clever representation of this journey.

All elements are held within the design of Rowan Pierce, as is the trademark of this creative duo. Bianca Hyslop bringing the blood and bone with her finely honed choreographic vocabulary and Pierce the architectural visual scape. The meticulous result is densely busy with intricate placements of sound, shadow, set, video and light. At times a central cube is tantalisingly opaque, then miraculously transparent as if meaning can be hidden then exposed. Amidst all this invention there is an argument to simplify and to, more frequently, leave only bodies in space to carry the message.

Multiple sections of the work are literally ‘hard to watch’ with juddering strobe effects and bright lights in the eyes of the audience. The affect is unsettling, the watcher jolted out of any complacency towards a sense of displacement caused by exclusion from the mother tongue, Te Reo. 

Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield inhabits another realm which the dancers can move in out of – a poignant portrayal of the Te Reo journey for somebody learning to reclaim their language with kaumatua/ancestor as guide.

A final image of a giant white air-filled polystyrene structure is initially clumsy but eventually yields a shape that is part beating heart, part tongue gyrating with the bodies of tamariki who are fully immersed in Te Reo. They, along with Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield swirling her glorious poi, are tasked with closing this intelligent and major work. Their assured and fervent voices of the future calling for huia kaimanawa – treasures from the past. 

Pervading the whole is Te Reo, whether karanga, moteatea, a beautifully articulated mihi, a stumbling sentence or a strident wero, the ears are invited to be alert, to listen; for those fluent in the reo, to understand and for those coming up to speed to strive to understand. Language is danced, embodied. All are invited to pay attention, to take note, to appreciate this personal representation of the difficulties and joys of reclaiming a language that was curtailed and taken away. He Huia Kaimanawa captures the exhilaration that can exist in equal measure with despair on this journey of comprehension.

Kei ware ware i a koutou kāore i tua atu i te korero hei whakapakari i te reo.
Lyne Pringle


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