MANAWA ORA: Stories from the Street

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland LIVE, Auckland

15/10/2014 - 18/10/2014

Production Details


Auckland Live is delighted to announce the return of Manawa Ora: Stories from the Street, Nga Rangatahi Toa’s live inter-arts performance to Auckland’s Herald Theatre this October.

This explosive season features one-act plays and performance pieces, interwoven with artworks and music. All of the work is created by twelve rangatahi (youth) in collaboration with some of New Zealand’s foremost artists and produced over a week of intensive workshops.

The mentors for the 2014 season of Manawa Ora include: musician Ladi 6, writer/director/actor Oscar Kightley, Boy actor Pana Hema-Taylor, actors Vinnie Bennett (Fantail), Cian Elyse White (Fantail) and Aroha White, rapper and performance poet Tourettes, and artist Josh Paki.

Audiences will experience monologues in which stories from the street are brought to life on the stage. The artist and rangatahi pairs will create large-scale murals while musicians will work with youth on soundtracks that will be interwoven through the performances. Directed by Fantail film maker Curtis Vowell, the stories will come together to form one explosive theatre production that brings to light tomorrow’s talent.

Manawa Ora is a cornerstone of Nga Rangatahi Toa’s work. The trust was founded as a creative arts initiative to empower marginalised Auckland rangatahi. The organisation’s programmes assist students excluded from mainstream education and have a 100 percent success rate in transitioning rangatahi into work or study.

Manawa Ora gives rangatahi the opportunity to develop a creative response to their life experience and cultural identity using the medium of theatre, music or visual arts.

The workshop for Manawa Ora starts 3 October and rehearsals take place 12-14 October.  Performances will be 15-18 October and include four evening performances. An earlier season in January 2013 was performed to full houses. A Q&A session to follow each show will allow the audience the opportunity to connect with the cast and crew.

Founder and creative director Sarah Longbottom, Manawa Ora mentors and rangatahi are all available for interviews. An image from the previous performance of Manawa Ora is attached; others can be provided on request.

Manawa Ora is held in partnership with Auckland Live and Creative New Zealand, with support from Waitemata Local Board, eighthirty coffee roasters, Scenic Hotels, and Federal Delicatessen.

Auckland Live and Nga Rangatahi Toa present  
Manawa Ora: Stories from the Street 
Wed 15 to Sat 18 October, 7pm 
Live at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre 
Ticket:  $20* adult / $15* concession
Book Now: or 09 970 9700 (*service fees apply)

Crystal Taratu, Rayquan Teariki, Sipa Deidoe, William Rakena, Chiquita Pepa, Fred Baice, Neville Rakena, Kahurangi Manuel, Shane Petana, Elijah Luafutu-Tito and Adrian Sampson

Ladi6, Chip Matthews, Oscar Kightley, Pana Hema-Taylor, Vinnie Bennett, Aroha White, Aroha Newby, Tourettes and Josh Paki

Say YES to seeing these stories creatively told

Review by Dione Joseph 16th Oct 2014

Last night Nga Rangatahi Toa’s Manawa Ora: Stories from the Streets opened at the Herald Theatre at Aotea Centre.

It was the culmination of an intensive week between a group of youth, some fanatic mentors and all the support that an organization like Manawa Ora could provide. And you didn’t have to wait till the end of the showcase to know the entire audience would jump to their feet to give the rangatahi a standing ovation.

Stories are important. Told in their own words, on their own terms. Stories enable us to make transitions, acknowledge the past and look ahead to the future. This is what Stories from the Streets brings to the stage – both to its audiences as well as its performers and whanau. They say, unequivocally: we are here.

The hour and half showcase begins with each rangatahi opening with an admission, a desire, a fear; a process of identification that locates them in some context and their listeners. But really they don’t need that because their stories give everything and more. 

And when it starts it does so in a big way. POW. The stories pour out. Beautiful, heart-wrenching, each unique and beautiful, supported physically through their mentors standing beside them – and displaying a wealth of talent across storytelling, rap, photography, curation, song-writing and dance. It is powerful, uninhibited and true.

As I watch these young people share their journeys I feel (as every other audience member surely does) that intrinsic pact that we make with the person on stage. That unwavering support, the desire to see them succeed, for themselves and their whanau; for us because we believe in them. And the unrestrained applause after each piece is proof that in that space for those 90 minutes we are a community. We are present. We are listening. We are responding.

During the Q&A that followed the performance one of the young rangatahi asked “Have you ever seen anything like this?” and the majority of the audience chorused “No”.

Why is this? Why are we surprised that our young people have talent; have the ability to make a difference, to walk in the streets with their head held high?

Nga Rangatahi Toa needs no further championing for the work it does, the evidence is in the fact that they have a 100% success rate in enabling youth to make positive transitions. But who is listening?

Last night Len Brown and numerous other MPs and councillors were present as well as whanau and friends. The decision makers are listening (let’s hope) but equally everyone on every step of the ladder needs to have access to these stories too. The cops, the wardens, the judges, the parole officers, the social workers – are they listening? The teachers, the principals, the education review officers – are they listening? The counsellors, psychiatrists, alternative education model makers – are they listening?

To review Manawa Ora: Stories from Our Streets requires more than a quick tick at the lights and sound (which are coincidentally excellent to the point we don’t even notice) and comment on set (great waka) and costume. It demands a conscious engagement that goes beyond a cerebral relationship with the work – these are stories from OUR streets.

These young people are performing themselves in creative and nuanced ways and they ask that we too, as audiences, step up and perform. Because when we get better at having the conversation, investing in these relationships and supporting young people, then will it be possible to see this work receive a standing ovation – not just on the stage but in the lives of these young people as they make their way in the world. 

This is a work that demands those on both sides of the stage take responsibility. If you haven’t already, go along and make sure you take someone with you. More people need to say YES, to supporting young people telling their stories; to taking the theatre of our lives from the streets to the stage; to holding hands and widening the circle. More people need to see work like this. More people need to say YES.


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