Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

02/03/2016 - 06/03/2016

Auckland Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

Marama will proudly present at Q Theatre as part of the Auckland Arts Festival from March 2-6. 

If the whole worlds’ history so far was condensed to one day,
human beings would appear at 11.58pm. 
In the last minute of that day we would have destroyed 78% of the worlds ancient forests.

Marama draws five actors from five parts of the Pacific, all highborn women of their indigenous culture and carriers of their cultural knowledge – in the Fijian Language MARAMA.

Building on the international acclaim of previous works Vula and Masi, Marama is a powerful call from women of the Pacific – the voices of a vanishing world. The devastating effects of deforestation on their homelands and culture are brought startlingly to life through waiata, chants, dances and rituals gracefully and magically performed.

A world-class creative team joins Director Nina Nawalowalo: award winning Italian Lighting Designer Fabiana Piccioli (long term collaborator with Choreographer Akram Khan), ComposerGareth Farr, Original Set designer Nicole Cosgrove, Remount Set Designer John Verryt and Costume Designer Seraphina Tausilia

One day, on a local bus, we stopped where there were no signs and a lady stepped off the bus, left the road and walked into the forest, swiftly disappearing into the trees. It struck me deeply that this was a powerful metaphor, that the edge of the forest was like this woman’s reality, a place where worlds meet, from which she steps into the world of others and returns into her own…that the forest conceals and protects, shelters, like her body, the inner life hidden from view. I began to see this in the Pacific women I met, that in response to the world of others, much has been taken into a deeper place where few know the pathways.
Nina Nawalowalo Artistic Director

Show times:

Wed, Fri, Sat: 8pm
Thu: 6.30pm
Sat: 2pm
Sun: 5pm 

Ticket price:
$39 – $59 (booking fees apply)


Produced by: Auckland Arts Festival and The Conch

– See more at:


The Conch

Theatre , Physical , Performance installation , Pasifika contemporary dance , Multi-discipline , Dance-theatre ,

1 hr 10 mins

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Review by Raewyn Whyte 08th Mar 2016

A small clearing in the primordial South Pacific rainforest is the setting for Marama, a very beautiful visual theatre work developed by The Conch under director Nina Nawalowalo as a call from women of the Pacific to put an end to wholescale deforestation.

The clearing represents the undisturbed rainforest of earlier eras, large pockets of which can still be found in the remotest parts of the Pacific today. This is a beautifully realistic place conjured by designers…

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In Praise of Shadows

Review by Nathan Joe 04th Mar 2016

In his famous essay on aesthetics, In Praise of Shadows, Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki questions the traditional Western ideal of preferring the beauty of light over darkness, stating that the former can’t exist without the latter: “The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows toward beauty’s ends.” These words seem highly appropriate to the heart and soul of Marama, a piece that dwells amongst the shadows, evoking a home that is the rooted in tradition but is threatened by the advent of modern civilisation.

At its most basic, Marama is an attempt to represent the destruction of our natural landscapes through deforestation. While it does this, the power of the piece goes beyond that. Led by artistic director Nina Nawalowalo, what the theatremakers of The Conch accomplish is creating a whole world before our eyes. Paying homage to its Pacific heritage without tokenising it. [More


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Beautiful. Intense. Striking. Necessary

Review by Camelle Pink 03rd Mar 2016

Q’s Rangatira hums with the warmth of a congenial audience.  Here in support of the opening of Marama, many appear to have Pacific heritage and everyone is excited at the prospect of this work, including myself.  Gentle harp-like chords pluck at the edges of our awareness as Gareth Farr’s composition unfolds, weaving through the hazy auditorium.

Visceral and tacit are two words that come straight to mind as the stage comes alive. We feel the power of the women as they give themselves over to the performance. We experience the power of Marama. Strong. Graceful. Mesmerising. We are carried trance-like through these women’s homelands, seeing a jungle that transforms to local bush as they journey through their lived experiences that are recorded through Marama. We all feel the political contention/tension behind the work, communicated  through the set and as an unwritten statement that the performers make.

Marama is a beautiful, beautiful creation of sound, light and movement, certainly a work for director Nina Nawalowalo and The Conch to be proud of. It is dark. Intense. Striking. Necessary. The dialogue between music and movement, props and performers moves us along a delicious  pathway, drawing us beyond the destruction of deforestation to offer a slither of hope for regrowth and nourishment. 

Caught in an ever-changing environment, the women fiercely wield their weapons with confidence and control –thankfully they maintain hold of them. We resonate with the fight they put up against the compounding noises of chainsaws and machinery cutting threatening their body-landscape. The waiata, chants, dances and rituals successfully evoke the deep connection between the woman’s body (tinana) and the ground papatuanuku.

We are drawn into this journey with the performers. Fascinated by the delicate storytelling of gesture and presence, I wish I was more familiar with the nuances of the exquisite movement language so that I could better understand these women’s personal journeys. There is a strong sense of interrelation within Marama. We come to recognise imagery that occurs in slightly different worlds, indicated by palms and ferns. There is only one point where the pace does not quite fit, when we are snapped to attention with a lighting change and thrown into the present, with one woman stumbling across the stage, one heel in hand looking confused, or distraught. Confronted by a cold, barren nothingness Marama asks us to contemplate the violence exacted on the land/whenua  and the people of the Pacific/tangata whenua.

The puppetry is impressive and seamless transitions allow us to sit back and appreciate the dynamic created by lights that cut through the well laid set and stage space. It reminds me of the clarity and cunning found within the design of Akram Khan’s works, and of course iTMOi, which Fabiana Piccioli also worked on.

The entire production team and cast are to be commended for generating an engaging work that is distinct in its offering of a sense of the wider Pacific region, and striking in its portrayal of experience. It needs to be at the top of everyone’s “to-buy-tickets-to show” list in 2016 as part of Auckland Arts Festival. 


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