Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Marae, Cable Street, Wellington

25/03/2017 - 25/03/2017

Capital E, 4 Queens Wharf, Wellington

17/07/2017 - 22/07/2017

Capital E National Arts Festival

Production Details

Playwright and Mori Side Steps creator presents new show for children

Multi-talented and award-winning playwright, director, producer, actor and musician Jamie McCaskill presents a brand new show for children premiering at Capital E National Arts Festival 2017.

Mata and the Mysterious Musical Maunga is written by Jamie McCaskill and Craig Geenty, taking audiences on an Aotearoa musical adventure with 10-year-old Mata. Mata loses his iPad and must learn to play real instruments and write the greatest waiata that there has ever been in order to get to the summit of the mysterious maunga and find the ancient kōuau. Mata faces an array of challenges along the way, as well as meeting an eclectic cast of characters. This musical journey comments on the value of true hard work in an age of instant gratification. 

Jamie has previously worked on two plays for children – he wrote Manawa, which was nominated for the New Zealand Play of the Year at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, and directed Hinepau, a story of redemption and celebrating diversity based on the story by Gavin Bishop, which has been toured extensively by Capital E. 

Festival producer Melanie Hamilton says “it’s exciting to have a performer and writer of Jamie’s calibre premiering a new show in our National Arts Festival. Mata and the Mysterious Musical Maunga is an epic musical journey that will charm and inspire audiences with Jamie’s signature style and joyous waiata.”

Jamie says the title character in this new show is inspired by the diligent “older brother character” in iconic 1980s and 1990s films such as The Goonies and Peter Pan. 

“I hope that I’ve created a character in Mata who young audiences can look up to and emulate. I’ve done something a bit different and used music as my main platform for storytelling in this play, and I hope children can relate to the story I’m sharing with them through waiata.”

The world premiere
Te Marae at Te Papa
Saturday 25 March, 2017
This show is free, and recommended for ages 7+

To find out more or to book tickets to Mata and the Mysterious Musical Maunga, visit   

Join us on a musical adventure as 10 year old Mata journeys to a mysterious maunga to see an ancient kōauau. Being guided by nga manu and waiata, Mata faces dangerous challenges and encounters quirky and charming characters.

When: Monday 17 July – Saturday 22 July
Where: Capital E, 4 Queens Wharf, Wellington  
Time:  10am-10.55am
Price: $8 early bird (book before 30 June); $10 general admission
Age range: 7+

Theatre , Musical , Family , Children’s ,

45 mins

Richly rewarding

Review by John Smythe 17th Jul 2017

I am reliably informed it was owning loop pedals that were not being used that provoked Jamie McCaskill to conspire with Craig Geenty to create Mata & the Mysterious Musical Maunga. We can only wonder whether this marvellous entertainment for the 7-plus age group would ever have existed if it hadn’t been for that. 

A small stage full of instruments – two electric guitars (one being bass), a ukulele, conga drum, kōauau (small flute), tambourine, egg shakers – suggests a whole band is about the step up. But Jamie is the only one hanging out with us as we settle into the intimate Capital E space.

As we wait for the last of the audience to arrive – braving yet another cold and wet day and presumably avoiding the punitive parking charges below Queen’s Wharf (which is probably full anyway) – Jamie chats amiably to the young ones and their older companions, about how far they have come, whether they play musical instruments, what his instruments are called … He doesn’t mention the loop pedals at the foot of the mic-stand but he does tell us ‘ukulele’ is the Hawaiian word for ‘jumping flea’.*

Greetings in an impressive range of languages kick off the play proper: the story of a 10 year-old boy called Mata who wants to be famous “like Lorde” so puts a home-made song up in his YouTube channel and becomes obsessed with how many ‘Likes’ and Fan comments he gets. But a troll called ‘Tek U Down’ heaps negativity on him – then his Dad takes his Tablet away.  

What follows are Mata’s nocturnal encounters with a range of exotic musicians, and one indigenous kaumātua, who reignite his interest in his musical instruments and extend his proficiency at playing them. Without fanfare the loop pedals are used to lay down music tracks then vocals, by the visitors then Mata, who steps up to significant challenges on the way.

These sequences vie with Mata’s ongoing fantasies of fame and fortune. We in the audience get to participate in simple but fun ways. The titular maunga (mountain) transforms from egotistical dream through impossible goal to be revealed as fundamental to his whakapapa and therefore his being.

This is not a play that plays down to its audience. It’s rich with unusual characters and hip language that kids will either know or learn. By touching on loneliness, bullying and self-doubt it acknowledges inner feelings they have no doubt experienced but may never have recognised let alone talked about.

Mata & the Mysterious Musical Maunga culminates in Mata finding a much more rewarding solution to feeling lonely and insignificant – and the loop pedals, along with audience volunteers, are of course instrumental in building the festive celebration that ends the show.  

My only question is whether the story Jamie narrates would be more dynamic and immediate if he told it in the present tense. Nevertheless it’s a richly rewarding 50 minutes of strong storytelling enriched with music that offers plenty to ponder privately or in conversation in its aftermath.
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*Wikipedia offers this alternative: “According to Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, the name means ‘the gift that came here’ [from Portugal], from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).” Take your pick.


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Relevant, funny, musical, speaks to the soul, inspiring

Review by Zoe Joblin 26th Mar 2017

Mata and the Mysterious Maunga is a testament to writer and performer Jamie McCaskill’s love of music. The 45 minute show premieres at Te Papa this week as part of the Capital E National Children’s Theatre Festival. To the back-drop of brightly coloured Atua in Te Marae, McCaskill invites the younger members of the audience to sit on the whāriki in front of the stage and turn their attention to the story of Mata.  

This show is old fashioned story-telling with a modern twist. Mata is a cool guy of 14 who is determined to become YouTube-famous for his music like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. His instrument of choice is his iPad and he is distraught when his Dad confiscates it one night, beginning a surprising journey of creativity, spirituality and whakapapa, all within his own bedroom.  

McCaskill energetically embodies all the distinctive characters that Mata encounters along the way, inviting the audience to imagine a world beyond the obvious (an underused skill in the age of the iPad). From a reggae legend with a love of the Conga drum to Mata’s ancestor who holds the secret of the ancient kōauau flute and his pepeha, everyone Mata meets has a lesson and an instrument to teach him. Through these ghosts of music past, Mata discovers a true love of song-writing. 

McCaskill is narrator, actor and musician and creates a solid, engaging narrative and an enjoyable listening experience for young and old alike. Although the show is aimed at 7-14 year olds, my companions (three adults, a seven year old and a three year old) and I are not alone in being outside the intended demographic. Despite not getting what a 14 year old might from the experience, we still take a lot from the show and are talking about it for the rest of the afternoon.

My seven year old companion’s best comment is, “That guy is crazy!” before slinking closer to the stage. He’s right, it is pretty crazy for a kid of any age to see an adult being silly and making mistakes onstage. Though Mata has a big story to tell which may be painfully relevant for a pre-teen audience, the show is funny, musical, speaks to the soul and is inspiring at any age.

I hope this show gets the chance to play to a whole bunch of different audiences and inspire some young music makers.

Mata and the Mysterious Maunga was a one off public performance for the Capital E National Arts Festival.


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