Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland

12/07/2019 - 13/07/2019

Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

19/07/2019 - 20/07/2019

Production Details

Matariki for Tamariki

Ngā Tamariki o Ngā Mata Ariki

by Sean MacDonald

A journey through stars, sea, mountains and moon, for the whole whānau.

The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) presents the premiere season of Matariki for Tamariki by accomplished New Zealand dancer and choreographer Sean MacDonald (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tahu), proudly a part of Auckland’s Matariki Festival and the Auckland Live Kids 2019 season.

A celebration for the whole family, Sean brings to life a world where a band of players, a group of friends, and a whānau travel throughout Aotearoa and its landscape of lush ngahere (forests), mighty maunga (mountains), and majestic moana (oceans), encountering the flora and fauna through seasonal changes. The journey begins and ends through the dawning and setting of the Matariki whetū (star) constellation.

Along the way, the performers inhabit the wairua (spirit) of each of the nine whetū of Matariki, and through their adventures use the power and meaning of karakia (prayer), ritual, waita (song) and whakapapa (lineage) to plant the seeds of new beginnings for hope for the future ahead. 

Sean’s majestic choreography, paired with evocative costume and set design by Rona Ngahuia Osborne, as well as spectacular sound design by Alistair Deverick, will leave kids and “kidaults” alike filled with joy and gratitude for the whenua (land) we call home. 

  • Children aged three and under sitting on a parent’s lap may be admitted free of charge. Lap tickets are required for entry, please obtain one per child under age three from the box office. All other children require seat tickets. 
  • Relaxed performance scheduled for 11am, Saturday 13 July.

Performance installation , Maori contemporary dance , Dance-theatre , Dance , Children’s ,

1 hour

Joyous, celebratory and sophisticated

Review by Carrie Rae Cunningham 14th Jul 2019

Veteran dancer and performer Sean MacDonald has created a joyous and celebratory new work Matariki for Tamariki (Ngā Tamariki o Ngā Mata Ariki) with The New Zealand Dance Company.  But don’t let the title fool you into thinking this is a ‘kids show.’  It’s certainly entertaining (and funny!), and it’s definitely been crafted with an eye for engaging the imagination of the littlies, but there is a level of sophistication in this work that has raised the standard of what we as parents, caregivers and whānau deserve to experience in live performance for our tamariki.

The foyer of the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna is buzzing with the energy of hundreds of tamariki (children).  They have taken over!  And they are ready to see this show.  I’ve brought my nine and 12 year-old tamāhine (daughters) along.  As long-serving theatre babies they have seen more than their fair share of shows – both aimed at kids and otherwise.

As with any and every NZDC performance I have ever seen, the calibre of dancing and performance is through the roof.  The company is heaving with some of the most talented dancers and designers in New Zealand, and the magic that is woven between all collaborators is truly impressive.  The opening ‘warm-up’ with the very charming and charismatic Carl Tolentino is a real treat for the kids in the audience.  He gets them (and the adults) ready for a journey to the stars and back through some very clever and funny physical theatre and clowning.

Young dancers who have participated in the NZDC Youth Winter School pepper the work, first as a swirling mass of universal creation then as fellow merrymakers alongside NZDC company members.  They move between depicting forces of nature, whetu (stars), kereru (wood pigeons), tuna (eels) and a whānau living under the twinkling magic of the Matariki star cluster with an equal mix of grace, delight, comedy and silliness (a must-have when your target audience is the littlies).  The movement sequences Sean has created and directed for the company work to convey how the natural world, the Earth and its inhabitants are affected by and interact with the presence of Matariki, just as much as they portray the wairua (spirit) of the nine Matariki stars in a more direct way.  In this sense, the show embodies the literal and the metaphorical quite nicely, offering many layers with which to engage.

The production elements come together beautifully throughout the show and compiement the gorgeous dancing and compelling narrative – the eyes of Tāwhirimātea (god of the winds) exploding into a burst of confetti that acts as a permanent scenic element is particularly eye-catching (see what I did there).  Designer Rona Ngahuia Osborne has done a stellar job of creating a magical world with just the right mixture of sculpture-inspired set pieces and seemingly rudimentary props pieces.  (We all loved the illuminated whetu tree.)

So what did the tamariki think?  The young audience were captivated (for the most part – I could see some of the younger children getting a bit restless about half-way through), as were the adults.  I wonder if the length of 55 minutes is just a tad too long?  That said, the response from the audience was warm and genuine, and throughout I could see so many youngsters in their seats mimicking the movements on stage.  A sure sign of a winner.

If you ever want to get an honest opinion of anything – ask a child. 

My 12 year-old’s review:  “It was very funny and the singing was good.  It was cool to see what each star means and to have a lesson about Matariki through movement.  I also liked how they worked the young dancers into the show.”

My 9 year-old’s review:  “It was crazy AND funny.  I liked how it was serious and calm and then would get loud and silly.  The props were cool and the magic tricks were funny.  Even though we could tell they weren’t real haha.  The old lady with the kumara made me laugh.”

(Nice one, Katie Rudd.)

Matariki for Tamariki has another season at Mangere Arts Centre 19 & 20 July.  Celebrate the new year by treating your whānau to this delightful, enchanting show.  You won’t be disappointed.


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