BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

10/05/2022 - 14/05/2022

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

06/06/2023 - 10/06/2023

Online, Global

29/07/2023 - 12/08/2023

Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

07/10/2023 - 07/10/2023

Reimagine Festival / Taranaki Arts Festival 2023

Production Details

Writer/Director/Performer: Sherilee Kahui
Kaumatua: Gay Puketapu-Andrews
Producer: H-J Kilkelly

How do you heal from intergenerational trauma as the result of a genocide that people refuse to acknowledge? Asking for a friend…


Moko is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She feels that a stronger grounding in her identity will help her heal from personal trauma, but the more she learns, the more she finds there’s so much work to do. Join Moko on her quest to discover the truth of her origin story, and help her to stay on the path to becoming the wāhine toa she was born to be.

With a Māori led team, presented in partnership with BATS Theatre as their final Co-Production under CNZ’s Adaptation fund 2021, our rōpū hopes you’ll join us to tautoko this insightful mahi.

“I want wāhine Māori to come and feel seen, heard and empowered. This show is for us. I want tāne Māori to listen and enjoy the lols but also take away that they need to have our backs. I want our Pākehā and Tauiwi mates to come and listen and strengthen their ally-ship. Regardless of who they are or where they are coming from, I hope people find moments that resonate and perhaps start to feel like there is a way forward past personal and communal trauma.” – Sherilee Kahui

BATS Theatre, The Stage
10 – 14 May 2022
FULL:  $25
GROUP 6+:  $22

Kia Mau Festival 2023

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Te Aro, Wellington
06-10 June 2023
Tues-Sat 7.30pm
Adult $30 | Concession $25 | Friend of Circa $22
Group 6+ $25 | Group 20+ $20
Student $20 | Student Standby $15
Earlybird Adult $25 | Earlybird Concession $20
Book Here

Mokomoko: 8pm Saturday 29th July – 8pm Saturday 12th August 2023

Taranaki Arts Festival 2023
Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace
Sat 7 Oct, 7:30 PM

Actor: Mycah Keall
Script Advisor: Danielle Gardiner
Taonga Pūoro: Thomas Carroll
Stage Manager: Parekawa Finlay
Lighting Design and Op / Production Design Mentor: Hāmi Hawkins
AV Actor: Hannah Clarke
Costumier: Molly Friis
Marketing and Publicity: Stevie Greeks
Production Design: Molly Friis
Poster Artist: Xoë Hall
Photography: Jamie Kahui

Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr

Beautifully disturbing, a wero laid down, a journey of self discovery

Review by Elicia Hitchcock 08th Oct 2023

Ko wai au? Ko wai Koe?

Whatever I thought this show was going to entail, I am left challenged and beautifully disturbed by the reality of being Wāhine Māori and the intergenerational trauma that has been passed down from when our tangata whenua were colonised.

Sherilee Kahui, the Creator of Mokomoko alongside performer Mycah Keall who plays Mokomoko (Skink), deliver a beautiful taonga of multi-media theatre. Kahui and Keall both whakapapa to Taranaki, so it is an absolute pleasure to be a part of the audience of many Taranaki iwi. Despite my limited personal knowledge of Te Ao Māori, in which I belong, and not feeling quite at home in my skin, I allow myself to become fully immersed in the journey that Moko (Kyell) takes us on after feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I feet like I am in a classroom again as a young kōtiro, especially when the overhead projector is rolled to stage centre, the warm sepia tone lights up the projector screen and the use of shadow puppetry draws me in. I can feel the anticipation from the audience, some wondering what the show is actually about, once the stage cleared and our friend Mokomoko is introduced to us all. Is she a Gecko or a Skink. Lizards have been around for millions of years, so she should know who she is and where she fits … right?

We are taken on a journey of self-discovery, breaking down generational walls of trauma that have been enforced upon and spoken into the lives of many Wāhine Māori. This is raw, this is dark. As words and phrases are projected onto the screen, I can feel the anger, the oppression that has been placed against who I myself am as not only a wāhine, but a wāhine with mana. The words projected, I have heard many times about myself, about the women in my whānau. I have even said some of those ugly words and phrases myself. These are words I became accustomed to in my younger years. Each chapter, I feel my heart soften for Moko. This performance has me challenging myself: Ko wai au?

Kahui has done fantastic mahi in creating this piece. The script and the use of Mokomoko is so clever, and great symbolism throughout this performance on working through, and learning who Wāhine Māori truly are. We are not dirty, we are not property, we are not a culture to appropriate, we are not to be looked over. Mana Māori, Mana Wāhine.

Keall’s physical performance is to be commended. From the beginning to the applause, her charisma and energy would be hard to match. It may have taken the audience a moment to warm to her, only due to the possible uncertainty of where this journey is to head, but as she draws from such NZ classics as gingernuts and a familiar yellow towel, you feel the switch in the audience and the encouragement from Kealls’ character to interact, realising that the story being told is in safe hands.

Sometimes creators can be tempted to overuse AV in live performance art, which can overshadow what is happening on the stage. This is not the case in Mokomoko. The AV experience only enhances the performance. There is a moment that the Creator (Kahui) and Performer (Keall) stand static on the stage, while the perfect use of AV provides a deeper connection between the creator, performer and audience. I feel a stirring inside, there is a wero happening within my wairua. I feel uncomfortable in my skin, I feel exposed, I feel angry at the oppression that our Wahine Māori felt, especially in the few generations before me; I have still held a lot of that trauma.

Mokomoko is a beautiful piece of theatre that needs to be seen, not only by Wāhine Māori but by all, to gain another perspective and an understanding of what Wāhine Māori have come up against.

Tihei mauri ora!


Make a comment

Perhaps it needs a rejuggle to make sense of the struggle

Review by Nitika Erueti-Satish 12th Aug 2023

The ancient karakia to Tāne that opens this online show intrigues and excites me to see how this show unfolds. Reading the karakia triggers visions of stories and themes relating to the ngahere and I start to reflect on the name of this show, Mokomoko, which translates to and is commonly known as lizard/skink/gecko. I begin to wonder what exciting adventures this little mokomoko will go on and what journey I will get to participate in by simply being in the room.

The show opens with a story of Hinauri; a pretty dark introduction. Hinauri is sick and is unable to figure out why, so she seeks guidance from a Tohunga only to find out she is hapū, pregnant. I am a sucker for a dramatic beginning to a show. I hope to see her story unfold as we move on to the introduction of Mokomoko, the prominent character of this piece. 

I struggle at first to see the link between the two. Is Mokomoko the remnants of Hinauri’s story? As the show continues we are introduced to a range of scenes describing the events of colonisation and how these historical events have affected uri Māori. These scenes represent the transmission of racial inequities through intergenerational trauma. 

The last 15 minutes of the show is where we receive an explanation of the show. It gives ‘slam poetry’ meets NZ History lecture vibes in its delivery. It is very confronting, which I also feel is the goal. Wāhine Māori and our tīpuna suffrage is pushed right in front of us and you feel the courage it takes to maintain the transparency when telling the audience these historical facts that are constantly overlooked.

After watching Mokomoko a big question I have is “who is this for?” – and I ask this because as a wahine Māori, I feel unsatisfied. I wonder what this show would look and feel like if there were elements of resolution and evolution that represented social progress. Although this is a personal reflection, I wonder if colourism* was explored by the creators. All the pieces of the puzzle are there and perhaps it needs a rejuggle to make sense of the struggle.

I admire the performers – Mycah Keall and Sherilee Kahui (also writer and director) – and acknowledge how therapeutic this show is in bringing light to truths that had been covered for many years. I also admire two wāhine who are courageous to speak their truths and lay all their feelings out on the stage. Very brave and I look forward to seeing this show evolve.

*(The darker skinned brown eyed Māori folk are treated worse compared to the lighter skinned Māori. Another example of this is how we use our Pākehā names to get our foot in the door for job interviews.)


Make a comment

What a treasure to see this work

Review by Waitahi Aniwaniwa McGee 07th Jun 2023

“What do you call it when people are killed, raped and/or imprisoned so that their resources can be stolen and then for generations to come they are systematically oppressed on the basis of their ethnicity, resulting in the erosion of their culture, values and social structure?”

I’d call that genocide but maybe that’s just me.

Mokomoko nā Sherilee Kahui, performed by Mycah Keall (spoilers) and Sherilee Kahui.

Mokomoko takes its time, Kahui understands the relationship between audience and stage is a cherished one, especially when speaking to topics like genocide. However this piece is no passive watch, Kahui’s direction pulls you in, dares you to speak. Keall’s performance draws you near with such detail that if you blink… you’ll miss it.

We begin in colourful, lavish ngāhere, images of iwi back in the rā fishing, playing, sailing. We take our seats and my gaze settles on text which, to my knowledge, is a Taranaki whakatauki born in a time that acknowledges their history of constant vigilance and war: “E kore e pau, he ika unahi nui – It will not be consumed, for it is a fish covered in large scales.” With such a wero starting off in just the preshow state, I can already tell we’re in for a RIDE.

We begin in darkness as a charming SM (Kahui) wheels out an overhead projector. I am perplexed?! We already seen your fullas’ other flash projection in preshow, we need another one now? In actual fact … we do.

Kahui pulls out delicately designed figures and props (Molly Friis, Production Designer) under such warm light that we have no choice but to melt into the kōrero that helps set up the scene. Now my current fluency in reo means I miss the kōrero at first but the culmination of Friis’ design, Kahui’s projection and Keall’s oro allows me to enter into the piece with key understandings of the ngako (essence) of where we’re beginning.

I leave the theatre with a tear stained face, paua clasped close to my manawa and a bubbling gut. Mokomoko’s way of commanding the audience’s attention has allowed me to remain open to the wero she spoke to… about violence against wahine, about violence towards indigenous peoples, about genocide in this modern day, in a country filled with so much racism.

If you’re thinking, “Kare gewl, but what actually HAPPENED?!” Well then… I guess you’ll have to buy a ticket and see, now won’t you. 😉

Massive mihi to the Mokomoko teamo, what a treasure to see this work.


Make a comment

Entrancing journey wonderfully presented and performed

Review by Grace Ahipene Hoet 12th May 2022

Intergenerational Trauma is a term that many indigenous cultures recognise; we live and breathe the repercussions of colonisation.

Many Māori have or are going through a decolonisation process through which Māori are able to reconnect with their identity and have greater control of Māori Development, otherwise known to us as Mana Motuhake: self-determination, independence, sovereignty, authority – Mana through self-determination and control over one’s own destiny.

The Māori name for lizards varies around the country and it includes ngārara, karara, tuatara and mokomoko.

Mokomoko are valued as a source of mauri of life that sustains the people and the land. They are respected because of their ancient whakapapa and ecological relationships with the environment and people. They are considered tuakana, and Te Atiawa have a special relationship with them.

Mokomoko are important and significant to Māori, they are steeped in cultural and spiritual importance, within Taranaki the are considered Kaitiaki of the underworld. They are important tohu that are considered tapu. They indicate a need for caution, or convey messages of warning. They are wairua kaitiaki of the people, the water and the land.

MOKOMOKO opens with an superb display of Shadow Puppetry performance, depicting the story of Hinauri, Maui’s sister, when in grief she tried to commit, whakamomori (suicide) by jumping from the cliff into the sea. She survives to be washed up on the beach.

Mokomoko awakens and progresses her audience through a life journey of self-discovery: am I gecko am I skink. Moko feels a solid grounding in her self-identity will help her heal from the personal trauma. The more she learns, the more she finds there’s lots of work to do. She journeys on her quest to discover her whakapapa.

This is a good beginning for a story and a play that has room to grow. Not quite the controversy I expected, but I feel this is the beginning of a work in progress of a journey that needs further exploration. 

From and older wāhine Maori perspective I feel remotely removed from the Mokomoko story.

However, each person’s perspective is most important, and I enjoy and find it a highly intriguing perspective. Considering Mokomoko came from the eyes and heart of a younger generational wāhine Māori, it really opens my eyes to the world my mokopuna are growing up in, and how we must fight the fight of the Kuia, and ground our whanau in their whakapapa, whenua, te reo me ona tikanga.

The empowerment of Māori comes from knowing who you are, knowing your whakapapa and where you belong and come from. Finding strength in your turangawaewae. The first question Māori always ask another Māori is “No hea koe?” Where are you from? Not “Ko wai koe?” Who are you?

Knowing our place, our whenua, gives us our grounding. Hence our pepeha always starts with our Maunga and our Awa.

When one is steeped and learned in their whakapapa, pepeha and tikanga it naturally gives one a grounding and belonging. For too long the sale, pillage and confiscation of our lands left us disenfranchised, homeless, poverty ridden and culturally deprived. Take a person’s land, home, the means to grow kai, and then confiscate medicines and right to communicate by stripping them of their language, you deprive them of the fundamental right to live. You take their basic human rights to freedom and the right to protect themselves from unlawful discrimination.

With a Māori led team, Mokomoko is able to share her journey in glimpses of theatrical moments through the use of Audio Visual, solidly written monologues, and entrancing dance movements. The shedding of her tail and skin is wonderfully performed by Mycah Keall whose comedic timing and movement makes for a believable Mokomoko.

The Matatini celebration waiata, pre-show and during the show, is a delight to listen too.

Sherilee Kahui has a strong future in theatre and the more she explores her insight from a 2022 wāhine Māori perspective the more developed her work will become, keep writing, keep exploring.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo