Māui and the Sun / Maui me te Ra

Various Canterbury Schools, Christchurch - Canterbury

03/08/2015 - 04/09/2015

The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

11/08/2015 - 11/08/2015

Production Details

Māori Language Week 2015 – Whāngaihia te reo Māori ki ngā Mātua’ 

Developing the language of parents to establish a firm basis for Māori language development in generations to come.

In a unique theatrical event for 2015, the Court Theatre is offering a new take on an iconic Māori legend, specially devised for Canterbury Schools.

Māui and the Sun supports the theme of ngā Mātua’ for Maori Language Week through developing guidance on the use of Māori language as an every-day part of life, increasing the awareness of the benefits of bilingualism, and awareness of how language transmission occurs.

Māui and the Sun is The Court Theatre’s new touring show, developed in celebration of the special place that te reo Māori has as part of the cultural landscape of New Zealand. It explores, challenges and affirms the unique artistic expression of self, community and culture that is pivotal to all children’s link to Māori culture.

Working alongside actor, musician and bi-lingual te reo speaker Rutene Spooner, Māui and the Sun has been created to help students develop key language, drama and arts competencies in order to become active, lifelong learners.

 “The Court Theatre is beyond excited in bringing this retelling of Maui’s journey to Canterbury audiences.  Rutene Spooner’s wonderful, fresh take on this classic Māori story will delight and engage all who see it,” says The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley.

About Maui and the Sun

Children will take a wild journey with Māui as he struggles to solve the problems of his village, meeting some new and interesting characters along the way, and help Māui solve the mystery of the racing sun.

The show includes live music, beautiful puppetry and storytelling to engage children with this traditional story in a new and exciting way.

Audiences also experience traditional Māori performance arts, including kapa haka, poi and mau rakau (traditional weaponry).

Students will deepen their knowledge and understanding of tikanga Māori (Māori protocol), toi whakaari (performing arts) and pakiwaitara / pūrākau (legends / myths) helping them to develop their own personal, group and national identities.

Key information: 

Tour Dates: 3rd August – 4 September 2015, Monday to Friday.


Relating to others; respect for other cultures

The importance and skills and around learning and teaching

Using language symbols and texts

Thinking; Exploration; Communicating; Contribution

Use of Māori vocabulary in the classroom and at home

Encouraging correct pronunciation of Māori names and words

Exploration of different world views in relation to their own

The inseparable links between language, cultural arts and identity

How to book : The tour is fully booked!

The Creative Team:

Director – Holly Chappell | Co-Creator – Rutene Spooner

Designer – Holly MacPherson | Stage Manager –Ashlyn Smith

Education Manager – Rachel Sears

The Cast:

Actor – Tainui Kuru | Actor – Kim Garrett | Actor – Susie Berry

Theatre , Children’s ,


Review by Lindsay Clark 11th Aug 2015

This little gem comes  to the Court Theatre under the umbrella of the Home School Network and has been developed for a tour of Canterbury schools, especially to celebrate Maori Language Week. In doing so, it also celebrates the potency of live theatre to tell and re-tell our stories for audiences of whatever age.

The audience is arranged traverse style in The Court foyer, with the actors working back and forth across the space, close to everyone and interacting at every opportunity, acknowledging the limited attention span of some little ones. That need not have been a concern here though, because the story pulls us along most entertainingly.

It is structured as a series of telling episodes in Maui’s quest to tame the mighty sun. The problem is set out very clearly. The sun is welcome and appreciated, but moves too fast across the sky for all the work of Maui’s people to be completed in a day. His resolve is strengthened by a karakia with his (puppet) kuia and his journey punctuated by song. It is enhanced by the puppet forms of kaka, fish and tuatara who help him to persevere, before the collaborative efforts of the audience to weave and cast many strong ropes of harakeke tame the great sun, (another puppet device manipulated by two actors).

Holly MacPherson is responsible for design in this production and creates a vision of great integrity. Props, costume and wonderful puppets all work to complete a story which could only be from Aotearoa.

A trio of lively and committed actors does the rest. Kim Garrett and Susie Barry are the tribe, the puppeteers and providers of astute encouragement for the audience. As Maui himself, in fine voice and with robust physical presence, Tainui Kura focusses the whole and has us duly captivated.

As a parting gift from this generous team, the theme song of the show is taught to us all. It is a simple one about recognising the warmth and power of the sun and being thankful for it. There is a gracious message in there and perhaps best of all Te Reo is part of it.


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