New Treaty Militia

The Long Hall, Roseneath, Wellington

09/11/2011 - 09/11/2011

iiii Festival

Production Details

Award winning performance artist Cat Ruka is soon to present her latest work NEW TREATY MILITIA, a theatrical protest that radically explores the contentious document of the Treaty of Waitangi. It investigates how this document relates to the way in which identity is constructed – and perhaps obsessed over – in New Zealand, and poses the idea that it preoccupies Maori and Pakeha with an abstract game of power transferral. NEW TREATY MILITIA is a surreal and decadent performance critique that strives to demonstrate the realities of how the Treaty manifests in all its horrifyingly dark and profoundly creative ways.

NEW TREATY MILITIA is a duet between Cat and New Zealand born dancer and performance artist Josh Rutter. Josh is currently in Europe and has been working on Stephen Bain’s latest work When Animals Dream of Sheep on the island of Terschelling in the Netherlands. Over the past two years Cat and Josh have established a strong collaborative practice in various avenues of performance, encouraging them to approach choreography in a number of different ways.

The show will premiere at the Hebbel am Ufer performace centre in Berlin, Germany. It will be developed and presented there as part of the Matchpoint Choreographer Meeting, a 7 day event curated by Jochen Roller and Anna Wagner. Cat has been invited to participate in this event along with 9 other emerging artists from around the world, including the critically acclaimed and highly successful European choreographer Matan Zamir. Also attending Matchpoint as an artisitc mentor is New Zealand-based artist and curator Shigeyuki Kihara.

NEW TREATY MILITIA will the be presented at Boutique Studios in Brooklyn, New York. Boutique Studios is located right in the heart of Bushwick, an area that is fast becoming one of New York’s most interesting hubs for underground artists. It is a multi-purpose studio run by Kristin Mirabelle and John Kazar who are both interdisciplinary artists with a strong investment in the community of Bushwick. Cat is interested in establishing and maintaining an artistic connection to New York after presenting her solo work Playing Savage there last year to a full house.

The show will then return home to be presented as a series of events for and on behalf of a range of communities in New Zealand.






Performrs: Cat Ruka, Josh Rutter

50 mins

Tacit negotiation enjoined by audience

Review by Lyne Pringle 10th Nov 2011

6 pm Thursday night, the Long Hall on Roseneath point is shabby, loved and full of people who improvise – a lot. There is kai cooking for the punters to eat after the show and before they face the music and ritual ukulele burning – just another typical night in this neck of the woods.

New Treaty Militia by Cat Ruka and Josh Rutter has many similarities to this venue. The hall is loose and falling down – the gales of last week blew off part of the roof – the guardian of the place, Jennifer Shennan, is struggling with the resulting leaks and a wayward builder. Everyone has their struggles in Aotearoa.  Cat Ruka is the only Maori present by my reckoning – this must give the entertainers a different feel than … say Otara. 

Militia – a military force composed of ordinary citizens. Defense activity or service, to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws. The entire able-bodied population of a community, town, county, or state available to be called to arms. Tonight this raggle taggle army find their way through the rain to watch listen and feel.

The inquiry is refreshing – the irreverence and nonchalance, but therein lies the danger as well and the possibility of leaks from a gale of complacency.

Her Shaman eyes map, cajole, measure and play but hey maybe tonight the “Cats away”.

She is gorgeous, we love to watch her.  Josh is pleasing on the eye too and there is a new intensity and strength in his performance.

Layers are placed and peeled away on the shaky foundation of chance sounds.  Envelopes of possibility lead us on a meandering pathway – even though we are watching carefully,  this “show” is as hard to find as the creaky hall down flax strewn paths on a lonely point overlooking the harbour.

A banished banshee wahine wails a karanga in English to a jet full of Manuhiri who zip 300 years into the future and become Tangata Whenua when at last the boundary between is long forgotten, and the Treaty of Waitangi is stitched into everybody’s blood – regardless of which translation.

We dance along this dynamic line, this tacit negotiation, these issues as weighted as a giant poi swirling around the head of Maori princess to the distorted soundtrack of the actual reality she will inevitably find – dangerous powerful creature, full of possibility.

Don’t step back from responsibility – you are paid too well for that despite having your door takings stolen at the last gig. It’s nice when you are fleetingly earnest, just a whisper – the old witches need this.

Yelling ‘Treaty’ – clever very clever.  Cunning! A sly device to get the punters to take responsibility and to co-create the work; a nice reference to the daily negotiation going on in schools, hospitals, riverbanks, courtrooms, front yards, face book pages, fence lines and websites. That beer is very tempting but I admit I am suspicious of your motivations and not willing to sign anything.

The ‘show’ kind of splutters and fizzles…. and um it feels like the end. They open up the floor to discussion.  I ask, because I can in this particular setting.

“What would you write if you were reviewing this show”.

“This show is about acknowledging the lived experience of what it might be to be a New Zealander, rewriting the phenomenological and mundane experience of being Maori – this sense of identity. And what a document might say, the Treaty being a power structure that you might live by. It’s a binary document, a subjective experience.”

Lawyer from the audience
“The Treaty was every innovative in its time, the 1840’s. It was revolutionary, the concept of forming a treaty with the indigenous people of a country. The original Treaty is kept under dim lights – it is a long narrow document like the 3 islands of this nation.”

“Do you think we should have empathy with the difficulties of the translation?”

“Translations are the absolute devil. It has to come back to the intention of the treaty;
the intention of the parties who signed it.”

C’mon let’s eat ….and ponder how come Cat gets “more dosh than Josh because she’s Maori” ? (Her words)


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