Rangi and Mau’s Amazing Race

Air New Zealand Foyer, Aotea Centre, Auckland

17/07/2010 - 17/07/2010

Production Details

Pacific Underground brings Matariki play to Auckland.  

Christchurch based performing arts collective Pacific Underground brings their newest play, Rangi and Mau’s Amazing Race, co-devised by Tanya Muagututi’a, Joy Vaele and Ave Sua, to Auckland’s The Edge as part of the ‘Pick & Mix’ programme on Saturday 17 July at 11am.

The humorous and educational play tells the story of a two teenagers – one Samoan and one Maori – who need to complete their Matariki homework assignment. With the assistance of a magic genie that sets down some challenges they embark on an Amazing Race where they explore significant historical events in New Zealand, and discover the similarities in each others cultures.

Pacific Underground was established in 1993, and presented ground breaking theatre with it’s first ever tour to Auckland in 1994 at the Herald Theatre with the play “Fresh Off The Boat” by Simon Small and Oscar Kightley. Pacific Underground returned annually with a national schools tour or a main bill theatre show until in 2004 took a break from theatre shows and moved more into delivering music shows, and events based in Christchurch.

“It’s good to come back to the The Edge with this show. We’re really proud of it, and presenting it in this venue especially is a good way to acknowledge our own journey. We’ve been here twice with Fresh of the Boat and Oscar’s play Dawn Raids in 1998.” says producer Tanya Muagututi’a.

The return of Pacific Underground to the Edge comes at a time when Matariki is increasingly and more widely celebrated around New Zealand. Rangi and Mau’s Amazing Race was part of a mini tour to Dunedin, Christchurch and Palmerston North as part of the Matariki celebrations in each centre was performed in Marae and to schools in the regions, receiving excellent reviews and feedback.

Dominion Post’s Karlo Mila describes it so. “I laughed so much that my four-year old felt the need to cover my mouth with his hands … Watching it felt like a bicultural coming of age. It was a Samoan and Maori celebration oozing inclusivity where people of diverse ethnic backgrounds could galvanise around something incredibly special about the indigenous people of this place.”   

Pick & Mix at The Edge
Pacific Underground
Saturday 17 July 2010, 11.00am
Air New Zealand Foyer, Aotea Centre

Rangi and Mau’s bickering over their unfinished Matariki assignments draws in a magic genie who sets down some challenges, and takes them back in time.

Their ‘amazing race’ over thousands of kilometres and 60 years, is an extraordinary and hilarious journey of self-discovery, cross-indigenous adventures and an encounter with the Seven Sisters.

Scripted and devised by Pacific Underground – Tanya Muagututi’a, Joy Vaele and Avefua Sua.

Starring Joy Vaele (Angels, Where we Once Belonged), Avefua Sua (Angels), Flo Lafai and introducing Raniera Dallas (Tahu FM). 
EXPERIENCE IT Performance 11am
DO IT Workshop 12 noon

Meeting the Matariki challenge with tongue in cheek hyperbole

Review by Venus Stephens 18th Jul 2010

I gauge my receptivity of a performance for kids by how much I laugh – and the children laugh – during the show. If I get into snorting territory, well, the measure is self-explanatory.  

Rangi and Mau’s Amazing Race has me from the get go; I find myself snort laughing throughout. Co-devised by Producer Tanya Muagututi’a and cast members Joy Vaele and Avefua Sua, the storyline is simply modelled to mimic the TV Show, The Amazing Race

This copy has teenage characters Rangi, of Maori descent, and Mau, who is Samoan, set to task by a Genie, who they conjure up whilst searching in the school library to find information for a Matariki homework assignment. The duo search at pace for challenge cards, which lie in wait in different eras and different locations around the North and South Islands. 

Correctly completed challenges earn a star, each star symbolises one of the Pleiades constellation, also known as the Seven Sisters, or in Maoridom, as Matariki. The ultimate goal is to collect all seven stars, so the Genie may grant them the information required to complete their Matariki homework. Utilising a clue card format, weaving education, music and engaging choreography, this certainly beats Saturday morning TV, much to the delight of the youngsters in the audience.

Their formula of short, snappy dialogue, musical interludes, dandy costumes and dandier characters deliver the Matariki message via tongue in cheek hyperbole, claiming the kids’ attention whilst craftily slipping in precious facts of Maori lore and playing up the importance of intercultural understanding.

Today’s ‘Star of the Day’ will have to be quartered in honour of this deft crew of four. As with most performances I review, I find I am drawn to characters that are resolutely confident. The gloriously sparkly Genie character, played by Flo Lafai, is a laugh out loud vision in star flecked gossamer. Raniera Dallas is versatile as a jogger character (I missed his name) and Kahu, a coy gentleman who tutors the young charges through their time warp race. Rangi is energetically mastered by Joy Vaele. Mau is ‘sensitively’ brought to life with great success by Avefua Sua.

My snort laughs get embarrassingly loud as Kahu drops his cheesy one-liners on the bewitching and all too eager Genie, the chemistry of their wonderful dialogue is bad on so many levels; contradictorily speaking, it is this mix of humour that makes the viewing so good. Plenty of laughs are provoked when the young adventurers stumble through the finer nuances of Maori culture.

Mau’s misunderstanding of hongi (a formal Maori greeting performed by pressing noses) is respectively funny and kindly shown. Rangi’s steadfast nature is representative of Mana Wahine, a timely reminder to those of us of Maori descent, detached from our culture, to step up and start representing ourselves in a way that befits our heritage.

One of the many upsides of theatre reviewing is the ongoing chance to learn. Mau and Rangi’s Amazing Race has pulled me a little closer to the understanding and respect Matariki, Maoritanga and Pasifika cultures duly deserve.

My only lament is my children weren’t along to see the performance, a mistake I will not be making next time Pacific Underground are in town. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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