Rotorua Little Theatre, 8 Amohau Street, Rotorua

06/04/2019 - 08/04/2019

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

21/11/2018 - 23/11/2018

Rotorua Fringe Festival 2019

Production Details

Rauru is a form of weaving pattern where three ropes are twined into one, typically a spiral pattern.  It is also the Māori word for umbilical cord, specifically the part connected to the mother.  

Written by Cian Gardner and Karina Nathan and directed by Kathleen Christian, Rauru explores concepts of family, identity and loss through the story of Ruby, Ata, and their ailing grandmother.

Preparing for a Tangi, family secrets are uncovered, and old wounds are opened as the women straddle dual cultures and battle ghosts from their past.  The family home welcomes some, and repels others. The relationship between the three Māori women is fraught, honest, loving and real.  None of them perfect, all very different, but all indelibly connected to each other.

Presented by Cove Theatre, Rauru is a story told with gentleness, humour and compassion about people you will recognise, maybe even within yourself.

Contains strong language and adult themes.

The Meteor Theatre (1 Victoria Street, Hamilton)
Wednesday, 21st November – Friday, 23rd November 2018
7.30pm shows 
Bookings at: http://themeteor.co.nz/event/rauru/ 

Cove Theatre is a newly formed company which is aimed at creating theatre which stages Māori and Pasifika stories onstage. Standing on the grounds of inclusion and authentic storytelling, our kaupapa is to create a sense of belonging for performers and audience members – where we empower stories that are not always told.

Roturua Fringe 2019 

Rotorua Little Theatre, 2-8 Amohau Street
Sat 6, Sun 7, Mon 8 April 2019

Kia Mau 2019
Home’s calling… well Nan is.
After a much loved first season in Hamilton and a sell-out opening for Rotorua Fringe, Cove Theatre is proud to welcome Wellington to Nan’s house. Prepare for some harsh language, and harsh truths, as Ruby, Ata and their ailing grandmother deal with the secrets you don’t spill at the kitchen table… just don’t forget your tangi clothes.
The jug is on… how do you have it?

BATS Theatre The Heyday Dome
14 – 15 June 2019
Full Price $20
Concession Price $15
Group 6+ $14

*Access to The Heyday Dome is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.


Cian Gardner
– Ruby and young Nan
Karina Nathan – Ata and Nan

James Smith
– Lightng & Sound Operator
Missy Mooney – Stage Manager
FOH – Benny Marama, Deborah Nudds and Friends of The Meteor 

Theatre ,

1 hr

Very real, beautifully honest and raw

Review by Fiona Collins 07th Apr 2019

The opening of Rotorua’s very first Fringe Festival is with a new piece of theatre called Rauru, written and performed by very talented emerging artists Cian Paige Gardner and Karina Nathan.

Rauru is a fresh wee gem that explores concepts of family, identity and loss through the story of Ruby, Ata and their ailing grandmother. What hits me immediately is the feeling of being ‘back home’ and in a space that houses secrets, ghosts and battles with the past that sometimes never heal – they just get dealt with.

Rauru is a form of weaving pattern where three ropes are twined into one, typically a spiral pattern, and it is also the Maori word for umbilical cord, specifically the part connected to the mother, so the opening bars of an Aotearoa classic beginning the play could have felt cliché, but it instead settles a smiling audience in nicely, as most start to sing or hum along, already being hit with waves of love or memories of our Mums. 

The rest of the soundtrack does the same thing without feeling like it’s all been done before, and that is because the story and the story-telling is so different and fresh – thanks to Gardner and Paige’s sharp and funny no-holds-barred delivery of the script.

In the quaint and very familiar setting of their crumbling whanau home, Gardner and Nathan play multiple characters as they prepare for a Tangi with all the complex intricacies that come with such an occasion. What really resonates with the audience is the familiarity that comes with each new character, because we all know ‘that’ sister, aunty, cousin, Nan!

There are key moments on stage where both actors are playing different characters in different ‘worlds’, but deliver exactly the same lines and responses with a rhythm and timing that will only get better and sharper with more experience.

One thing that is very clear from the get go: these two young ladies are FUNNY!  Their script is fabulously insightful and funny!

It is a real joy to watch an almost untouched piece of theatre sincerely deal with deep life issues, without becoming self-indulgent or heavy as they come and go between characters and storylines.

Nan is gorgeously grumpy and forgetful and loving.  Ata is beautiful, cutting, witty and hurt. Ruby is dutiful, tired and wonderfully youthful whilst being years beyond her age. Their journeys, their relationships and the love between them is very real, beautifully honest and raw. 

Technically the play needs a little more tweaking – perhaps in the blocking or set positioning so that the actors are more opened out to the audience when conversing over the kitchen table – but that will come with experience and a bit more of a play with lighting and sound.

In saying this, I absolutely can overlook these things with the knowledge that these two young newcomers have just come out of nowhere and put themselves out there – not to mention in a place where this style of theatre is not so prominent or produced.

Rauru has done the Rotorua Fringe Festival proud and congratulations to the organisers for taking a risk and giving these young emerging artists a platform and an opportunity to have a voice.

Cian Paige Gardner and Karina Nathan are definitely emerging artists to keep an eye on.  I wish them the very best with this show which should have quite a life!

Rauru is only playing for two more nights (Sunday & Monday) – if you’re in Rotorua, go see it!


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Fluid, seamless; a challenge to follow

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 22nd Nov 2018

It is a rainy old night in Hamilton as a good crowd draws in for the premiere of Rauru, a new work from Cove Theatre, for whom this is also their debut production.

From the programme notes, I learn that Cian Gardner and Karina Nathan are not only the stars of the show, with the unenviable task of playing a multitude of characters, but they are the writers of this piece. The notes go on to explain that Rauru is a form of weaving pattern where three ropes are twined into one, typically a spiral pattern. It is also the Māori word for umbilical cord; specifically the part connected to the mother. This is a story of family and connection.

As the lights go down we enter the world of Young Nan (Gardner) and husband Terry – who are the centre of the narrative – as they move into their new home. A housewarming, complete with a crate of big bottles and drunken swaying to Kiwi party favourites. It is a familiar scene for me, so I am transported straight there.

Through some tricky stage craft we are transported to the here and now, Nan (Nathan) is talking to her now deceased husband at the beginning of the preparation for his tangi.

Enter Ruby (Gardner), beleaguered new mother and her older, career junkie sister Ata (Nathan). Through a natural duologue, the pair explain their circumstances and backstories rather masterfully, and I find I am really enjoying the tricks of the pair’s stage work. 

Throughout the piece we flip flop back and forward in time. It is delightful watching Gardner and Nathan move in and out of characters, addressing the kinds of familiar sore points and arguments that many a family (mine included) goes through when someone dies.  

I have always said that death does make people weird; for me, Rauru explains my theory!

I am delighted to meet cheeky Dee (Gardner), and watch her one scene with Ata. How people of the same skin can grow so distant. I feel a tear. These are familiar themes, but the story is not jaded by that. In fact, as I read in the programme notes Cove Theatre’s kaupapa is to create a sense of belonging for performers and audience members, empowering stories that are not always told. I can’t say that this story has not been told, but it is new in the telling. And I like that.

There are a number of characters we never meet physically: Terry – Koro of Ruby and Ata, Hine, the estranged mother of Ruby and Ata and Constable Jim. Karina Nathan and Cian Gardner give these characters life through their gifts as actors. Indeed throughout, the pair do a fine job.

The story is a lot of things for me. It is very funny, there are plenty of laughs and also very sad. Themes of love and loss, aspiration and desperation get me at my gut and I feel so drawn to my own parallel experiences. My partner for the night gets a little lost in the quick character changes, says he just doesn’t get it and I can understand how that is the case for him – there is a lot that goes on in a short (60 minute) timeframe, and I suggest that perhaps if the story doesn’t ring a bell for you, then feeling lost is likely.

The script is good, but I feel there is a bigger story here, which is currently being crammed into an hour. Perhaps with some careful dramaturgy the story will translate from page to stage with greater ease. Certainly I think the greater benefit of such will be breathing space to further develop the latent gems of dramatic opportunity hidden deep in the script.

Here we have two exceptional actors filling up the stage: they move fluidly and seamlessly, they hit all of their cues, they own every word. Director Kathleen Christian has done a fine job to round these two actors up into their own work, keeping both Nathan and Gardner disciplined and focussed in their delivery – no small feat! Lighting and sound by James Smith is well done, the soundscape is high quality.

Rauru is theatre played well, and with high production values for which I congratulate the team. I look forward to more from Cove Theatre. 


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