Centrepoint, Palmerston North

07/09/2013 - 05/10/2013

Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

28/10/2013 - 30/10/2013

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

Production Details

Centrepoint Theatre is proud to present the world premiere of Rewena, a new play by Whiti Hereaka. 

Feed your belly, feed your heart. 

It’s the night of the highly anticipated final of a popular TV cooking show, and one of the finalists is a local boy!  But a small bunch of loyal devotees have skipped watching the finale in favour of attending their regular cooking class. Run by Maggie, hard-case with a soft-heart, tonight’s lesson is how to bake rewena – also known as Maori bread. The recipe comes with a history of its own … it’s just not the lesson anyone expects.  

This idea is the essence of the play, according to writer Whiti Hereaka: “I chose to write about rewena because (as it says in the play) it knows where it comes from; it has a history and a whakapapa.” 

Whiti Hereaka is an award-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter. She is also a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. In 2012 she was awarded the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. This award is one of the most prestigious awards available to theatre writers in New Zealand – recognising early success in a playwright’s career, and encouraging continued exploration of the theatre medium.

Hereaka has previously been recognised with awards for Best New Play by a Maori Playwright at the Adam Play Awards in 2010 for the critically acclaimed Te Kaupoi and again in 2011 for Rona and Rabbit on the Moon. Her play inspired by the poetry of Rowley Habib – Raw Men – was shortlisted for the Adam New Play award 2012.

Her debut novel, The Graphologist’s Apprentice was shortlisted for Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Asia/Pacific region) in 2011. Her second novel, Bugs, will be launched in 2013.

The multi-talented Tanea Heke will be taking on the challenge of bringing Rewena’s central character – the warm-hearted and tough cooking teacher Maggie – to life. Tanea was last seen on stage at Centrepoint Theatre as Mrs Muller in Doubt, a production that is frequently recalled by members of the Centrepoint audience as an all-time favourite. Since then, Tanea has been incredibly busy with a variety of projects: stage and film work (including No. 2, Second Hand Wedding, and Eagle vs. Shark); most recently working as Project Director for the Ministry of Culture and Development in developing New Zealand’s Guest of Honour programme for the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair.

We are very excited that Rima Te Wiata, will be making her way down to Palmerston North as Rewena’s director. This will be Rima’s first time working at Centrepoint Theatre, and she brings with her an array of talents, and a lot of energy! Known especially for her wicked comic skills and talent for impersonation, as well as being a talented musical performer, Te Wiata is one of New Zealand’s most talented and respected performers of stage and screen. Te Wiata will be known to many Kiwis from her roles in iconic TV shows such as Sons and Daughters, Shark in the Park, The Billy T James Show and satirical shows Issues and More Issues; as well as stints on Shortland Street.


SATURDAY 7 September until SATURDAY 5 October.
Wednesdays 6:30pm; Thursday – Saturday 8pm; Sundays 5pm
[Please note there is no performance on Sunday 8 September.]

Special Performances: 
$20 Tuesday: Tuesday 10 September, 6:30pm. All tickets $20. Bookings for this performance only open on Monday 9 September at 9am through the box office at 280 Church Street or by phone 354 5740. Tickets are allocated on a first in first served basis and we regret we cannot accept email or answer-phone bookings for this special performance.  

Prices: $38 Adults, $30 Seniors, $30 Under 30s, $28 Community Service Card Holders, $18 Students, $68 Dinner & Show.

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

WHEN Monday 28th October, 07:00pm
Tuesday 29th October, 07:00pm
Wednesday 30th October, 07:00pm

WHERE X Space (Baycourt) On Wednesday 30 October, Rewena will play at: Litt Park Theatre, Litt Park, Park Lane, Te Puke

TICKETS $40 (TECT $32)
Booking fees apply

DURATION 60mins (no interval)

Maggie: Tanea Heke

Set Design: John Hodgkins
Lighting Design: Graham Slater 
Costume Design: Amy Macaskill 

Inspired theatre

Review by Nyree Sherlock 30th Oct 2013

As we arrive at Tauranga’s Bay Court to see Whiti Hereaka’s Rewena, we walk into a kitchen space that belongs to Maggie (Tanea Heke). With a glass of red in hand, our host warmly greats us, but reminds us that this is not a restaurant, and definitely NOT one of those Reality TV food-shows! Quite the contrary …

This is Maggie’s home and she is going to show us how to make rewena, often known as Maori paraoa /potato-bread; her rules are simple: be respectful of my home; my time; my knowledge – and turn your cell phones off! (although our protagonist may be accused of double standards regarding this subject, as the hilarious plot unfolds). 

With the house rules laid down, Maggie is ready to proceed with the recipe her mother taught her; the kuia rewena that has been handed down by her whakapapa. Maggie’s duty is to protect the ‘bug’ (or in biological terms: the culture) that makes the dough rise, and share the knowledge, lest it is forgotten.

Suddenly, as Maggie places the bug on the kitchen bench, the set takes on the eerie blue /green hue of a sci-fi lab. In one slick wave of the potato masher, our domestic goddess becomes high-performance rapper, moving stealthily from one ingredient to the next (like a Reality TV chef!), dynamically expounding the origins of the bug /culture with such precision timing that she even manages a flourish with the pois!

This is inspired theatre; a brilliant one-hander, aided briefly by a brave dough-pummelling audience volunteer. Rewena is an unexpected and delightful treat, poignantly reminding us that those simple shared pleasures (the breads of life) are the things that keep us connected with our whanau and friends. Moreover, as Maggie reminds us, we must preserve the culture, for if it is lost, it is gone forever.


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Vitality, personality, expressiveness, spot-on timing

Review by John C Ross 08th Sep 2013

“Ka pai te rewena paraoa! Ka nui te pai!” The theatre-space, we find, on entering it, is Maggie’s kitchen, and she is welcoming us in, as her guests, for a demonstration how to make rewena bread. Halfway through, one ‘guest’ gets recruited to help with kneading the dough, for one of the two loaves she’s making. At the end, in the foyer, we get to taste a slice of this rewena, with butter and golden syrup. Yummy! 

The process requires “respectfulness”, both on the part of the baker and of the observers. For a mainly non-Maori audience, there is a kind of initiation into a tradition of domestic ritual, which must be done right if the bread is to be any good. As Maggie says, things must be done by hand, with love. Everything about it she knows, she learnt from her mother.

Moreover, the quality and particular nature of each rewena-maker’s loaves depends on her ‘bug’; her yeast brew, which one can draw upon, year after year. She tells you how to make your ‘bug’ from scratch, but hers she inherited from her mother. It goes way back into tradition. So, bringing it out from its special place comes about with music, blue light, and a kind of dance routine.

The mode is that of a cooking demonstration, not contest, although one of those is going on somewhere else, with news of its progress being intermittently texted to her on her cellphone, as a bit of vicarious extra drama. Otherwise the mood is of celebration.

The first night at Centrepoint has been the premiere of this show, with the playwright present, and providing some of the rewena loaves. Tanea Heke plays Maggie, and holds the floor, or the stage, throughout, with admirable vitality, force of personality, expressiveness, spot-on timing.

The director Rima Te Wiata merits credit for some of this, and for orchestrated variety in the performance between the completely natural and a kind of expressionistic quasi-dancing.

John Hodgkins’ set likewise combines the realistically rendered kitchen and some surprises, aided by Graham Slater’s lighting design. 

By the end one feels privileged to have been enabled to share in this domestic ritual, this reminder of the uniqueness of the individual rewena-maker. 


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