TAPAC - The Auckland Performing Arts Centre, Auckland

29/10/2015 - 31/10/2015

Production Details

Hawaiki TŪ’s Indigenous Short Works Season

TAKETAKE ‘15 combines eight exhilarating short dance works from Hawaiki TŪ-Haka Theatre. Showcasing a selection of excerpts from their Matariki show ‘Te Manawa’ and their new work-in-development ‘Kurawaka’, the programme also includes some favorite ihi-fueled works from Hawaiki TŪ’s core repertoire.

Thursday 29th October, 7:30pm
Friday 30th October, 1pm & 7:30pm
Saturday 31st October,
2pm (Forum Discussion), 7.30 pm

Kapa Haka theatre , Dance ,

1 hour

A joyously informal atmosphere for grand performances

Review by Briar Wilson 02nd Nov 2015

This company’s vision is “to inspire and shape the future of Maori Performing Arts by creating and sharing high quality Haka Theatre with the world through ihi, wehi and wana”. 

Hawaiiki Tu describe Haka Theatre as a “new indigenous art form that combines the fundamentals of kapa haka, Maori movement and theatre… infused with ihi, wehi and wana.” As a Pakeha New Zealander, I understand that “ihi”, “wehi” and “wana” mean “power, awe and new growth”.  Artistic directors, Kura Te Ua and Beez Ngarino Watt, spoke earlier in a forum about their work, saying that it helped young Maori to find a spiritual base in their culture but also achieves entertainment through dance developed in a contemporary innovative way that respects the totality of traditional Maori forms. 

The items in Taketake ’15 showcased existing repertoire and a new work in progress, Kurawaka, about the creation story (told from a feminine perspective).

The audience was welcomed into the theatre with a traditional wero challenge, to find the rest of the performers on stage, dressed in kakahu, working or talking, in the space between four large carvings or tekoteko waiting for the audience to find their seats and settle.  The show continued with a women’s haka and then Beez was seen sitting on a couch near our predominantly Maori audience from which he talked in a relaxed way, mostly in Te Reo, about the pieces and to make everyone feel comfortable.

Next the stage was lit with dark blue light and covered with netting that became waves at sea, followed by a wild storm where the dancers (evoking creation stories of the gods and ancestors) and now in a waka to showing how hard it must have been to survive the elements.

These pieces all came from Kurawaka, were impressive and, despite the smallish stage, made grand theatre.

Rongo (about planting under the guidance of the Maori God of Agriculture) ewas originallypresented  as part of Short + Sweet dance festival .  This took on a more contemporary aesthetic, with flowing movements from the women to a strumming guitar, using floor, backward rolls, and with a loud finish from the men. It did not have the same dynamism, or qualities of the more traditional pieces, although it was acknowledged as a company favourite, and enthusiastically received by the audience. 

Two more stories were told – the first a love story, poignant and danced with grace (and poi), including a lyrical love song; the second was the story of Tinirau and Kae who stole and ate a beloved pet whale.  Tinirau then called on his women to trick Kae and avenge the loss.  Five female assasins, looking sinister in black, then did a warrior-like dance with poi –being suitably frightening and threatening.

The next piece was inspired by a visit to Tuhoe and Waikaremoana and ended with four women splashing water onto their hair from a shallow trough along the front of the stage.  The final dance “Tangaroa” (which had been previously presentred during Tempo dance festival), with five men with five women, closed on a final lift that the audience greeted with cheers.

Each piece was given its own identity with sound or music and costuming – simple at times for the dancers, with body hugging skirt and bandeau or shifts, or with woven mat or flax for the three first pieces.  The whole company numbered nineteen performers.

While presentation was totally professional, the atmosphere of the evening was joyously informal, with a responsive audience that might call out or cheer on (which is also the meaning of ‘wehi’), and so I, like a welcome guest, could cheerfully ask questions of the woman beside me.  From her I took “Taketake” to indicate an unending connection with what is long established.

In New Zealand we see wonderful growth in our dance when people use their creative instincts inspired by, and inside, their own traditions of movement while reflecting how they are today, and I consider that to be what Hawaiki TŪ is now achieving.



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