Taku Waimarie

Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Marae, Cable Street, Wellington

02/05/2023 - 05/05/2023

Capital E Bite Size Treats 2023

Production Details

Written by by Willy Craig Fransen
Directed by Regan Taylor

Taki Rua Productions

Taki Rua brings back one of its original Te Reo Māori Season productions: Taku Waimarie, by Willy Craig Fransen (Ngāi Tahu, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Horana, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, te Iwi Mōrehu and Ngāti Koterana). Performed entirely in te reo Māori, this delightful classic is reimagined for the tamariki of today.

Tamatea runs away from the family farm, headed for the bright lights of the city. He is knocked unconscious, and awakes to find the city ruled by a dreaded taniwha that forbids the use of te reo Māori. Can Tamatea and his new city friends defeat the taniwha?

Full of humour and endearing characters, Taku Waimarie reveals the power of working together to overcome life’s challenges in a participatory and animated production.

This season of the Taku Waimarie will be performed as part of a down sized version of the Capital E National Arts Festival which is called Bite-Size Treats.

The event will run from Tuesday 2nd May to Friday 5th May. Show times are 10:00am and 11:30am.

This event is run as education only and will not be open to public.

Link to the event webpage: https://bitesizetreats.capitale.org.nz/education-shows-taku-waimarie/
Social script is available on link.

Amanda Noblett, Performer
Hosea Tuita’alili, Performer
Huia Max, Performer
Dylan Fa'atui, Performer
Chelsea Adams, Stage Manager
Cara-Louise Waretini, Costume Designer
Maaka McGregor, Sound Designer
Taupuruariki Brightwell, Set & Props Designer
Theresa Adams, Production Manager

Tānemahuta Gray, CEO/AD
Joyce Kupe Stephens, Administrator
Alex Granville, Marketing & Fundraising Manager
Ellen Murfitt, Fundraising Assistant
Grace Couper, Marketing and Comms Manager
Paul McLaughlin, General Manager

Te Reo Māori , Theatre ,

45 minutes

Thoroughly enjoyable discovery of the value of cultural identity

Review by John Smythe 04th May 2023

Taki Rua Productions’ contribution to the Capital E Bite Size Treats schools-only festival is Taku Waimarie: a taonga whakaari that was one of their first te reo Māori season shows back in the 1990s. Written by Willy Craig Fransen, and presented in the colourful setting of Cliff Whiting’s Te Marae o Te Papa, this Regan Taylor-directed revival is as fresh and lively as ever. 

Strong connections are made with the young kura kaupapa, kōhanga reo and infant schools audience during an introductory sequence that includes the reo version of ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’, discovering kau, hipi, poaka, kurī me hōiho with appropriate actions – to be recalled later as part of the action. And so to the play …

Taku Waimarie (My Good Fortune) follows fed-up farm boy Tamatea (Hosea Tuita’alili) as he runs away from his Mum (Amanda Noblett), Dad (Dylan Fa’atui), house cow Two-Tie (Huia Max) and all the other farm animals. He thinks he will have a better life in the bright lights of te tāone nui – and doesn’t know his parents are planning to hire a farm hand and take the whānau to the big city.

On contrast to Tamatea’s ideas about the ‘bright lights’, Taupuruariki Brightwell’s set and props designs depict the farm in bright colours, with Kōwhaiwhai patterns evoking ngā whenua me awa, while the unfriendly city is all dull grey concrete blocks – cleverly revealed with reversable panels. Cara-Louise Waretini’s costume designs, for people and animals alike, enhance each character, and Maaka McGregor’s sound design enriches the drama throughout.

The strong sense that Tamatea’s deeply experienced journey blends reverie with reality could be said to replicate the culture shock felt by many who take the trip from a loving rural home to an alien concrete jungle. The way the story is dramatised also taps into the rich imaginary worlds of its target audience.

Tamatea Wiremu feels like ‘the man’ on his home turf, strongly connected to his tipuna, and performs a haka to prove it. But his fraught journey through rākau and over taiepa finds him challenged by a gang of streetkids, led by Rongo, played by Amanda, backed up by Dylan and Huia. Judiciously avoiding any sense of violence, their kakari is played out with electric handshakes and bouts of paper-scissors-rock. Long poi and ti rākau are also cleverly utilised in various ways.

Posters evoking Tama Iti’s ‘I will not speak Māori’ / ‘Kāore au e kōrero’ set the scene for Tamatea’s consciousness-raising by Rongo. The source of their oppression is an evil taniwha called Kapene Huuka. Draped in silver-grey scales, wearing a pirate’s tricorn hat and brandishing hook-like hands, this ngārara is played with comical relish by Dylan. There is no danger of tamariki being scared – I’m guessing he will be the favourite character for them to play in their inevitable reconstructions.

Kapene Huuka thinks anyone speaking te reo Māori is a threat to his sovereignty and it is deliciously ironic that he warns the kids against it in te reo. The street kids’ reo is somewhat rudimentary, by the way.

The spirit of Two-Tie – sounds like tūtae (dung, poo) which is a good kid-friendly joke – wards off the evil Huuka and advises the tamariki that the strength he wants to deprive them of lies in their language and tikanga. And it’s Tamatea, who has taken his good fortune – his fluency in te reo and connection to tikanga Māori – for granted, who becomes their positive role model. His teaching the street kids mau rākau is one of many ways te ao Māori is vibrantly realised in this production.

When Huuka returns and it takes everyone, including Two-Tie and the audience, to repel him for good, consigning him to watery depths through the dramatic wrangling of a large blue sheet.

A premonition that the real Two-Tie is unwell brings Tamatea back home in a manner that suggests his experience might all have happened in the head he bangs against the farm gate. He’s happy to know his parents have hired a farm hand but is not at all interested it taking a family trip to te tāone nui. He’s got all he needs and values right here on the family farm.

By introducing themselves fully to the audience as a postscript to their performance, the cast and Stage Manager (Chelsea Adams) emphasise the importance of their cultural identities. It is a revelation that Hosea and Dylan are both Samoan, given their impeccable reo, and Dyan as street kid does a scene in NZ Sign Language so all the official languages of Aotearoa are present and correct. As for the kaimātakitaki tamariki, it’s clear they’ve understood everything and had a memorable expeience with Taku Waimarie. I can only envy and respect them all.

[I am indebted to Taki Rua for the show synopsis they provided, and to my companion Hohipera for clarifying key elements and deepening my thorough enjoyment of this play.]


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