The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

22/08/2013 - 24/08/2013

Production Details

“Belz and Tukiwaho get it spot on with the poetic, original Te Awarua, which has a near-perfect structure and a marvellously light touch.” Janet McAllister New Zealand Herald

1918 WW1, the French town of Le Quesnoy was liberated by a lone troop of New Zealand soldiers. An amazing feat of heroism that most New Zealanders do not know happened.

‘Te Awarua’ is a love story that is set just outside of Le Quesnoy in France towards the end of World War 1. In a trench in the midst of battle, this follows the story of a Maori pioneer Battalion soldier Tawera (Regan Taylor of ‘This is not my life’) isolated in a trench, being unexpectedly joined by a French woman Celandine (Louisa Hutchinson, Graduate of The Actor’s Programme) searching for her lover. They are later joined by Pakeha soldier William (Gerald Urquhart of ‘Shortland St’) and eventually the lover himself, Jean (Matu Ngaropo of “The Maori Troilus and Cressida”).

Interwoven through this story, is the Maori legend of Hinemoa (Gian Adams, student of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi) and Tutanekai as the individuals explain their histories and the secret of their existence is revealed.

This play is performed in 3 languages English, French and Te reo Maori. Te Awarua has use of traditional Maori music woven throughout the performance sung by the cast members themselves. 

Te Rehia Theatre Company is a new company based in Auckland and is driven by the desire to create and deliver universal theatre with Maori themes.

Te Awarua Northland Tour Schedule:

Whangarei- Capitaine Bougainville Theatre,
BOOKINGS PH 09 430 4244 or www.ticketek.co.nz 
Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th August 2013, 7.30pm

Dargaville- Memorial Hall,
BOOKINGS PH 09 439 3123 or visit Kaipara District Council 42 Hokianga Road, Dargaville
Tuesday 13th August 2013  TBC – Afternoon performance

Kaitaia- Te Ahu Centre,
BOOKINGS PH 09 408 9450 or www.visitfarnorthnz.com

Thursday 15th – Saturday 17th August 2013, 6.30pm

PUMPHOUSE Theatre, Takapuna
Thursday, 22 August – Saturday 24 August 2013, 7.30pm

Matu Ngaropo – Dad, Tutanekai, Jean
Gerald Urquhart – William
Regan Taylor – Tawera
Louisa Hutchinson – Celandine
Gian Adams – Nan, Hinemoa

Production Manager – Grace Cullen
Lighting Designer – Calvin Hudson
Lighting Operator – Patrick Minto
Sound Designer – Rory Drew

A triumphant trifecta

Review by Sharu Delilkan 24th Aug 2013

Watching a theatrical production such as Te Awarua, that utilises three languages and cultures as a storytelling device, is indeed a treat. And knowing that the story was being told by the talented Albert Belz certainly made me have high expectations. But unlike many experiences where high expectations are followed by major disappointment, Te Awarua delivered above and beyond my wildest dreams. Everything from the story itself to the skilful direction of Tainui Tukiwaho was a sight to behold. 

Set in the rear trenches of France in the dying days of World War I, a frustrated Maori pioneer Battalion soldier (Regan Taylor) encounters a young French woman Celandine (Louisa Hutchinson) in search of her French lover Jean (Matu Ngaropo), and a Pakeha soldier William (Gerald Urquhart) hell bent of “killing some Germans”. The fable follows The Butcher, Baker and Candlestickmaker story where three disparate souls co-exist, but barely interact with each other and the world around them. [More]  


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Warm-hearted romantic conviction within tragic setting

Review by Nik Smythe 23rd Aug 2013

Albert Belz’s powerful one-act drama was first performed two years ago by Smackbang Theatre Company for the Tuakana/Teina Project.  This month it’s been touring the North with newly formed Te Rehia Theatre Company, culminating with three nights in the Pumphouse. 

The Pumphouse space is stripped right back to its impressively large brick walls.  Considering it’s a touring production, the set is quite substantial, consisting primarily of large stacks of sandbags and small heaps of dirt. Once again the excellent set, also the effective period costumes, go unaccredited; my guess is they were collaboratively curated and designed.  

In any event, cloaked by Calvin Hudson’s dynamically austere lighting and a pervading mist it’s a fitting evocation for the location: a trench just outside war-torn Le Quesnoy in Northern France in the last days of The Great War. 

The cast, directed by Tainui Tukiwaho, are vibrant, strong and generous in their performances.  Regan Taylor is Tawera, a Maori trench digger who resents being given a spade instead of a gun, converses with dead relatives and dreams of killing him some Germans. 

Louisa Hutchinson is French peasant-girl-in-love Celandine in search of her noble lover, Jean: a soldier she dreamed was wounded in the field.  Gerald Urquhart is William, a Kiwi soldier taking shelter from the firestorm. 

Initially reactions are volatile between these three desperate specimens of humanity as they assert their respective positions and assess each other’s trustworthiness.  As quickly as needs must, in a could-die-any-moment scenario, they manage to remember they’re on the same side and work together to achieve their common goal of defeating their common enemy. 

Of course, then there’s what’s actually going on…

In a dream-like depiction of the Rotorua legend of old, as narrated by Tawera ostensibly to distract them from the horrific carnage that surrounds them, Gian Adams personifies Hinemoa with graceful movement and gently powerful, resonant singing voice.  Matu Ngaporo’s two distinct, superbly performed roles parallel one another, Tutanekai to Hinemoa as Jean is to Celandine: the forbidden lovers.  

Rory Drew’s soundtrack, mostly a frequent cavalcade of explosions, gunfire and other incendiary noises, contrasts with the soft, soulful waiata and the melancholic strains of the koauau to compliment the strongly ethereal overtones of the play. 

Belz’s script is humorous, tight and compelling.  Comprising three languages – Maori, English and French, any person fluent in all three tongues will obviously have the advantage in terms of verbal comprehension, but it’s probable that most will not. 

While feeling a little sad that I’m not more fluent in Maori, or French, I enjoy the opportunity to observe more closely other elements of the drama – emotional and spiritual – that perhaps we might take for granted when words guide our perception. 

Indeed, offered as it is with remarkably warm-hearted romantic conviction within the tragic setting, spirituality is both the crux and the ultimate gift of Te Awarua.


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