Te Karakia

Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton

25/02/2009 - 27/02/2009

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

05/03/2009 - 08/03/2009

Blak Dramatics, Brisbane, Queensland, Aust.

05/06/2009 - 08/06/2009

Dreaming Festival

Production Details

Taki Rua Production’s Te Karakia is a love story of religious and racial challenge, forgiveness and hope, set amidst the mael-strom of the 1981 Springbok Tour. Estranged from both his family and faith, Matthew Connell’s new regimented existence in the police force is threatened when Ranea, a young Mâori woman from his childhood, re-emerges to challenge his future. With civil unrest brewing across the country, Matthew is forced to confront his past.

A production guaranteed to leave you on the edge of your seat.

Premiering at the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts in 2008, Te Karakia was an enormous success [click here for reviews]. Donogh Rees is the only returning actor from last year’s production.

This year Te Karakia has a new cast and writer Albert Belz has reworked this piece with the support of Taki Rua.

Te Karakia will show at the Auckland Festival 09 and The Dreaming Festival in Australia.

Clarence St Theatre, Hamilton: 25th – 28th February
Auckland Festival of the Arts: Herald Theatre, The Edge: 5th -8th March
The Dreaming Festival, Brisbane: Blak Dramatics: 5th – 8th June  

Michael Whalley
Ngapaki Emery
Donogh Rees
Rangimoana Taylor
Tainui Tukiwaho
Karl Drinkwater

Sound:  Stephen Gallagher
Set:  Tony DeGoldi
Lights: Paul Tozer

Festival highlight keeps audience spellbound

Review by Denis Peel 13th Jun 2009

If you’re serious about making a ‘must-do’ list before you’re too old or no longer with us, here are two more to add.

The Dreaming – Australia’s international indigenous festival held at Woodford 100km from Brisbane, which this year (its fifth) ran from 5-8 June, brings together hearts, minds and souls in a celebration that energises and strengthens all who are lucky enough to be there.

There is traditional and contemporary dance, music, visual art and cultural workshops and exchanges in a true spirit of learning, sharing and reconciliation, and also, some stunning theatre. Which brings me to the other must do: see a Taki Rua production. The theatrical highlights of the past two Dreaming festivals for me, have been the two presentations of this inspirational company.

This year’s offering, Te Karakia, left me again feeling that this company is making a wonderful job of mastering the fragile art that is theatre. Festivals in the bush need a very special type of theatrical style and design to succeed in a big muddy tent, away from the comforts of the modern high tech theatrical environment. Te Karakia‘s simplicity in storytelling style and design kept the audience spellbound amid the sound spill from a vibrant festival.

The big political picture of the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour becomes the background for a beautifully told story of two families living on the land in a small rural community. We see various episodes in the growing-up years of Matthew and Ranea that focus on the way that family history and events influence and add shape to our lives. The innocence of two young children brings a lot of humour into the issues of race and religion, allowing the surprises to unfold as the story develops.  

There are no simplicities here and no easy answers. The story carries no fat as the bones of the narrative are joined together. So too, the back stories of the other characters deal with the complexity of our outwardly straight-forward selves.

The cast works well as an ensemble with Michael Whalley’s boyish energy transforming into a very believable adult version of Matthew. Ngapaki Emery also finds dimensions that show the stages of Ranea’s development, and with Rangimoana Taylor (Tohu her dad) she creates some lovely theatrical sparks.

Donogh Rees beautifully portrays the emotional journey of Elsbeth (Matthew’s nan), and Matariki Whatarau’s  policeman, Philip, makes light of the extraordinary situations he finds himself in. Tainui Tukiwaho’s entry as Uru takes the production into a higher gear. He does well with the tough task of delivering the political fervour.

Albert Belz’s script will endure; this is a play that should have a long life internationally. David O’Donnell’s direction provides a beautifully paced production. There is some magic about this company’s work.

Thank you Taki Rua, we’ll keep dreaming, and please send us more.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

“They got me: I cried”

Review by Janet McAllister 13th Jun 2009

"They got me: I cried"

If there’s a genre that local playwrights – usually Māori – have made their own, it’s high-tension family drama. They deal with potentially deathly topics like cultural identity and land politics in a compelling way, calculated to leave no dry eye in the house.

Te Karakia – revamped since its premiere in Wellington last year – is a worthy addition to this canon from the reliably excellent Taki Rua Productions.

Playwright Albert Belz keeps the genre fresh by playing with its conventions: this self-assured play is ostensibly about a Pakeha-Māori romance, but for plot purposes it could almost be a mono-cultural Pakeha or Māori relationship, and anyway, it only serves as a catalyst for the real drama. [More
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council