TE MANAWA (2015)

Shed 1, Corban Estate Arts Centre, Auckland

19/07/2015 - 19/07/2015

Production Details

Matariki on the Move: Hawaiki Tū presents Te Manawa

As part of Matariki Festival, join us at Te Oro for Hawaiki TŪ – Haka Theatre presents Te Manawa. Combining storytelling, kapa haka, Māori movement, theatre and music into a unique performance, the story represents the themes associated with Matariki: navigation, cultivation and the celebration of life. An entertaining and thrilling whanau show that educates and expands knowledge of Matariki and its significance today.

  • Hawaiki TU Haka Theatre is a company of Indigenous Maori Artists from Aotearoa specialising in Haka Theatre – (Kapa Haka, Maori Dance and Theatre)
  • Mission
    Hawaiki TŪ’s aims to share new and authentic Māori Performing experiences that reflect indigeneity, and innovation through ihi with all peoples of the world.

    Co-founders/Directors: Kura Te Ua and Beez Ngarino Watt

    Ko to Manawa, ko toku Manawa – One heart, one mind, one body, one soul

Theatre , Kapa Haka theatre , Family , Dance-theatre ,

1 hour 15 mins

Haka theatre show warmly appreciated by whanau

Review by Raewyn Whyte 21st Jul 2015

There’s no doubting the popularity of haka theatre company Hawaiki Tu. They celebrate Matariki each year with a performance season about key aspects of the Maori New Year — such as navigation, cultivation, and new beginnings. In their production Te Manawa, developed in collaboration with writer Jason Wu, and designed for presentation to whanau audiences, these themes come to the fore in a story of people crossing the oceans from Hawaiki to new beginnings in Aotearoa, their encounters with the local people, and the outcomes of a decision that one of the newly arrived young women, Te Mauri, will marry a representative of the local tribe to ensure continuing acceptance of the incomers.

Presented with pride and polish, confident movement, bursts of poi and crisp mau rakau exchanges, with heartfelt solo and full-throated ensemble singing, and with distinct characterisation of the key roles, the production achieved full houses at Te Oro in Glen Innes, Te Pou in New Lynn, and Corban Estate in Henderson during July 2015.

Te Manawa is a vigorous, rapidly moving blend of kapa haka, theatre, and contemporary song and dance. It features some rich singing, deft haka, a little comedy, and colourful characters who bring the story to life.  Hawaiki Tu’s professional company members play the majority of key roles (as residents of the land under the long white cloud), supplemented by haka theatre students from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (as the incoming new settlers), and other collaborators, swelling the ensemble’s ranks to 17.

There’s a set of four large carved statues, similar to those on Easter Island, and black backdrops behind. There’s a recorded soundscore supplemented by live singing and drumming, and the costumes (by Hera Tuimai and Kikihikihi Ltd) are simple but effective, and beautifully crafted by hand  from traditional materials, giving the men each a loincloth featuring feathers and a woven band, and the women a skirt of dyed flax strands with a woven band worn draped over one shoulder. Everyone has basic blacks beneath, and the men have block-pressed leg and thigh tattoos.

The narrator, Koro, (Watt) is 524 years old, and knows only too well the tale he tells us. He makes sure the key aspects presented by the cast through song and movement and dramatic exchanges are re-stated for the audience, and he keeps the pace cracking along by drumming for sections of dance and fighting. 

The locals are a rambunctious bunch, especially the men, and it’s clear they take pride in martial arts and mau rakau. The women sing and dance  with conviction, and there’s a feeling that they are all defending their turf from the new arrivals.

There are seven distinct sisters amongst the incomers, mostly energetic, animated,  flirtatious and eager to attract attention for the handsome local men. Amongst them is Te Mauri (Rosie Belvie), her Papa’s (Iwingaro Matthews)  shining light. She catches the eye of Koru (Karena Koria), but also that of his Rangatira (Edmund Eramiha), and she falls in love with the younger man, as you would expect.

A wedding is announced, but then everything turns to custard and celebration becomes despair.  Despite the protestations of the two young people that they love one another, the Rangatira’s decision is that neither man will become her husband, and instead she shall be flung into the heavens to join the stars of Matariki, and both men will be without her other than to be bale to gaze up at her during her annual return to their skies for a brief few weeks.

And so it is, the tale sadly ends, followed by some of the best ensemble performance of the whole production, then a pause, followed by time for the cast to introduce themselves and for the audience to share their responses, ask questions, and express their appreciation before rolling back out into the daylight with smiles on their faces.  


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