BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

16/06/2021 - 17/06/2021

Kia Mau Festival 2021

Production Details

Four mokopuna descended from four Atua Māori are sent to the sacred school of learning – ‘Te Wānanga o ngā Atua.’ There they are to learn how to harness their ‘mauri’ – inner power and one day carry out the important roles of their grandparents as guardians of ‘Te Ao’ and ‘Te Pō.’

However, like all great powers there is also great responsibilities that they must learn along the way to ensure that everything is in unison and as it should be. This is the ‘Mana Atua’ qualities that they possess as individuals which when combined is more powerful than anything. However, each mokopuna has their own ideas and upbringings on how the world should be but that must all be put aside for the greater good of our realm. If not, then the world as we know and see it will diminish before our very eyes.

*Suitable for all ages, ethnicities and languages. A fully immersed theatre production which fuses kapa haka, tikanga Māori, te reo Māori and influenced by a Māori World view all neatly packaged into a Māori theatre production.

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
16 – 17 June 2021
The Difference $40
Full Price $20
Group 6+ $18 
Concession Price $15 

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Theatre , Te Reo Māori ,

1 hr

Unapologetically Māori

Review by Patrick Hape 18th Jun 2021

Tihei ki te mauri o tō ora. Te Rongomaiwhiti – nāu te reo karanga, kia rāhiri mai te tini ngeangea ki te whare whakaari. Te Rongomaiwhiti – nāu te takapau i hora, kia rārangahia ngā kōrero o tāukiuki ki ngā tukutuku o te whare whakari. Te Rongomaiwhiti – nāu te toki i whakakoi, kia whakairohia ngā pou matua o te whare whakaari. Te Rongomaiwhiti te pou kaiāwhā o tēnei whare whakaari, karanga mai, mihi mai, whakatau mai. … 

Kua riro mā ngā mokopuna a ngā Atua e pīkau i ngā kōrero matua o tēnei whare whakaari. I tukuna hoki ngā kaupapa kia kōrerohia e te whiu o te rākau, e te takahi o te wae, e te rere o te poi. Hoki atu, hoki atu, ko aua kaupapa tonu e tōaitia ana ki te whare whakaari. He aha ka pāhawa i tēnā? Ko te reo Māori ka rangona, ko ngā kōrero pūrākau ka kitea, ko te ahurea Māori ka whakarewahia. I whakairo koutou i tētahi ao e mōhiotia ana e ngāi aunty, e ngāi uncle hoki. Mā te aha i tēnā. He kaupapa tēnei ka titia ki te ngākau o te hunga hīkaka ki ēnei momo mahi. Kāore i ngata i te hiakai, engari, he timotimo kai i hora kia mōhio te tangata ki te reka o ngā kai i ahu mai i te pātaka o whakaari Māori. Te Rongomaiwhiti, ko koe i urutomokia te nehenehenui. Tūngia te ururua kia tipu whakaritorito ai ngā pā harakeke o te whakaari Māori.

Te Rongomaiwhiti is unapologetically Māori. Everything about this show is Māori – the script, the actors, the music, even the audience. But it is the grandchildren of Māori deities that bring kapa haka, te reo Māori and whānau Māori to the theatre stage, with the potential to significantly impact the theatre sector as a whole. The ideas of the show and their execution are not new to Māori audiences. But this familiarity is its strength.

The varying facets of Kapa Haka are the primary vehicles used to tell the show’s stories. Kapa Haka, defined as a Māori cultural performing troupe, is more commonly known as the combination of Māori song and dance. Different waiata ā-ringa (action songs), haka (posture dances), poi (dance with poi), and koikoi (spear presentations) bring the stories of Te Nehenehe Nui, Marangai, Tamangarengare, and Rongotaketake to life. The use of Kapa Haka is often used to act out dialogue while it is occurring, embellish the scenes that have occurred, or as a crafty way of transitioning scenes.

Although no boundaries are challenged or pushed in regard to the Kapa Haka disciplines that are used, the safe approach helps keep the content familiar for the audience. It reflects high-school Kapa Haka – it is relatable to real life examples of teens in high school. Using haka to tell stories is not a new premise to Māori society, but is a new and a growing trend in the theatre industry.

Te reo Māori is upfront and centre in Te Rongomaiwhiti. There are generally limited opportunities to engage with a complete te reo Māori theatre show. Audiences are thirsty for it. The pronunciation, the Māori flavour jokes, and the diverse use of words and language structures help to partially quench the thirst of those wanting to drown in te reo Māori. The show leaves us thirsty for more diverse, more innovative, and more contemporary uses of te reo Māori within theatre productions.

Māori within any sector are mindful of creating harmony – establishing a presence of te ao Māori within the constraints of established cultures and processes. Within the arts sector, navigating the balance between te ao Māori and theatre can be challenging but is also rewarding. It’s about ensuring quality and reflecting reality.

Te Rongomaiwhiti throws te reo Māori and oral histories onto a theatre stage in a way that is familiar and understandable. Moving forward, I am interested in identifying how we push the boundaries, and how we maintain our own tikanga (or customs). Integrating Māori into contemporary settings is about pushing the boundaries. Does the show push boundaries? Not necessarily. But, and it’s a big but, what it does offer is familiarity, an understanding of te ao Māori (a Māori worldview) and an opportunity to showcase a snippet of what Māori can bring to theatre stages. Te Rongomaiwhiti demonstrates what is possible when te ao Māori takes centre stage.

Te Rongomaiwhiti has attracted Māori audiences. The aunty cackles and murmurs of te reo Māori conversations fill the lobby and seats of BATS theatre. Like high school kapa haka, this show attracts whānau from all over to support the kaupapa (themes) and people of the show. Whānau come out for their own stories and people. Engaging Māori stories that are interpreted by Māori, that go on to be performed by Māori are then enjoyed by Māori and beyond. The audience engagement throughout – especially during bows – helps demonstrate the pride some audience members have for the kaupapa and people of the show.

Change needs to come and Te Rongomaiwhiti has an opportunity to be a leader in this space. More boundaries need to be pushed. More reo needs to be spoken. More whānau need to be engaged. Te Rongomaiwhiti and other full te reo Māori shows need to start considering – How do we challenge our perceptions of what Māori in theatre “should” look like? How do we add more depth to our characters to better reflect people in our societies? How do we use the magic of theatre to engineer stories that are vivid and lifelike? Te reo Māori shows have a unique offering to the wider theatre sector – the kaupapa and people that provide groundings to our show. It’s about being like Te Rongomaiwhiti – unapologetically Māori.

He kai kei ō koutou ringa. Mārakerake ana te kite i te pito mata o Te Rongomaiwhiti. Tiki ake i ngā rau o te pāharakeke o te ao whakaari kia rārangahia ki ngā aho kōrero kua kohia e koutou. Whiria ngā taura o te ao whakaari ki te ao Māori kia mau, kia ita tō tātou reo kāmehameha me ōna āhuatanga katoa. Māori tū, Māori ora! 


Daniel Allan May 28th, 2022

Kia ora,

I have been thinking so much about this incredible show since seeing it last year, and how it has actually been underrated in bringing a new form to Aotearoa, a fully integrated Te Reo Māori theatre with kapa haka elements, a form that we have been crying out for! This review warms my heart all over again, you have nailed the feeling I got from the show. 6 months of Te Reo learning ensued for me, and I hope I can re-encounter this company again when I understand more of the reo. Excellent review e hoa, tau ke koe.

Nga mihi nui,

Dan Allan

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