Te Tangi a te Tūī

Te Pou Theatre, 44a Portage Road, New Lynn, Auckland

01/03/2024 - 10/03/2024

Auckland Arts Festival | Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki 2024

Production Details

Tainui Tukiwaho Director / Writer / Performer
Amber Curreen Writer / Performer
Eve Gordon Co-Creator / Performer
Geoff Gilson Circus Director / Performer

Te Rēhia Theatre, Te Pou Theatre, The Dust Palace

Kaupapa | About
Nā Amber Curreen & Tainui Tukiwaho

Presented by Te Rēhia Theatre Company & The Dust Palace
Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki | Auckland Arts Festival 2024

This show is performed in Te Reo Māori. An English radio play version of the story will be provided to ticket holders before the performance.

Te Tangi a Te Tūī, he karanga nō te kainga, e tō anō ai i te ngākau ki te ngahere.

Te Tangi a te Tūī invites you to experience an enchanting and empowering Māori cirque theatre work about adaptation and authenticity. A remarkable circus spectacle for audiences of all ages.

The Tūī soaks up the world around it and responds in song. Though beautiful, their tune now is a faint echo from when Aotearoa was blanketed in the ngahere, flutes of Patupairehe filled the trees, and Māori alone walked gently upon their mother. The loss of the original voice of the Tūī parallels the forces of loss and regeneration of te reo Māori. This show combines Kaupapa Māori and cirque theatre to create an evocative narrative of love and loss between Māori, Patupairehe and the natural world facing colonial impact.

He mea whakarewa tēnei whakaari e Te Rēhia Theatre Company me The Dust Palace.

This Aotearoa premiere is a collaboration between Te Rēhia Theatre Company, Te Pou Theatre and The Dust Palace, originally commissioned by The Cultch and Urban Ink and supported by Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Ngā wheako | Experience
Cirque theatre
Te Reo Māori

Ngā āhuatanga | Themes

Te Pou Theatre
1 – 10 March 2024

Āhea | When
Friday 1 March, 7pm
Saturday 2 March, 7pm
Tuesday 5 March, 7pm
Wednesday 6 March, 7pm
Thursday 7 March, 7pm
Friday 8 March, 7pm
Saturday 9 March, 7pm
Sunday 10 March, 4pm

Kei hea | Where
Te Pou Theatre

Utu | Cost
$15 – $45

Bookings: https://www.tepoutheatre.nz/te-tangi-a-te-tui/
Show website with trailers and cast/crew: https://www.tetangi.show/

Tainui Tukiwaho Director / Writer / Performer
Amber Curreen Writer / Performer
Eve Gordon Co-Creator / Performer
Geoff Gilson Circus Director, Performer
Jane Hakaraia Set / Apparatus / Lighting Design
David Atai Sound Designer
Michael Craven Lighting and Sound Operator
James Zambucka Assistant Sound Designer
Andrew Gibson Rigging design and installation
Jaine Mieka Rigger
Beth St John Rigger
Maioha Allen Script translation, Te Reo Māori consultant
Edward Peni Stage Manager
Rachael Dubois Producer
Joe Dekkers-Reihana Performer
Te Rongopai Cureen-Tukiwaho Performer
Paku Fernandez Performer
Mary Piggen Performer
Natasha Van Etten Performer
Makanihi Tohu Performer
Myra-Mei Clarke Performer
Anthony Te Puke Performer
Luis Meirelles Performer

Cirque-aerial-theatre , Theatre ,

110 minutes including interval

We want more decolonial theatre

Review by Marisa Diamond 08th Mar 2024

We need not pay for the sins or traumas of our ancestors. We must learn from them …and heal ourselves, our people, and our world.  

Standing among a full standing ovation at the Te Pou Theatre, there was no mistake that Te Tangi e Te Tūī is a powerful, breathtaking, and important show. Amber Curreen, Tainui Tukiwaho, and Eve Gordon have created a truly magical and unique Māori circus show in a collaboration between Te RēhiaTheatre Company, Te Pou Theatre, and The Dust Palace. The story of a boy, Piri, bound by his ancestors’ trauma and choices, is flawlessly told through a seamless blend of movement, story, circus, song, haka, and theatre.

This one-of-a-kind circus production guides the audience through rich traditions of Māori culture and history. With a script in Te Reo, the story is evident whether you understand the words or not. The costumes combine traditional Māori elements with the sparkle of circus to create a magnificent effect onstage. We see whānau onstage and off demonstrated by Piri’s ties to his familial history and mother, as well as the mother-father-son trio of performers Amber Curreen, Tainui Tukiwaho,  and TeRongopai Curreen-Tukiwaho.

The storytelling, both physical and verbal, by all cast members is phenomenal. Paku Fernandez, who plays Piri, the young protagonist of the story, shows the nuance and strength of living through generations of trauma, burden, and new hope. Joe Dekkers-Reihana delivers a heartbreaking performance in his portrayal of Kōiriiri, a Bird person. And Amber Curreen portrays a multidimensional mother who wants only to protect her son, keeping him hidden away from generations of pain in their history.

The circus acts themselves in Te Tangi e Te Tūī are stunning and awe-inspiring. Eve Gordon, the co-creator, also portrays Te Puao te Reinga onstage, the fairy love scorned by Piri’s ancestor. Gordon performs an unfathomable number of aerial and acrobatic acts, most notably a unique fern aerial apparatus that doubles as a musical instrument, displaying her exquisite skill and technique. Not only does Gordon perform in the majority of the circus acts in the production, but she also effortlessly joins in song and delivers commanding theatrical moments in Te Reo. The acrobatic toss act in the show performed mainly by Gordon, Luis Meirelles, and Geoff Gilson is a highlight and elevates the energy of the first act. Mirelles and Gordon then transition to a passionate, jaw-dropping straps duet. 

The story is intensely and intentionally Māori, but the lessons to be learned are resonant with all Indigenous communities. As a person of Indigenous descent, I found myself holding back tears at one storyline in particular: an allegory for all of the Indigenous children sacrificed to the Church. This is not a history unique to Aotearoa. It rings true in nearly every nation colonised by Europeans. However, it is not our ancestors’ traumas that define us, it is the strength we carry from them, it is the knowledge we inherit from how they lived, and it is the knowing of who we are. When we say we want more decolonial theatre, Te Tangi e Te  is exactly what we mean. 


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Te Tangi a te Tūī transcends language and leaves us in a state of blissful awe.

Review by Tatiana Hotere 07th Mar 2024

Old tales translated into the present can ground us in the past while simultaneously lifting us into the future. Roots and wings are the combination every human craves.

Sitting amongst the full house audience at Te Pou Theatre, amidst applause and gasps, being enveloped in the melody of a language I don’t fully understand but which is presented with such passion and eloquence by the talented artists of Te Tangi a Te Tūī, I feel both grounded and elevated. Much like the performers who are grounded in their craft and authenticity, and are, at the same time, inspiring, elevated high above, in surreal acrobatic movements. 

The story unfolds from a time when birds filled the land of Aotearoa, when the songs of the Tūī filled the air, mingled with the magic flutes of Patupaiarehe, the ancient fairy people. A time when, much like today, humans made promises they could not keep without considering the consequences to the generations to come. 

Paku Fernandez plays Piri, the first male born from a warrior lineage in several generations, the boy who must pay the price for the choices and actions of his tūpuna. But Piri’s mother Aotahi (Amber Curreen) is determined to protect her son from the forces who demand atonement and restitution for the wrongs of the past. 

One such force is Te Pua o the Reinga (Eve Gordon) one of the much-feared Patupaiarehe. The other is Kōiriiri, a strange creature known as The Bird Man (played by Joe Dekkers-Reihana). 

Both Te Pua o the Reinga and Kōiriiri, have a claim on Piri’s life. Both have endured unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of the boy’s ancestors. Both need the boy to reclaim what they’ve lost. But the condition is Piri must choose to whom he will surrender his life. 

And so we were lured into the forest to witness a magical tale of love, loss, revenge, freedom and reclamation. The songs of the Tūi and the bravery of a boy who chose his own identity, by refusing to be shackled by the mistakes of this ancestor, but instead claims the responsibility of writing his own story. 

The play is performed fully in Te Reo Māori (a dramatised recorded English version is available for listening before or after the show). But one does not need to be fluent in Te Reo to be captivated by the astonishing performances. 

Euphoric, melancholic and inspiring Te Tangi a Te Tūī is enchanting. It’s a fest for the senses. A banquet for the soul. A balm for the heart.

The stunning light and set design by Jane Hakaraia together with the rich sound design by David Atai transport us into an ancient forest with its hanging tree branches where skilled acrobats wowed us, as they swung and danced in the air, in a display of fierce focus and delightful beauty. The whole cast is terrific in every way.

Co-written by the director Tainui Tukiwaho and producer Amber Curreen, the story has the feeling of an old tale that has been carefully passed on from many generations ago. Remnants of a ‘Midnight Summers Dream’, sprinkled with vague memories of Rumpelstiltskin’s dark magic, but firmly grounded in Kaupapa Māori make this an enriching, and yes, grounding and uplifting, theatrical experience. 

As Te Pua o the Reinga, Eve Gordon is magnificent. With every twist, turn and acrobatic dexterity, she captivates the audience as she skilfully swings from silks and branches high above in an admirable display of elegant strength and mesmerising grace.

How Joe Dekkers-Reihana, is able to bring some humour through, while embodying the dark and twisted character of Kōiriiri, is commendable.

Amber Curreen as Aotahi displays the mana of a wahine toa who defends her child at all costs.

Paku Fernandez is delightful as Piri, weaving the innocence of a boy who has been protected from birth with the wisdom of an old soul who knows, sees, and understands far more than a boy of his age could. 

This is a story that is much deeper than fictional characters and much more potent than the incredible agility of its performers. It’s a reminder that we all have been wronged, and we all have lost something or someone precious to us. It’s a warning, that the choices we make and the actions we take have a ripple effect that will indeed reverberate to generations to come. 

This is also a story about hope and about the power each of us has to let go of the wounds of the past and reclaim our responsibility to re-write our own story. 

Groundbreaking, majestic and spectacular, the weaving of Te Reo Māori storytelling with cirque performance of high calibre, makes this show a must-see for audiences of all ages and cultures. It transcends language and it leaves us in a state of blissful awe.

The Aotearoa Premiere of Te Tangi a te Tūī is presented as part of Te Ahurei Toi O Tāmaki – Auckland Arts Festival from 1- 10 March 2024 at Te Pou Theatre, Henderson.


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