Concert Chamber - Town Hall, THE EDGE, Auckland

22/03/2012 - 24/03/2012

Te Papa Amphitheatre, Wellington

09/03/2012 - 10/03/2012

Globe Theatre, London

23/04/2012 - 24/04/2012

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Te Reo Shakespeare premieres for the 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival 

A sparkling new Māori translation of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, starring Rāwiri Paratene as Pandarus, debuts for the 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival.

Ngākau Toa’s dynamic approach to the Bard will feature haka and waiata created especially for the production and a 14-strong Māori ensemble cast.  Performed in Māori, Ngākau Toa’s The Māori Troilus and Cressida has been translated by Te Haumiata Mason.

After their debut for the Festival, the Auckland-based company will travel to the UK, where their unique version of Troilus and Cressida, co-produced by Rāwiri Paratene, will play atLondon’s Globe Theatre.  Ngākau Toa is representing New Zealand at the Globe’s multi-lingual Shakespeare festival for London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games celebrations. The festival will feature an unprecedented 38 international companies each performing Shakespeare’s works in their languages.

Paratene starred as Koro in the critically acclaimed 2002 film Whale Rider. He has enjoyed a varied career as an actor, writer, director and producer in theatre, television, radio and film. His connection to the Globe goes back to 2009, when he was the first Māori actor to perform there, in Romeo and Juliet.

The Māori Troilus and Cressida
Te Papa Amphitheatre or Marae 
9 & 10 March 2012

With support from Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Papa

Aotea Square, Auckland
22, 23, 24 March 2012

The Globe Theatre, London
23-24 April 2012
Click to Book


Pirīama/Priam King of Toroi:  William Davis

Hiakita/Hector son of Pirīama:  Xavier Horan

Parihi/Paris son of Pirīama:  Whatanui Flavell

Toroihi/Troilus son of Pirīama:  Kimo Houltham

Kerenga/Cassandra daughter of Pirīama:  Waimihi Hotere

Hērena/Helen wife of Menerau now with Parihi:  Roimata Fox

Rōpā Servant to Parihi:  Waimihi Hotere

Ānaha/Aeneas an ihorei (general) of Toroi:  Jamus Webster

Anatena/Antenor an ihorei of Toroi:  Rangi Rangitukunoa

Kāhira/Cressida daughter to Ka-tihi:  Awhina Rose Henare-Ashby

Panātara/Pandarus uncle to Kahira:  Rāwiri Paratene

Kātihi/Calchas a tohunga from Toroi who has defected to Ngā Kariki, Father of Kāhira:  William Davis

Arekahānara/Alexandra servant to Kāhira:  Roimata Fox

Akamēmana/Agamemnon the highest ihorei of Kariki:  Scotty Morrison

Menerau/Menelaus King of Kariki, betrayed husband of Helen, younger brother of Akamēmana:  Scotty Morrison

Ūrihi/Ulysses an ihorei of Kariki:  Calvin Tuteao

Netāhio/Nestor an ihorei of Kariki:  Waihoroi Shortland

Taiōmete/Diomedes an ihorei of Kariki, rewarded with Kāhira:  James Tito

Aikiri/Achilles an ihorei of Kariki:  Matu Ngaropo

Patokihi/Patroclus an ihorei of Kariki:  Rangi Rangitukunoa

Āhaka/Ajax an ihorei of Kariki:  Maaka Pohatu

Tēhiti/Thersites servant to Āhaka:  Juanita Hepi

Co-Director & Master of Movement:  Jamus Webster
Tāonga Puoro:  Richard Nunns and James Webster
Costume Design:  Shona Tawhiao
Stage Manager:  Tweedie Waititi
Reo Māori Advisors:  Tweedie Waititi, WaihoroiShortland, Scotty Morrison, Te Haumihiata Mason
Associate Producer:  Waimihi Hotere 
Producer:  Grace Hoet 
Executive Producer:  Rawiri Paratene  

Theatre ,

2hrs 30mins, incl. interval

Remarkable, aggressive, thoughtful

Review by Andrew Dickson 25th Apr 2012

No one could accuse Shakespeare’s Globe of lacking nerve. Not only does their contribution to the World Shakespeare festival include almost every work in the canon, each in a different language (from Juba Arabic to British Sign Language), but they’ve elected to open proceedings with a play few would honestly choose as their favourite.

Troilus and Cressida – a knotty, bittersweet love story set across the battlelines of the Trojan War, like a rerun of Romeo and Juliet without the consolation of death – is a hard sell at the best of times, never mind when it’s in a language from the other side of the world.  

In the event, though, the Auckland-based Ngakau Toa company, performing in classical Maori, offer a potent, swaggering production that looks entirely at home on this stage. [More]  


Make a comment

Language no barrier to universality and tragicomic richness

Review by Dominic Cavendish 25th Apr 2012

Some of the finest tattooed buttocks on the planet were bared on the opening night of Globe to Globe, ushering in an unprecedented, six-week, non-stop, multilingual celebration of Shakespeare in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Ngakau Toa from Auckland, New Zealand, came, saw and conquered with their Maori Troilus and Cressida, thanks in part to an unforgettable curtain-call haka, in which eyes blazed, feet stomped, hands scythed the air and tongues waggled. Their stirring commitment and devotion couldn’t have put the case more resoundingly for the value of what might sound like a madcap project.

The first of 37 shows in this marathon undertaking had no imported set and little in the way of clothing; female modesty was preserved with skirts and stylish dresses but among the men sometimes a plaited flax belt alone sufficed. Yet despite the cold, the rain, and ogling capacity crowd, you didn’t detect so much as a goose-pimple or ripple of self-consciousness. [More


Make a comment

Satirical mockery strips war of all pretensions to nobility

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 23rd Mar 2012

Ngakau Toa are offering a brief opportunity to experience a full Maori language Shakespeare before the show travels to London for the Globe to Globe Festival – an extraordinary event that will present all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different languages.

The production is a remarkable testimony to the transcendent quality of Shakespeare’s writing that is somehow able to speak across time and culture.

By setting Troilus & Cressida amongst warring Maori tribes in the period before European contact director Rachel House not only succeeds in illuminating the themes of the play but offers a startling new perspective on Maori culture. [More


Make a comment

An awe-inspiring marvel

Review by Paul Diamond 20th Mar 2012

In 2002, the release of The Mäori Merchant of Venice was a boost for Te Reo Mäori.  Ten years on, Ngäkau Toa’s production of The Mäori Trolius and Cressida marks a further milestone in the history of this country’s first language.

The Mäori Merchant of Venice was inspired by a translation of Shakespeare’s play by the Ngäti Maniapoto scholar Pei Te Hurinui Jones in the 1940s.  Jones translated other plays, including Huria Hiha (Julius Caesar) and Owhiro (Othello).

Translating works like these is a daunting prospect, and I’ve wondered whether any further translations into Mäori would follow.  It’s extremely gratifying then, that Te Haumihiata Mason has tackled Troilus and Cressida, and that her sparkling translation has been brought to life in this vivid, energetic and engaging production.

Shakespeare’s ‘problem play’ explores the costs of love and war, and works well in a Mäori setting.  A well-known whakataukï (proverb) came to mind while I was watching the performance: He wahine, he whenua, e ngaro ai te tangata. (By women and land, men are lost.)  The themes in Shakespeare’s plays have universal appeal.  The matakite (prophetic) tradition in Mäori culture also fits well with a character like Cassandra, brought to life by Waimihi Hotere.

The night I went, I was in the back row and couldn’t hear all the dialogue, but this wasn’t a barrier to working out what was going on, thanks to the skill of the actors and the direction.  When I could hear, I enjoyed the poetry of the language, and hearing kïwaha (idiom/colloquialisms).  It also says something about the current capacity of the language that a cast and crew of this calibre could be assembled.  It’s a coming together of talent that couldn’t have been envisaged in Pei Jones’ time.

Rawiri Paratene, one of the best-known faces and most experienced actors, is a commanding presence (and Executive Producer) in this production.  Waihoroi Shortland (Netähio/Nestor) and Scotty Morrison (Akamëmana/Agamemnon) both appeared in the Mäori Merchant of Venice (as Shylock/Hairoka and Antonio/Anatonio) and were Reo Māori Advisors for this production.  Both are key figures in the push to revitalise the Mäori language, through their work as teachers, broadcasters and writers. 

It’s also heartening to see younger, less-familiar faces.  Drama student Awhina Rose Henare-Ashby is wonderful as Kähira (Cressida), ably capturing the emotional highs and lows and the strange, ambiguous positions this character finds herself in.

As well as showcasing the richness of the Mäori language, the Mäori Troilus and Cressida highlights areas of Mäori art and culture that have developed in recent years.  We heard (and saw) taonga puoro (Mäori musical instruments) played by Richard Nunns and James Webster. 

Haka, waiata, mau rakau (Mäori weapons), were all seamlessly integrated into the narrative, heightening the drama.  The costumes also displayed the skills in weaving nurtured by groups such as Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa (Mäori Weavers New Zealand).  Perhaps the only things we didn’t see were karetao (puppets) and waka ama paddling!

My only gripe is the portrayal of Patroclus (Patokihi), played by Rangi Rangitukunoa.  In classical Greek mythology, Patroclus is regarded as a comrade of Achilles.  In Shakespeare’s retelling of the story, the two men are lovers.  In this production, Patokihi – described in programme notes as an ihorei (person of rank, leader) of the Greeks – is played as a camp, simpering caricature, in contrast to the masculine Achilles/Aikiri.  The use of tired, and frankly offensive stereotypes with no basis in history or literature perhaps says more about our own time and sexual hang-ups.

With that one reservation, this is production is a marvel, and a credit to the whole cast and production team.  It’s also a sorely-needed fillip for the language, and cause for optimism, following the grim outlook reported in the Waitangi Tribunal’s report on the Wai 262 claim over indigenous flora and fauna.  A generation on from the advent of the modern Mäori-language revival, the tribunal argued that the language ‘is approaching a crisis point.’ 

Ngäkau Toa’s production of The Mäori Troilus and Cressida is a timely reminder that while the future of the language isn’t secure, it retains the capacity to inspire awe.  I’m already proud of what this production will look like in London, at Shakespeare’s Globe.  See it if you can.  It deserves our support.

Note: Due to the weather the Auckland season has been moved inside to the Town Hall – Concert Chamber, which means there is limited seating.


Make a comment

Poetic, vibrant, physical, visceral

Review by John Smythe 10th Mar 2012

A standing ovation in the packed ‘standing-room-only’ Te Papa marae confirmed the success of this brave and challenging enterprise: a Māori translation – by Te Haumihiata Mason – of Troilus and Cressida, one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known and more problematic plays.  

As performed by this cast of 17, directed by Rachel House, the consensus amid the animated crowd in the aftermath of its premiere is that the Māori language and performance conventions has given The Māori Troilus and Cressida – Toroihi Rāua Ko Kāhira a natural home.

Nine years ago, when the standard English version, with some Māori content, was mounted as the Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School graduation production (directed by Annie Ruth), it was billed as The Tragic History of Troilus and Cressida – a Comedy, and fair enough too.

Written at the turn of the 16th into the 17th century, soon after Twelfth Night and Hamlet (and just before his other ‘problem plays’), it exposes and satirises the corrosively corruptive nature of war and love by revisiting Homer’s Illiad and Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Seven years into the very long Trojan war, this phase is precipitated by the abduction of Helen (wife of Menelaus, King of Greece) by Paris (son of Priam, King of Troy). Revenge, as ever, is the driver.

In this context Troilus, the youngest son of Priam, refuses to fight because he is in love with Cressida, the daughter of the prophet Calchas (who has defected toGreece, having foreseen the fall ofTroy). But the machinations, manipulations and prisoner-trading of a war controlled by those in greater power sees their love destroyed.

Scholars claim it was never performed in Shakespeare’s time; it’s first known performance was in 1898 (for Ludwig II ofBavaria) and it didn’t gain traction inBritainuntil after ‘The Great War’, when the people were ready to rethink the idea of war as a glorious and honourable pursuit.

The Toi Whakaari production was set at time of the New Zealand Land Wars. The Trojans were played as Māori and the Greeks as British-backed government forces, with captives and collaborators on both sides.

This Ngākau Toa production – with all names transliterated into Māori – is firmly set in pre-Pakeha days, so it characterises tribal conflict, with all the vengeful and revengeful scenarios that attend it, as fundamentally self-defeating despite the heroic status some characters have gained. And as a reflection of current conflicts around the globe, it remains all too tragically relevant.

As one who does not speak te reo Māori, I represent the majority of those in attendance in Wellington and those destined to see it at Shakespeare’s Globe in London when – on Shakespeare’s 448th birthday (23 April)* – it opens a multilingual season of 37 international productions covering all of his plays. While many will use surtitles (as per opera), The Māori Troilus and Cressida will not, I am told. Nor does it need to.

Of course those fluent in Māori will get more from it – the witty and perceptive asides raise many a laugh from those in the know – but the excellent scene-by-scene synopsis, in English, allows the rest of us to follow the action and know what is happening thanks to the dynamic way it is presented.

By its very nature, the Māori language is poetic, vibrant and oratorical as well as conversational. Physically, the traditional means of expression we know from kapa haka (wiri, pukana, whetero, etc) support the text and reveal the inner feelings of characters. And Shona Tawhiao’s costume designs readily signify the roles and status of each character within the hierarchies.

The mana of William Davis’s Pirīama (Priam), Scotty Morrison’s Akamēmana (Agamemnon), Waihoroi Shortland’s Netāhio (Nestor) and Calvin Tuteao’s Ūrihi (Ulysses) is instantly clear in their demeanour. The posturing of all the warriors is visceral and the preening of Whatanui Flavell’s Parihi (Paris ) is amusingly vain.

At the core of the story it is easy to empathise with the full spectrum of emotions as Kimo Houltham’s Toroihi (Troilus) and Awhina Rose Henare-Ashby’s Kāhira (Cressida) navigate their relationship through its shallows, depths, peaks and troughs. Henare-Ashby’s roller-coaster ride through distrust, fear, attraction, love, lust, post-coital vertigo and pragmatic realignment (for the greater good or self-preservation?) is especially impressive.

As her uncle Panātara (Pandarus), Rāwiri Paratene conveys a rich array of recognisable states – conniving, salacious, self-serving, proud and finally disillusionment – as he lives vicariously through the bourgeoning love of his niece and her lover, and deals with the ultimate failure of their love to conquer all.

Xavier Horan’s posturing warrior, Hiakita (Hector), Matu Ngaropo’s reluctant warrior Aikiri (Achilles) – the only one not to have his buttocks tattooed – and Maaka Pohatu’s manipulated Āhaka (Ajax) exemplify all the warriors in the clarity of their thoughts and feelings about the roles they are asked to play by their superiors.

Waimihi Hotere gives a vivid account of the anguish of Kerenga (Cassandra) at not having her prophecies heeded. Roimtata Fox brings a vital presence to Hērena (Helen), as does William Davis as Kātihi (Calchus).

Perhaps the most interesting casting is Juanita Hepi as Tēhiti (Thersities), described in Shakespeare’s dramatic personae as “a deformed and scurrilous Greek“. This is the ‘fool’ character, who satirises the actions and antics of those who are supposedly superior, and Hepi stands tall as an incisive, if foul-mouthed, commentator.

Richard Nunns and James Webster accompany the play with traditional instruments, providing atmosphere unobtrusively with subtle, evocative sound.

Whereas some productions apparently like to have the sounds of battles ‘off’ throughout the play, this one builds to the ‘decider’ between Hiakita and Āhaka, which is fought according to Mau Rakau conventions. This works for me as a focussed representation of all battles in all forms.

One of my Shakespeare advisers also tells me that there has been a trend for Pandarus (Panātara) to be played as syphilitic at the end, to enhance his bitterness at the failure of romantic love (because Shakespeare is reputed to have contracted syphilis around the time he wrote this play). But for my money (koha, in this case), it works very well for his response to be to all we have witnessed, with no extraneous add-ons.  

I understand there will be further work done before the Auckland season (Aotea Square, 23-24 March) and the Globe season a month later. Even as it stands, however, it is destined to set a very high bar indeed for the multilingual Globe to Globe festival.
– – – – – – – – – –
*Known to have been baptised on 26 April 1564, is it guessed that William Shakespeare was born on 23 April, which – 52 years later – was also the date of his death, in 1616.   


Editor April 25th, 2012

Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare’s Globe, Telegraph review

cameron rhodes April 24th, 2012 

Four stars!!!

John Smythe April 24th, 2012

This video from London's Globe is stunning: 

And here is the link to the Globe season:

Raewyn Whyte March 21st, 2012

Macrons are a moving feast Richard. By a small miracle, the macrons in this review -- both in the heading and in the body, are rendering correctly as far as my browser shows (Chrome for PC). 

Well and good. Bravo to the technical team.

But email is sent from the site and generally read by other software than your web browser -- so if you are seeing gobblydegook in your email and NOT in the actual review, it's your email package which is not rendering the macrons being  sent to it.

John Smythe March 20th, 2012

Thank you Richard - we are investigating

Richard Grevers March 20th, 2012

Just a technical suggestion, John: If you (or your developers) change both the site and the notifications emails to UTF-8 encoding, then authors will be able to type macronised characters directly, and the emails will not be wrecked by html entity codes.

Make a comment

Standing ovation for pre-birthday Maori performance

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Mar 2012

The Maori Troilus and Cressida is the first Festival production that I have attended that has received a full standing ovation, and even though it’s a home crowd and might be a bit biased it still augurs well for April the 23rd (Shakespeare’s birthday) and the inaugural production of the multi-lingual versions of the 37 plays by Shakespeare at the Globe in London.

Troilus and Cressida is not one of Shakespeare’s easier plays. It has had a chequered stage history. Only in the last 60-odd years of its near 400 years has it been widely produced and has only been performed in Wellington in a fine production at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School in 2003 when it was set during the Land Wars with the Trojans played as Maori (and speaking Maori at times) and the Greeks as British troops.

Scholars are uncertain about it. They have described it as a history play, a comedy, a tragedy, a comical satire, a tragical satire, a problem comedy, a problem play, a philosophical play, and a “hybrid and hundred-headed prodigy.”

Whatever, Rachel House keeps it simple, direct and full of energy, using the full stage and the aisles of the Te Papa Marae to keep the action flowing. She starts with two musicians (Richard Nunns and James Webster) who provide sound effects created on traditional instruments throughout the play. A prologue follows in which the two opposing armies in the Trojan War perform a haka and challenge one another.

Then Panatara (Pandarus) and Toroihi (Troilus) appear with Toroihi cursing Herena (Helen) for starting the war and bemoaning the fact that he can only get to Kahira (Cressida) through the sleazy services of Panatara. And then the play is off into some complex situations (a crib sheet is provided) that get a little bit confusing at the end.

The costumes (Shona Tawhiao) are vivid and dramatic with subtle touches that hint at Greek and Trojan dress and the body tattoos also help to make it clear who is on what side. The acting is strong and vital if not subtle and will fill the Globe with ease. Rawiri Paratene as Panatara is funny, camp, devious, and in a word, superb. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council