The Tīwhas: A Matariki Spectacular

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

19/06/2024 - 29/06/2024

Production Details

Ceated by Te Ohu / the Cast and Crew

Presented by The Tīwhas

Mānawatia a Matariki!

Fill up your wairua with dinner and a drag show, as The Tīwhas! – Dame Jthan, Slay West, Pania, and the fabulous newcomer Huh? Mama! – make their wintry return to Circa’s hearth. Let Aotearoa’s fastest growing girl group dazzle you with their unique blend of kapa haka, drag artistry and live vocals, complete with bilingual reimaginings of your favourite pop songs from throughout the decades. Backed by a talented live band, this show promises an unforgettable evening of fun, costumes, choreography and joyful celebration of te tau hou Māori and mana takatāpui.

Dinner and a show: a main meal is included in the price of all tickets.

In this fabulous theatrical reimagining of a Matariki feast these talented Queens will guide you through celebrating te tau hou Māori (the Māori new year) with signature Tīwhas flare. You’ll meet the stars, be whisked away by original Māori lyrics set to tunes you know and love, and share kai with your new extended whānau. A main meal is included in all ticket prices, just pick your meal of choice when booking or chat with our friendly box office staff to discuss your options. Starters, desserts and drinks are all available to purchase on the night from the Circa restaurant.

19 – 29 June 2024
Circa Theatre Restaurant and Bar
Tues – Thurs 7pm, Fri – Sat 8pm, Sun 6pm
$75 per person, includes a main meal*
$69 per concession, includes a main meal*
Audience care: mature themes

Te Ohu / Cast and Crew:
Ngā Tīwha: Dame Jthan (Jthan Morgan), Pania (Raureti Ormond), Slay West (Levi Waitere), Huh? Mama! (Te Hamama Hohua)
Ngāti Tīwha: Kree Matthews, Hayden Taylor, Tom Knowles
Ringatohu/ Director: Jthan Morgan
Hoahoa Rama/ Lighting Design: Marshall Rankin
Hoahoa Oro / Sound Design: Tom Knowles
Kaitito & Mātanga Reo / Lyricist & Reo Consultant: Bea Joblin
Hoahoa ā-ata & Toi Ataata / Design & Artwork: Jared Pallesen
Costume design: Sharon Johnstone, Creative Costume Show up, The Tīwhas
Set Design: Kate Anderson & Emma Katene
Te whakatairanga / Publicity: Tyler Clarke

Cabaret , Kapa Haka theatre , LGBTQIA+ , Musical , Te Ao Māori , Te Reo Māori , Theatre ,

110 minutes, no interval

Flamboyant, lush and absolutely rooted in truth, heart and love

Review by Jo Hodgson 22nd Jun 2024

Mānawatia a Matariki!

On a crisp Wellington evening with the full moon rising, I take myself off to Circa Theatre for The Tīwhas: A Matariki Spectacular.

The cabaret cafe, set up in the Circa foyer/bar, is already buzzing with an excited second night audience preparing for what is billed as a ‘fabulous theatrical reimagining of a Matariki feast with talented Queens who will guide you through celebrating te tau hou Māori (the Māori new year) with signature Tīwhas flare’ .

The Tīwhas! – Dame Jthan (Jthan Morgan), Pania (Raureti Ormond), Slay West (Levi Waitere), Huh? Mama! (Te Hamama Hohua) – are a Takatāpui* drag ‘collective’, who graced the stage for the first time in 2022 (some changes to the line up in 2024) and have found something of a niche in the Drag performance scene over the last couple of years.  *(A term used as a sexuality and gender identifier within Māori communities.)

A high-energy Drag Girl band entertaining through an eclectic mix of musical styles from pop, musical theatre, cabaret, waiata and Kapa Haka with roots firmly in Te Ao Māori with the integration of Te Reo Māori.

Matariki is a time of reflection and mindfulness, a time for responding to the present and a time for preparing for the future. Over the course of the evening, we are taken on a journey to the stars of Matariki with each star holding a certain significance over our wellbeing and environment as seen from the Māori view of the world.

From Matariki herself bringing hope and community; to the food baskets of Tupuārangi and Tupuānuku; the waters of Waitī and Waitā; the elements of Ururangi and Waipuna-ā-rangi; and for our wishes and aspirations through Hiwaiterangi and the releasing of those passed, with Pōhutakawa.
We share beautiful Kai (food) prepared by Circa Bar and Restaurant and we meet as strangers and leave as friends.

But this is no dry history lesson! It’s party time too!

Where else could we have a retelling of the Creation legend with songs like Queen’s, ‘I wanna break free’, Salt n Pepa’s ‘Push it’ and Limp Bizket’s ‘Behind those eyes’, to represent the separation of Rangi and Papa and Tāwhirimātea’s creating of the Matariki cluster.

There is so much layering in this show from Slay West’s hilarious cameo storytelling slot (a nod to the ridiculous societal fears of Drag Storytellers),  to the high-octane  all dancing, all singing  synchronised skill of these performers fabulously supported by Kree Matthews (vocalist), Hayden Taylor (Keyboard), and Tom Knowles (guitar, vocalist, electronics).

The te reo lyric rewrites of many familiar songs by Bea Joblin are important for the inter-weaving of our worlds. While I didn’t understand all the words, I felt like I did because of the performers storytelling prowess and the want in the room for everyone to be welcomed on this journey. 

Highlights for me are the full group harmony singing in He waiata Matariki; Pania’s ‘Colours of the Wind’; Dame Jthan and Kree’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ (Adele), ‘Sweet dreams are made of these’ with all the performers slaying with Poi; Tom Knowles’s original ‘Born of the River’ (guessing the title here) and Kree’s delivery of Lady Gaga’s ‘I’ll never love again’.

The moments of quiet and reflection are heartfelt and the importance of cultural rituals to return back to the performance zone are managed with beautiful care.

What I love about the Tīwhas is their ability to find the playful, the silly, the poignant and the human in everything. While delivering in the flamboyant Drag show-girl style, with lush costumes, big hair and eyelashes, everything is absolutely rooted in truth and heart, and love for themselves, their diverse community and culture.

Congrats to the whole team, The Tīwhas: A Matariki Spectacular is an informative and entertaining winter’s night out. 

Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori”


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