THOROUGHLY MODERN MĀUI – TE MĀUI O NAINEI

Knox Church - The Regent Theatre, 17 The Octagon, Dunedin

20/10/2022 - 20/10/2022

Pipitea Marae, Thorndon Quay, Wellington

14/09/2022 - 15/09/2022

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

22/10/2022 - 22/10/2022

Emporium of Scintillating Wonders, Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton

29/02/2024 - 29/02/2024

Dunedin Arts Festival 2022

Te Hui Ahurei Reo Māori Festival

Nelson Arts Festival 2022

Production Details


Written and performed by Rutene Spooner
Music from Rutene Spooner, Te Aihe Butler & Tim Shacklock
Directed by Matariki Whatarau

Presented by Metro Māori Productions & PANNZ


AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND TOUR September – October 2022

DEMIGOD, WARRIOR, AND NOTORIOUS TRICKSTER:
Māui returns to the stage in Aotearoa, complete with a four-piece band

Aotearoa is in for a treat of legendary proportions this Spring as Thoroughly Modern Māui – Te Māui o Nainei hits the road for a nationwide tour. A modern retelling of the legend of Māui, written and performed by Rutene Spooner with a four-piece band, this cabaret extravaganza mines the myth to explore the challenges facing modern Māori in Aotearoa – complete with rhinestones and glitter. The show was an instant hit when it premiered at the 2021 Auckland Live Cabaret Season, and the 2022 tour sees Spooner take the man, the myth and the legend to audiences across Aotearoa from September – October 2022.

Many moons ago, a superhero of a different kind ruled this side of the Pacific.
His name was Māui-Tikitiki-A-Taranga – MĀUI.

A demigod, a warrior and a notorious trickster, Māui is the man who fished up Aotearoa from the depth of Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa, wrestled the power of fire from the goddess Mahuika, and slowed the passage of the sun god Tama-nui-te-rā to bring his people the gift of daylight, before meeting his demise in the clutches of Hine-Nui-Te-Pō in a failed attempt to gain immortality for mankind. His epic achievements are legend across the Pacific and, to this day, children grow up in awe of his great deeds. Forget Thor – Aotearoa has its own superhero, and he doesn’t even need the Taika treatment!

Originally developed in partnership with Auckland Live, tackling a saga of this scale is not an easy task, but Spooner was determined to take on the legend with his own distinct style, commenting that, “This show is a very ‘Māui’ way of speaking playfully to some fairly tough issues that we as Māori face in the modern world. I reckon, it is not only exciting, but important that we get to share it with the wider communities of Aotearoa.

Rutene Spooner (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Iritekura, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngai Te Ruruki, Ngāruahine, Ngāti Haua) is originally from Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa, Gisborne, and graduated with a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Music Theatre in 2009. Since graduating, he’s appeared in numerous mainstage musicals and productions including Auckland Theatre Company’s Billy Elliot the Musical (2017), CHICAGO at the Court Theatre (2018), the Australian tour of Jersey Boys (2018-19), and Taki Rua’s 2021 tour of Sing to Me. In 2017, he premiered SUPER HUGH-MAN – which toured across Aotearoa and won Spooner an Excellence Award at the 2017 Auckland Theatre Awards.

Featuring an original script from Rutene Spooner, direction from Matariki Whatarau, music from Rutene Spooner, Te Aihe Butler & Tim Shacklock, and costuming by Tina Thomas, Thoroughly Modern Māui is a full-scale cabaret extravaganza, and an unforgettable night of song and storytelling at the theatre.

The content and witty presentation of each original waiata is what makes this performance so memorable and unique among the current musical theatre scene of Aotearoa. Following the simple use of a tīpare and wig to transform into his ancestor, Māui, Rūtene launches into song telling of his adventures and thoughts.”– Theatrescenes

The 2022 Thoroughly Modern Māui Tour kicks off in Te Whanganui-a-tara Wellington as part of Tāwhiri’s Ahurei Reo Festival, then heads to Māoriland Hub in Ōtaki, before returning to Tāmaki Makaurau to wow audiences in a return to this year’s Auckland Live Cabaret Season, also as part of Te Pou Theatre’s Kōanga Festival. Following the Auckland return, the show heads to Whakatāne and Te Matau-a-Māui as part of Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival before crossing the Raukawa Moana (Cook Strait) to play Dunedin Arts Festival in Ōtepoti, and Nelson Arts Festival in Whakatū.

Presented as part of PANNZ’s touring programme, Tour-Makers, the show is also a part of a new Māori touring network initiative led by PANNZ Kaiārahi Māori Dolina Wehipeihana, who comments that “PANNZ is partnering with five Māori-led presenters and kaupapa Māori events to pilot a new touring pathway.  Our goal is to build more opportunities for Māori artists to tour their work, by working together, and centering Māori artists, audiences and organisations.

Limited tickets are available, get your friends and whānau together and get booking for Thoroughly Modern MāuiTe Māui o Nainei, coming to a centre near you in 2022!

Metro Māori Productions & PANNZ (Tour-Makers)
Thoroughly Modern Māui – Te Māui o Nainei
Written and performed by Rutene Spooner
Aotearoa Tour
September – October 2022

TE WHANGANUI-A-TARA | WELLINGTON
Presented as part of Te Hui Ahurei Reo Māori Festival
Piptea Marae & Function Centre, 55-59 Thorndon Quay, Pipitea, Wellington
14 & 15 September
More Info & Tickets

ŌTAKI
Māoriland Hub, Ōtaki
17 September
More Info & Tickets

TĀMAKI MAKAURAU | AUCKLAND
Presented as part of the 2022 Auckland Live Cabaret Season & Kōanga Festival
The Wintergarden, The Civic
24 & 25 September
More Info & Tickets

WHAKATĀNE
Little Theatre, Whakātane
05 October
More Info & Tickets

TE MATAU-A-MĀUI | HAWKE’S BAY
Presented as part of Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival
Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre
16 October
More Info & Tickets

ŌTEPOTI | DUNEDIN
Presented as part of Dunedin Arts Festival
Knox Church, George Street
20 October
More Info & Tickets

WHAKATŪ | NELSON
Presented as part of Nelson Arts Festival
Theatre Royal
22 October
More Info & Tickets

Hamilton Arts Festival 2024

Direct from their national tour, the award-winning ‘must-see’ (Stratford Press) cabaret finally hits the mighty Waikato this summer!

Join ‘Aotearoa’s next big entertainment star’ (Theatreview) Rutene Spooner as he summons the cheek, charm and splendour of his ancestor Māui – the Māori superman – by pulling tricks from the past to navigate the challenges of today.

Filled with quick-witted original songs, hard-case antics and heartfelt storytelling, this ‘hour of power’ musical extravaganza is “Māori humour at its finest, funny, cheeky and truthful” (Theatreview).

Emporium of Scintillating Wonders, Hamilton Gardens
Thu 29 Feb 2024, 8:30pm–9:30pm

Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa


Director – Matariki Whatarau
Dramaturge – Kate Prior & Renee Lyons
Writer/Performer – Rutene Spooner
Music – Te Aihe Butler & Rutene Spooner
Costume – Tina Thomas
Executive Producer – Metro Māori Productions Ltd
Production Partner – Pilot Productions


Te Reo Māori , Theatre ,


Funny, heartfelt, confronting, welcoming, flawless – and needed in the current climate

Review by D.A. Taylor 01st Mar 2024

In the smoke-filled Emporium of Scintillating Wonders stage, at the Hamilton Gardens, Rutene Spooner takes the stage with his four-piece band to whoops and applause. Within the opening bars of his first song, Rutene has the audience rapt – and the magic of Thoroughly Modern Maui carries on even after the encore.

Describing himself as the “illegitimate love child of Shirley Bassey and Prince Tui Teka,” Spooner channels Māui-Tikitiki-A-Taranga (Māui) via a bedazzled jacket and the rich tenor voice that has wowed audiences on both sides of the Tasman. A chance to take on cabaret from a Māori perspective, Thoroughly Modern Māui is a love letter to cabaret, mythos and identity, an accessible exploration of racism and language, and a ripping hour of comedy, music and storytelling that needs to be seen.

Spooner welcomes his audience in with his opening song before uniting his audience as a “show whānau” and explaining our need to draw inspiration from real-life super men and women to get us through – and so he turns to Māui, asking how he can become a the modern-day Māui he needs to be. From there, the songs and kōrero take us through the foundations of the Māui mythos, the ways in which Spooner has formed and reclaimed his name and identity, the challenges of being dressed in words and assumptions based on his clothing and speech.

Special highlights include the waiata about racial profiling by security guards, disguised as a doo-wop love song; the challenges of being a contemporary Māui facing trials of Lego on the floor; and supermarket trips. At times, Spooner becomes a Billy T James uncle (complete with towel on his shoulder), channels Sir Howard Morrison’s smooth baritone and crescendos into the range of the 80s rock god’s power ballad. It’s formidable, compelling and shows Spooner’s impressive range as a singer and star.

Spooner is described as a “burgeoning musical theatre star”, but if the powers that be see this show, then I reckon that he will soon, and deservedly, be able to cut the “burgeoning”.  Spooner’s CV is already well decorated: a graduate of the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) in Christchurch; leading roles at the Pop-Up Globe; tours across Australasia (including Jersey Boys, Chicago, Billy Elliot). His original show Super Hugh-Mana tribute to film and theatre star Hugh Jackman –emerged in 2017 and toured in 2019, offering Spooner a chance to explore the solo cabaret genre.

In some ways, Maui explores the same themes as Super Hugh-Man: a semi-autobiographical life story built around a mythic figure that influenced Spooner’s life for the better. But Maui goes further – bigger, wilder, funnier, more heartfelt, more urgent – for an unforgettable show that deserves to be seen by many and cause Spooner to become a household name.

As the night goes on, Spooner locates his strength in being himself – not catching the sun, as the legend, but changing his own tides and winds – and encouraging others to look to others as legends in their own right.

Thoroughly Modern Māui is funny, heartfelt, flawlessly performed, confronting and welcoming, and precisely what’s needed in the current climate. The show has gained extra pertinence, given a coalition intent on making Te Ao Māori something to be left to history. In this context, a show about finding strength in Māori identity is more important and affecting than ever. I’m gutted that there was only one show at the Hamilton Arts Festival/Toi Ora Ki Kirikiriroa – it seems our city was the last, having been missed from national tours due to Covid.

Follow Spooner closely, catch the next season, and take your whanau. Thoroughly Modern Māui is faultless. 

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Māori humour at its finest, funny, cheeky and truthful

Review by Grace Ahipene Hoet 15th Sep 2022

A well deserved standing ovation greets Rutene Spooner’s Thoroughly Modern Maui – Te Māui o Nainei.

Kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka – the kumara never speaks of its own sweetness, so I will.

Ngati Porou & Ngaruahine Actor, Singer & Comedian, Rutene Spooner is a entertainment force to be reckoned with. His dynamic performance and powerful voice oozes with ease. He holds his audience in the palm of his hand, totally engaged in the magic that he weaves.

Tongue-in-cheek oneliners fall easily from his mouth he is the self-proclaimed “love child of Shirley Bassey and Prince Tui Teka.” Charismatic and comedic he has us roaring with laughter and inently listening to his valuable commentaries of histroical trauma.

His magic with Māori humour is enthralling. His cheeky, mischief, haututu ways bring Maui to life. With a twinkle in his eyes and a mullet wig later, Rutene Spooner transforms into our shape shifting Maui Tikitiki-A-Taranga: half – God half Man.

This “Thoroughly Modern Maui” takes a contemporary approach to a Māori  super hero, half man, half God, Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, Maui-Pōtiki, Maui te whare kino he is known through out Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa. The trickster, the shape shifter, the many different adventures of Maui. Tonight, his appearance in a mullet wig has great comic effect.

His delivery of a one-of-a-kind mihimihi would have the kaumatua on the Marae rolling in the aisles. His incredibly clever korero, performed with a microphone and mic stand as his tokotoko stick, is delivered with the aplomb and finesse of a great orator showing his whaikorero prowess. All is accentuated and wrapped up in an eloquently presented whakapapa of Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, down through the lines of Rongotope, Poutupari, onto Paikea and then Porourangi settling on his uri Rutene Spooner.

This is Māori humour at its finest, funny, cheeky and truthful with deeply serious issues founded in historical trauma affecting modern Māori today. The messages ring loudly with lyrics like “Black Bold & Beautiful –  I want my Goodie Oodie Oodie Oodie profiling hoodie”.

Although we did not experience the traditional Maui purakau korero that most people have come to know, what we did receive was Rutene Spooner’s modern Maui: a spectacular Super Hero performance wrapped up in Te Reo Māori me ona Tikanga.

It was wonderful to hear and share fresh raucous laughter filling Pipitea Marae. But always remembering beneath the laughter is deep messages of historical trauma of Te Ao Māori in a modern world.

Playfulness and creative communication are all instrumental to an artiste’s unique style. Spooner remains himself inside his material; this is his magic, his signature in performance.

All done with a twinkle in his eyes, which i haven’t seen since the days of Prince Tui Teka & Dalvanius Prime, Spooner is supported beautifully by the band ‘Pork Bones and Harmony’.

Having dragged my reluctant 16 year-old mokopuna to the show, who had the teenage audacity to tell the Festival Director prior to the show how “Bored” he was, he exclaims at the End of Show, “Wow, I didn’t want it to end, can we go again? He’s coming to Otaki!”

Not often do I rave about a performaner but Spooner is Aotearoa’s next big entertainment Star: a powerful charismatic anthem performer.

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