NASDA Theatre, E Block, CPIT, Christchurch

29/09/2014 - 01/10/2014

Production Details

This premier production of Toia is an amalgamation of Maori Performing Arts and Contemporary Theatre.

Toia incorporates elements of haka, theatre and dance, while presenting a strong female perspective on the Maori migration, which we rarely see and hear.

This fictional story follows ‘Hine’ with her voyage to Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.

Rutene Spooner, a familiar face to Christchurch theatre leads an all female team of actors, dancers and kapa haka performers.

An intimate performance, Toia is a story of love, loss, triumph and belonging; one which we can all connect to.

“Whirira nga taurahere tangata kia pakari ai te iwi.”


Rutene Spooner


NASDA Theatre at CPIT, E Block, Madras Street


Mon 29th September – Wed 1st October at 7.00pm & 9.00pm


70 minutes


$15 from Dash Tickets  or ph 0800 327 484, booking fees apply.


70 mins

An intimate and captivating story

Review by Jess Probert 01st Oct 2014

Toia is a beautiful mix of contemporary dance, theatre, and haka that comes together to form an intimate and captivating story.

As you walk in to the theatre you notice the backdrop; a white curtain, lit very slightly with a wash of pale blue. You also notice the smoke drifting in and out of the light, creating the image of fog, or mist. Music is playing, telling stories of the ‘people of the land’, setting the scene for the story that is about to be told.

The use of live music in Toia is very prominent. The sense of community is created in the beginning of the show through the use of singing and chanting, as well as unison movement while the dancers are seated cross legged on stage. During the show, you notice that there is someone sitting in the far corner of the stage, almost in the audience, providing the drum beats along with most of the soundtrack to the show. The drumming becomes a motif throughout Toia, and you begin to recognise that the loud, deep, and booming drums create a sense of fear and urgency within the show and you find yourself being swept up in that emotion as well because the live drumming echoes through the room and becomes overwhelming. It is certainly very effective, and you feel as though you are witnessing the journey of these women as is it happening. Haka is also used in Toia, and these moments in the show really illustrate the strength of this group of women and as their voices echo around the theatre you realise the power that people can have when they come together.

Toia follows the journey of the four characters as they voyage to Aotearoa, but for me it follows much more than just that journey. As the relationships between characters emerge, and you become familiar with the way they all work as a community, coming together to overcome various obstacles and how they interact with one another. One very clear relationship emerges and becomes particularly prominent during Toia, between two of the characters, whether this is a strong friendship, or an intimate relationship, the connection between the two characters becomes a focus. You find yourself being carried away by the journey that the two of them embark during the voyage. A standout moment being what seemed to be part of a dream that the two of them shared. All four dancers sit down on the floor, very relaxed, and close their eyes. The lighting changes from a very natural daylight feeling to a slightly ethereal blue, a dancer rises slowly and begins to move around the stage using light footed jumps and turns, looking to the sky and using hand gestures that imitate plucking stars from the sky. Another dancers rises and takes her by the hand and tries to pull her down as if she is frightened that she will get caught. Eventually, both of the dancers are moving around the space together, smiling and laughing as if this is what they are longing for; the freedom to be together and dance among the stars. This is the part when the closeness is really illustrated and you feel as though you are witnessing an intimate moment shared between two individuals amongst the days of obstacles and hardship.

Toia sweeps you away on a journey of community, relationships, and of loss and how we come to terms with it. Toia really brings to light the importance of having a strong support group surrounding you, whether that be friends or family, to be the base that you can rely on to work with you, and be there for you whenever you need them, whether they be the times of triumphs, new beginnings, or times of loss when the support around you is what pulls you through.


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