What a joyful privilege to experience week one of the Kia Mau Festival. I made it to six events. Visually gorgeous work with strong themes of connection/disconnection from culture, the necessity of transformation, and response to new situations building off the work of the ancestors. Each had layers referencing the past and future, woven through in order to highlight the present. Time was transformed. Shows were presented across the city, from Parliament to Te Whaea, in theatres and performing arts education institutions.  I heard at least four languages rising from the stage – music for the ears and the spirit. We laughed, we wept, we were challenged and emboldened to rise to meet it. 

What will week two bring us?

Breaking Ground at Te Auaha

A writing festival of ideas, crafted into life by playwrights from across Aotearoa. This year, the festival will be imagining new stories for the stage. Work will be shared at the end of the week.

Tinā at Te Auaha

TINĀ is a brand new work by groundbreaking collective TULOU. It invokes passion and heart through it’s fierce movement vocabulary that has roots in Pacific and Contemporary dance. Performed by a strong cast of women, TINĀ explores concepts of motherhood and mana wāhine. You will see bold and exciting movement, bright costumes and heartfelt moments shared between powerful women. You can expect to leave the theatre feeling exhilarated and empowered.

Upu at Circa Theatre

The power of Māori + Pasifika literature roaring to theatrical life.

The world of Oceania is not small. From the energetic volcanoes of O’ahu to the southern reaches of Aotearoa, she is borderless and vast – and growing bigger by the day. After decades of dismissal and disconnection, her children are closer than ever. It’s time for a reunion. Curated by award-winning poet Grace Iwashita-Taylor and led by powerhouse director Fasitua Amosa, UPU gives the stage to Oceania’s most electrifying poetry. Tusiata Avia, Audrey Brown-Pereira, Karlo Mila, Albert Wendt and more: UPU is for the trailblazers, the icons and the new writers transforming Aotearoa today.

Te Rongomaiwhiti at BATS Theatre

Four mokopuna descended from four Atua Māori are sent to the sacred school of learning – ‘Te Wānanga o ngā Atua.’ There they are to learn how to harness their ‘mauri’ – inner power and one day carry out the important roles of their grandparents as guardians of ‘Te Ao’ and ‘Te Pō.’

However, like all great powers there is also great responsibilities that they must learn along the way to ensure that everything is in unison and as it should be. This is the ‘Mana Atua’ qualities that they possess as individuals which when combined is more powerful than anything. However, each mokopuna has their own ideas and upbringings on how the world should be but that must all be put aside for the greater good of our realm. If not, then the world as we know and see it will diminish before our very eyes.

Suitable for all ages, ethnicities and languages. A fully immersed theatre production which fuses kapa haka, tikanga Māori, te reo Māori and influenced by a Māori World view all neatly packaged into a Māori theatre production.

He Tangata at BATS Theatre

Healing rongoa for generational trauma and loss of takatāpuitanga. A search for the forgotten taonga of Te Ao Maori. A reminder of oneness. This work dances through the realms of ira tangata and ira atua, exploring whakapapa and stories of takatapui existence, to remember, mourn and heal from generational trauma.

In an act to weave takatapui and Māoritanga back together, He Tangata looks backwards whilst moving forwards as we travel within the past, present and future of Takatapuitanga.

Daughter at Circa Theatre

A Black Moana Sovereign Story by Teremoana Rapley.

Get a rare glimpse into the creative world of frequency-bending polymath Teremoana Rapley as she presents a fluid multidisciplinary, work-in-progress, live performance, listening party of her anticipated debut album, Daughter of a Housegirl to be released in 2022. Manipulated black-centric still and moving visuals from the unreleased album coupled with bass-heavy tracks interwoven with sweet acoustic flamenco inspired incantations that sit within an evolving seasonal back drop adding to the tone and mood of her long-awaited work. Part one of a triptych series, this is Daughter.

O Le Pa’a Ma Ona Vae at BATS Theatre

On the eve of his return to NZ, a young man’s grandfather appears to him in the form of a crab to say goodbye.

Exploring alofa that transcends the confines of our perceived reality, and the different forms that that can take, O Le Pa’a Ma Ona Vae is a new work from Samoana Nokise about how our loved ones continue to be there for us, if only we look beyond the physical.

Te Wheke at Te Whaea

Artistic Director Jack Gray marks the 21 years of  Atamira Dance Company with the collaborative new work Te Wheke. 

The work brings together Aotearoa’s leading names in contemporary dance including Arts Foundation Laureate Louise Potiki Bryant, Dolina Wehipeihana, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Gabrielle Thomas, Kura Te Ua and Bianca Hyslop.

These eight choreographic practitioners, with a cast of eight dancers including Sean MacDonald, explore the dimensions of human experience symbolised by the eight tentacles of Te Wheke — the Octopus, a powerful guardian on this journey from past into future.

Solo and ensemble expressions of darkness and light occur within a shape shifting world of floating black silk. Layers of symbolism emanate through the magical AV patterning and mesmeric soundscapes with lighting enhancing all – both revealing and hiding.

Le Taua o le Pepeve’a at College of Creative Arts

In the 16th Century, the Pepeve’a, a kingly Samoan fine mat was bestowed to Fonoti by his father, launching sibling rivalry and a war over titles and the kingship. Fonoti was successful, became king, and the battle was known as “Le Taua o le Pepeve’a”.

Written by Fonoti Pati Umaga, this new music work is a nod to his heritage and the parallels with Fonoti’s own battles as a disabled Samoan musician advocating through the arts, for his beloved Pacific disability community.

Carve-Va: cypher series at BATS Theatre

A physical talanoa (exchange) between Street Style dancers while Kava is being served in the space – all are welcome to drink. With ceremony being embodied in tradition and in body, the ‘Carve-Va: cypher series’ invites audiences in to witness and feel the free-style physical offerings and talanoa between the Street Style dance artists, their body memory archive, our collective ceremonies and the Va that holds us all.

Breakfast With Hades at Te Whaea

World Premiere #breakfastwithhades

This is an album launch. But not as you know it.

With the release of her debut album Breakfast With Hades, up-and-coming musician MAA is emerging from her makeshift, multi-purpose bedroom studio to share some tunes with you all.

A one night only show, featuring a compilation of various art forms including dance & design, this is the launch of Breakfast With Hades.

Note: This is not a rave. Do not pre-load as you might fall asleep or cry uncontrollably.

Breakfast With Hades features loud music & coarse language.