Return to the River is a new musicale fushion by Rākaumangamanga School that tells the journey of Te Puea Herangi in establishing Tūrangawaewae. It will showcase at the 11th Coronation of King Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII this week.
Main actor Maapihi Rapana says Princess Te Puea Herangi was an icon, a champion who sought sustenance for her people.
"We really want people to understand the suffering our ancestors experienced and the great passion Te Puea had for her people. What I learnt was to keep hold of our Māori culture and the customs of our ancestors."
Behind every great leader is great support.
"I play Tumokai in the play," says actor Te Manapouri Wera.
"He is a man who upheld the mandate of King Mahuta to take care of Te Puea."
Return to the River tells the journey of Te Puea Herangi in establishing Tūrangawaewae Marae for the King movement through sci-fi fantasy and Māori performing arts to capture the imagination of the young and old.
"We incorporated ideas from the blockbuster Avatar. That resonates with children. If children are interested, they're more likely to learn. All the choreography was by the students," says Wharekura teacher and director of the production Ora Kihi.
"You see the connections with the East Coast such as (Sir) Apirana Ngata, but we've changed his name to Aperian and names such as Pootatau Te Wheria Redcloak to engage everyone."
The first show will take place at 7pm at the wharekura and tomorrow night at the same time. The production will also be performed at Kimiora dining hall at the Māori King's Coronation on Sunday evening.