Normalising te reo Māori in theatre

By Te Kāea
  • Auckland

Three young actors will join Rawiri Paratene in devising and interpreting well-known Māori myths and legends for second language learners of te reo Māori. One of the main goals of this project is to promote and normalise the use of te reo Māori in art forms created and staged at The PumpHouse Theatre in the North Shore, Auckland.

Storytelling is integral to Māori, it has this actor sharing his skills with the next generation.

Renowned New Zealand actor Rawiri Paratene says, “Story is who we are, it’s what tangata is all about, it’s what being a human being is all about.  I maintain that we cannot go one day without the story being involved in our lives and so I enjoy that kaupapa because I'm sharing stories with the tamariki.”

With only two days to workshop and reinvent four popular myths, these three students with their mentor are working hard to bring to life their favourite characters.

“We're looking at some of the old stories, we've been working with the story of Mahuika of Rona of Ruatepupuke and Pania and those are the 4 main stories,” says Paratene.

A project that requires these young actors to really quickly, with their native tongue.

Paratene, “The main part of this kaupapa for me is to bring as much reo as we can into the telling of the story to normalise the reo which is an ongoing kaupapa with a lot of our projects that we work on nowadays.”

Aspiring actress Darien says, “There's a lot of challenges learning te reo Māori I can’t speak Māori but it’s been fun learning and getting to learn the culture a bit more. It’s a good experience to get to learn a bit more of our culture and get to learn it with a really well-respected actor from New Zealand.

Male actor Kees says, “It’s like a different way of learning culture it’s like myths and legends which is different to learning the language and all the other stuff, it’s refreshing it’s good to learn the history.”

With their show being premiered tomorrow morning, these young actors do have a message they would like to share.

“I want to keep te reo Māori alive like amongst the youth, the youth especially because I think it’s important to learn, I personally wish I went to a kura kaupapa when I was younger just so I could speak the reo now but I think it’s important to everyone to have, even if you don’t speak the language, some sort of look into your culture because it’s important to stay in touch with it,” says Kees.

“What I want is for the little kids to go home and remember what they learnt during the performances and also hopefully they would want to go home and want to be like us when their older and do things like this to get our culture out there more,” says Darian.

Kōrero Pūrākau will be The PumpHouse Theatre's first Māori language production they have ever hosted and will finish on Saturday, September 10.