Topic: Youth

Waiora cast aim to spark discussion on suicide

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Whangarei Girls and Boys High Schools have produced a new version of the play Waiora by Hone Kouka. 

Set during the urban drift of the 1960's, it portrays the mental challenges faced by a young Maori girl when her connections to home are severed.  

The opening scene of the play portrays the ancestors of Rongo, a young girl bereft that her family are severing their ties to home in search of a livelihood in the city.

Due to public demand, the play has been redirected for its second season with year 13 pupils setting up their own theatre company, Wahine Works, to continue their pursuit of careers in the industry.

Phoenix Karaitiana who plays the character Rongo says, "It's going really good, we've done a lot of work towards Waiora with this company and we hope to be able to do more and take it further next year."

After a month where a number of Northland youth were lost to suicide, the cast of Waiora hopes the issues raised in this production will provide the spark needed to get the public talking about the issue.

Whangarei Boys High School Headboy Lance Baker who plays one of the ancestors of Rongo says, "The production gives a broad portrayal of some of the issues that lead to suicide including some of the European influences and foreign protocols that add pressure to the situation."  

Cast member Zahra Cherrington says, "I just hope that mental health is more talked about.  I'm really about pushing taking a stand on helping our friends and family."

The production premieres tonight and is sold out.