Topics: Arts, Child Abuse, Entertainment

Hone Kouka targets child abuse through latest theater piece

By Talisa Kupenga

Eight lives and three worlds collide through award winning playwright Hone Kouka's latest theatre piece Bless the Child, which will debut at this year's Auckland Arts Festival. The festival is a platform to confront urgent societal issues, Kouka is targeting child abuse.

A play born from a challenge put to the Producer from his mum.

Award winning Playwright Hone Kouka says "She basically said to me 'we are hurting our babies, you've got to do something about this as an artist' and so we came up with the idea that there has been the death of a child then three interlocking stories, all Māori, from all different parts of our society trying to solve who did this."

With an all Māori cast Bless the Child scrutinizes the issue of violence against children in contemporary New Zealand, telling the story through a Māori lens.

Kouka says "It's been talked about but we're just coming at it from a different angle. There is the film Waru and that looked at the immediate effects; this is actually after a period of time so it is not as raw for everyone, there is more korero about the debate of why and how we as Māori got to this point as well."

Director Mīria George says so far everyone exposed to the story leaves a different person.

"I think we're experiencing a shift in social values at the moment and it's a really pertinent time for Hone to present a korero like this where people can be challenged upon their prejudices and their perceptions."

Bless the Child premieres at NZ Festival February 28 until March 4.