Sixteen Māori Playwrights Strut Their Stuff for Kōanga

2019 Kōanga Festival whānau, Te Pou Theatre presents
Kōanga Festival
1 – 6 September

From September 1-6, more stories and storytellers than ever will come together at Te Pou – Auckland’s Māori Home of Theatre – for a jam packed week to celebrate the annual Kōanga Festival. Now in its fifth year, 2020 will offer a compact programme themed around digging deep to challenge and change, in response to the impact COVID-19 had on the performing arts sector, proudly presenting an impressive collection of works.

Premiering as part of Kōanga 2020 with a full week run at Te Pou before touring to Northland is WHYTANGI?? – a cheeky bilingual collection of short plays by some of Aotearoa’s finest Māori writers. Albert Belz, Amber Curreen, Annette Morehu, Antonio Te Maioha, and Tainui Tukiwaho have each written an imaginative and satirical short work, responding to ongoing controversy over Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the impact to Te Reo Māori. Exploring our shared history, the perils of translation, and the ongoing impact of our treaty partnership for both Māori and Pākeha, director Tainui Tukiwaho leads a playful and fun exploration of these choppy waters, with co-directors Amanda Rees and Amber Curreen.

The performance programme also includes homecomings for two works which were first fostered within the Te Pou whare. Starting the festival is a one-night-only reading of Regan Taylor’s play MATE, presented in partnership with Playmarket on September 1st. A finalist for the Playmarket Adam Award 2020, MATE was first read at Kōanga Festival 2016 and follows the story of four Pākehā elders that are left in charge to run the tangihanga of their recently deceased friend Matiu. Te Haerenga o Hōiho, a magical Te Reo Māori theatre adventure for the whole whanau, also returns for two special showings on the Saturday of the Festival. Written and directed by Tainui Tukiwaho, and created by Te Pou Theatre in partnership with Te Rēhia Theatre Company, this charming journey of friendship, fun, and adventure will delight the smallest whānau members, suitable for ages 4 and up.

Committed to ensuring opportunities to stage new works, the celebrated Play Readings returns to the Kōanga programme for 2020. Wanting to support as many artists as possible, the annual initiative this year consists six new works by thirteen Māori playwrights, first beginning development in May while Aotearoa was in lockdown. An incredibly talented group of both established and emerging writers have been involved for 2020, who have been given a stipend to support them to create their work. The development of the works has also been supported by dramaturgy sessions and regular mentoring from award winning playwright Albert Belz, who will also lead a public workshop as part of the Festival programme. Four works from established theatre makers will be read in double-bill evenings in the Whakarongo Mai Play Readings, while the Rangatahi programme will be presented online, after the longest period of development in Kōanga history. The works and writers are:

  • Kūpapa by Nicola Kawana
  • Staunchies by Rutene Spooner 
  • Toitū by Jon Hunter & Justin Rogers 
  • Ruck and Maul by Ink Slingers (Jarod Rawiri, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Regan Taylor, Dahnu Graham, Tama Jarman, Antonio Te Maioha, and Taungaroa Emile)
  • Tatao by Acushla-Tara Kupe
  • Lipsync Kanikani Twerk Off by Te Huamanuka Luiten-Apirana 

Kōanga is a vital annual celebration of Māori storytelling across Tāmaki Makaurau, named for the time of year that aligns with ‘spring’, Kōanga traditionally a time of joining together and combining efforts to plant for the next harvest. Kōanga Festival shares the kaupapa of the season as a chance to enjoy the richness of Auckland’s Māori theatre scene, outside the crowded Matariki period. Embodying the literal meaning of its name ‘the support post’, Te Pou has cemented itself as a place where tikanga Māori led arts management is practiced for artists to develop and present their work, proudly cultivating the Festival into a supportive hub of creativity for five consecutive years.

1-6 September

Te Pou Theatre – Auckland’s Māori Home of Theatre
2 Mount Lebanon Lane, Henderson, Auckland

Tue 1 Sep
MATE by Regan Taylor (play reading), 7pm – koha entry

Wed 2 Sep
WHYTANGI Opening night 7pm – tickets available via Eventfinda

Thu 3 Sep
WHYTANGI Performance 7pm – tickets available via Eventfinda
Rangatahi Play Readings: Tatao &  Lipsync Kanikani Twerk Off – launched online at 7.30pm

Fri 4 Sep
WHYTANGI Performance 7pm – tickets available via Eventfinda
Whakarongo Mai Play Readings: Staunchies 6pm & Toitū 7.30pm – koha entry

Sat 5 Sep
Te Haerenga o Hoiho, 10am & 12pm – koha entry
Whakarongo Mai Play Readings: Kūpapa 6pm & Ruck and Maul 7.30pm – koha entry
WHYTANGI Performance 7pm – tickets available via Eventfinda

Sun 6 Sep
Te Maara – Auckland Māori Performing arts sector hui

Kōanga Festival is supported by Creative New Zealand, Foundation North & Auckland Council

WHYTANGI also plays:
Te Ahu Centre, Kaitaia: Wed 9 & Thu 10 18 Sep, tickets available via Eventfinda
ONEONESIX, Whangarei: Wed 16 – Fri 18 Sep, tickets available via Eventfinda