Te Reo Māori and English are combining on stage as The Court Theatre’s newest touring primary school show He Kura Kōrero begins its bi-lingual tour this May.
The show, a musical and theatrical exploration of the gifts of Te Reo Māori, will be performed at over 40 schools throughout Canterbury during May and June.
The story follows three ‘collectors’ (Tola Newbery, Shea Kokaua and Olivia Parker) who, after gathering treasures from around the world, find their newest and greatest gift: Te Reo Māori.
The show is a love-letter to the language and questions how children and adults alike can utilize and treasure Te Reo Māori in everyday life.
For creators Holly Chappell-Eason and Rutene Spooner, He Kura Kōrero is their fourth time collaborating on a primary school touring show following Māui me te Rā; Matariki – The Little Eyes in the Sky and 2017’s Matatihi – Maia’s Journey of Bravery.
“This year’s show is different for us, because we really wanted to make it about the language. We wanted it to be about being brave and using Te Reo Māori in your everyday life,” said Chappell-Eason.
Helping advance that goal is Te Reo Māori Consultant Ani-Piki Tuari.
“What the creators and actors of this show are trying to do and encourage is the normalisation of Te Reo Māori,” Tuari said.
She thinks the show is particularly pertinent with the current discussion on whether Te Reo Māori should be compulsory in schools.
“This is an awesome way for children of all generations to see how cool Te Reo Māori is and see how it can be used in many platforms - not just in a classroom, but in a theatre space; in a song; in a conversation. It allows them to see that it’s not scary and that it can be fun if you allow yourself the time to be able to have a go.”
The cast, who have been devising and rehearsing the show at the Two Productions space at the Arts Centre, are excited to share their show with the children of Canterbury, and hope that their audience will take some Te Reo Māori away with them.
“This play might give you a beginning or a start place; somewhere to begin your journey with Te Reo Māori,” performer Tola Newbery said.
“Te Reo Māori is a part of our identity for a lot of people and it could become extinct if we don’t nurture it or put it into practise and encourage it in our everyday society,” performer Shea Kokaua said.
Helping educators tackle that task is an education pack provided to each teacher at participating schools. Full of activities and learning resources, the pack encourages schools to continue the teachings of He Kura Kōrero after the cast have left the building.
Beyond bringing the love for Te Reo Māori, the cast and crew will be bringing lot of laughter for Canterbury children this Autumn.
“The show is full of laughs, some pretty weird dance moves, a lot of music... And boxes,” laughed Kokaua.
For the He Kura Kōrero team, the joy has already begun.