- The Forge
An age-old Ngāi Tahu love story, set in the waters of the Arahura river, comes to life. He Kura e Huna Ana traces the tragic love story of the beautiful Waitaiki and her husband Tamaahu who are torn apart by Poutini, the taniwha.
This stunning modern interpretation of the old Māori legend is presented entirely in te reo Māori and presents a dual narrative: the origin myth of pounamu and a modern-day story about a young woman who must find a way to deal with the issues and mounting pressures that face her, practically and spiritually.
He Kura E Huna Ana enriches both narratives, demonstrating that strength comes from an acknowledgement of origins and connections with loved ones and ancestors.
He kōrero tahito tēnei o Ngāi Tahu, o te awa tipua o Arahura, o te pounamu. Ko He kura e huna ana he kōrero e ruku ana i te aroha mutunga kore o Tamaahua mō Waitaiki, ā, i kahakina e Poutini te taniwha.
Ko te reo te kaupapa, ko te tūāpapa o te kōrero tahito ko te pounamu. Koia te whakawhenumitanga o te ao o tuawhakarere ki te ao hurihuri nei kia whai hua ai ēnei kōrero a ngā tipuna. Hei arataki hoki i a Hine i roto i ngā tini putanga kētanga o te wā. He mea mihi a He kura e huna ana ki ngā kōrero tuku iho hei ārahi i te tangata mā te ako, te mau, te whai i ēnei kōrero.
The Forge is proud to host Māori theatre company Taki Rua.
Approximate running time: 75 minutes
Christchurch audience embraces sold-out Taki Rua te reo theatrical offering
Watching a play presented completely in te reo was an eye-opening experience for me. Armed only with my first year uni course in te reo and a two-page glossary folded into the programme,
I was able to identify little more than key words in the fast paced dialogue. My lack of comprehension did little to dampen my appreciation and enjoyment of a unique theatrical feat.
There are two intertwining storyline threads in He Kura E Huna Ana. One takes place in the here and now, with final year medical student Hine dealing with the grief of the loss of her parents and twin sister in a car crash on the anniversary Friday their death. Finding her partner Tau has forgotten this important date, she turns to her ex-boyfriend Tini for support, only to find he still holds hopes of a romantic relationship with her.
The second storyline emerges when Hine heads to her Taua (grandmother), who tells of Poutini the taniwha. Hine soon finds herself caught between reality and myth.
It is testament to the talent of the Taki Rua team that I could easily follow the action, and empathise with the characters’ emotional journeys. That said, fluent te reo speakers will take away much more from the dialogue. I was tempted to lean forward and ask the aunties sitting in the row in front of me for clarification when I saw them laughing raucously at a joke, but the actors’ gestures made me blush, so I decided against it.
This is a touring production, so the set is sparse and the sound is produced onstage by the cast and live musician Sheree Waitoa.
The actors are always in the audience’s view, changing characters on the side of the stage. While these decisions may have been borne of necessity, the effect is wonderful. Water bottles are slowly shaken in front of a microphone to create the river, voices add to the atmosphere, and Waitoa’s versatility is evident in her mastery of a range of instruments.
The highlight occurs as the play moves towards its dramatic climax, and Waitoa spins a purerehua (a traditional Maori instrument that creates a sound as it is spun through the air). Waitoa’s transitioning between guitar and traditional Maori instruments echoes Hine’s movements between the present and spiritual realm.
This is a brave departure from other shows Taki Rua has toured, which deal with issues relevant to Aotearoa and tangata whenua, but are primarily spoken In English.
By creating a show entirely in te reo they risk alienating mainstream audiences. Thankfully this appears to have been a risk that paid off, as evidenced by the appreciative opening night audience (complete with roaring standing ovation) and sold out Christchurch season.
Nga mihi, Taki Rua.
– Review by Ruth Agnew for What’s Up NZ