Bilingual show aimed at South Island-based children

A bilingual show aimed at primary schools explores te reo Māori as a gift using musical and theatrical performances. He Kura Kōrero run by the Court Theatre is being performed at over 40 schools around the South Island. The only aim is to encourage the normalisation of te reo Māori in everyday life.

"I'm not a language expert, but I was an actor, a performer, a theatre-maker who possesses te reo Māori so it was an inevitable thing to be thrown into that project," says co-director Rutene Spooner.

The project has been going for four years starting with an adaptation of Māui me te Rā. Before He Kura Kōrero, having te reo Māori in the show was just a prerequisite. This year, however, Spooner says this year they want to put te reo Māori at the forefront of the piece.

"It's about the gift of speech, treasuring te reo Māori and that's what makes this one the most challenging one but the most rewarding show of the previous four years."

The show 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 creators and co-directors Holly Chappell-Eason and Spooner describe the piece as a love-letter to the language questioning how children and adults alike can utilise and treasure te reo Māori in everyday life. 

Actor Tola Newbery told Kawekōrero that it was a personal journey for him. "I can be an advocate and encourage people to start introducing the language in their conversations, and perform in te reo Māori for South Island-based children," says Newbery.

The show tours throughout schools in Canterbury during May and June.