First all-wāhine Māori stand-up comedy show for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

By Marena Mane

An all-wāhine Māori stand-up comedian lineup is part of the Auckland Fringe Festival this week with their show called, 'Shoes Off (at the door)', and it features five wāhine Māori comedians also known as the Māori comedy avengers.

The show will run for five nights across 'Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori', starting this week at the Basement Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau until this Saturday.

Janaye Henry (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Whangaroa) says the name, ‘Shoes off (at the door)’ came up over a brainstorming dinner with Kura Turuwhenua (Ngāti Porou, Kāi Tahu, Tūhoe, Moriori).

“A few names were thrown around but Shoes Off I think Kura, that was actually your idea, and was clearly the front runner of all the names. And then I put them in brackets because I couldn't work out what words should be capitalised and what shouldn’t so the capitalisation was to avoid having to think too hard about grammar,” Henry says.

Joining Henry and Turuwhenua in the lineup are Courtney Dawson (Ngāti Kuri, Waikato-Tainui), Charde Heremaia (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu) and Aunty Lianne (Ngāti Kahungunu).

“Kura was the first wahine Māori I ever gigged with and that was this year that we were on a lineup for the first time. So to me, it was just a no-brainer. I want to work with people who are lovely and I want to work with people who are hilarious and it's a magic vibe when the five of us are in the room - it’s something really special.”

Te reo vibe

According to Turuwhenua, the show’s debut will premiere coincidentally during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and incorporating Te Reo Māori into the show is something that comes naturally to all the wāhine.

“I think that what we actually believe is that Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori should be every single week, not just once a year,” Turuwhenua says.

This will be the first time for an all-wāhine comedy stand-up but Janaye believes wāhine Māori have always been funny but have never been in a traditional stand-up comedy setting, which can be male-dominated.

“We're very lucky that we're at a place where so many people have fought for so many of our rights for so many of us to be able to stand on stage now and kōrero. To be able to tell a little story about a date you've been on or something that happened to you is a really big privilege because the reason we can do that is because of far bigger kaupapa and fights that have had to happen.”

Shoes Off (at the door) will be held at the Basement Theatre every night at 8.30pm until Saturday and tickets can be bought here.