The Kingitanga through a Japanese lens

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Tao Kinjitanaka, a bilingual production by Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga is on tour, taking the story of the Kingitanga to younger audiences around the country.

It tells the story of how the Kīngitanga was formed in a new light.

Director of the production, Ora Kihi says, “It's important to us to take it to the regions where the chiefs, such as Te Kani a Takirau, were from.”

The theme of Tao Kinjitanaka ('The Swordmaker') draws on the feudal culture of the Samurai as a comparison for the various Māori chiefs of the period when the Kīngitanga movement was formed.

Kihi says, “The kids like these things and if they like it they will comprehend the story.”

Watching the play, Manaia Aupouri of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Uri a Māui says, “Even though it draws comparisons with the people of Asia, it's directly related to te reo Māori.”

Based on true events, the story depicts the journey of Matene Te Whiwhi, who travelled the land to various tribes in search of a leader for the Māori King movement.  The title was eventually bestowed upon Potatau Te Wherowhero of Waikato.

Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga student and actor Te Korama Kihi says, “I like this because it is history, it's education, its experience.”

Playing Te Kani a Takirau, Tuteari Te Rauna-Lamont says, “The request came to Te Kani, to go to Waikato to be the King, but his response was 'my mountain does not move'.”

An annual production is held at Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga with different themes each year.  However, this is the first time the performance has been taken on tour and involved other students. 

Rākaumangamanga student and actor Maapihi Rapana says, “We bring students from other schools and work together to put the production together.”

“It's amazing, it's good to see our friends and relatives in there,” says Aupouri.

The production will be performed in Rotorua on Wednesday.