Māori performing arts centre opens in West Auckland

By Will Trafford

Te Pou Theatre is a kaupapa Māori driven one-of-a-kind performing arts centre in West Auckland. Photo/ Supplied

A new $3 million, one-of-a-kind purpose-built Māori performing arts venue has opened in West Auckland, with a mauri ceremony and kapa haka from former national champions, Te Roopu Manutaki,

Te Pou Theatre is kaupapa Māori driven and will provide a performance and rehearsal space for indigenous creative artists.

One of the first such venues worldwide, organisers say it will be the home of Māori theatre in Auckland.

Around 200 people weathered the rain this morning to support the traditional dawn ceremony celebrating the opening of the new $3 million facility.

Enthusiasts of stage and screen including Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand, Dr Hinemoa Elder, Te Rauhiringa Brown, Maaka Pohatu and Jarod Rawiri, were joined by MP Kelvin Davis.

“We know everybody may not want to be an accountant or a lawyer. A place like Te Pou gives an opportunity for our people to follow in their heart’s desire.” Davis said.

Te Pou Theatre was established in 2015 initially in Auckland’s New Lynn before moving to its current location at the Corban Estate Arts Centre in Henderson.

More than 13 organisations donated funds and resources including Ngā Mātārae, Auckland Council. Foundation North, Lottery Community Facilities, The Trusts Community Foundation, and Manatū Taonga Regional Cultural and Heritage Fund.

"It’s so important to have a place to stand, a place where you are not the other and where the whare runs on values that make sense to your culture,” Co-founder, Amber Curreen says.

“Te Pou is a place of belonging for the Māori community where our people feel like it’s their kind of place, which is so often the case with venues.”

The first play to be performed at Te Pou is Hemo is Home, a comedy about a young child’s relationship with his dead relatives at an urupā (cemetery).

Public Interest Journalism, funded through NZ On Air