Māori playwright aims to shed light on Māori healthcare access inequities

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Written by Fran Kewene (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Whare), Barrier Ninja is a verbatim play that uses recordings to seamlessly weave a number of personal stories from doctors, patients, nurses, and professionals - all played by one actress.

Kewene hopes that this work, stemming from a personal experience with a family member,  will help to change the way the health workforce works within Māori communities.  

“Our Papa died when I was 13, of diabetes, and our people die about seven to eight years younger than our non-Māori community. So that’s my driver.”

The play has been adopted into the Hauora Māori medical curriculum at the Dunedin school of medicine at the University of Otago, and to date has been seen by more than 1000 medical students.

“I am hoping to continue to explore how we can use verbatim theatre as an interface for training our health professionals,” Kewene says.   

After receiving rave reviews at its 2018 "Kia Mau Festival" premiere, the play is heading for Tāmaki Makaurau.

“We are performing in June for four nights only, at the Herald Theatre.

“Lock it in whanau!”

Barrier Ninja will be on display June 19-21.