Play puts spotlight on suicide

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

For thirty-five years Taki Rua productions have contributed to the development of Māori theatre. Now they've released a play entirely in Te Reo Māori, specifically for an adult audience.

The play merges a traditional account with modern-day struggles.

 “He Kura e Huna Ana,” is a Māori language play which is putting the spotlight on suicide.

Lead actor Te Puawaitanga Winterburn, (NgāPuhi, Ngāti Raukawa) says one of the objectives is, “to highlight the aspects of suicide and show that these may be the type of thoughts of those who are suffering from this illness.”

The script weaves together traditional language with modern sayings to entice the audience.

Actor Nepia Takuira Mita, (Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Rangiwewehi) says, “To show everyone the beauty of our language, and to encourage youth and show them they can pursue careers in theatre.”

Written by Hohepa Waitoa (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata) and directed by Nancy Brunning (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe), the play illustrates a traditional tale of love, loss, and depression and draws comparisons with similar issues in a modern context.

Takuira-Mita says, “To look at the lessons that can be learned from our ancestors and let them be a foundation for today, to escape the darkness and enter the world of life and light.”

“You can't change the past, but love will see you through,” says Winterburn.

The play is embedded throughout with the sound of traditional Māori instruments.

Behind the music is Sheree Waitoa (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata) who plays the traditional Māori flute, the Māori Butterfly and the guitar.  She says, “My hope is that if you don't understand the words you can gain an understanding through the music."

The play runs in Auckland until Saturday before being taken to Hamilton and then New Plymouth.