The silent ones: a new generation of Māori mimes

By Aroha Mane

(l-r) Mimes Justin Haui, Jarod Rāwiri and Tama Jarman (Source: File).

When you think mime, you might imagine Charlie Chaplin.  It might be news to you that there are Māori getting into the art form.

Three mimes from White Face Crew are performing the French play La Vie Dans Une Marionette - Life of a Puppet. 

There's no speaking, it's left to the eyes, hands and body to tell the story of a unique friendship. 

Life of a Puppet is about a young pianist who is lonely as his only companion is the moon, which disappears every morning.  That is, until a magical puppet arrives, bringing surprises and giggles at every turn.

Justin Haui brings the puppet to life in the play.  He says, "We do a little bit of miming, we do a little bit of clowning,'s about this pianist who loves to play piano he has a friend that he brings along this puppet and they have a bit of a connection going on and it's a bit of fun times I must say"

Tama Jarman performs in the lead role of the pianist.  He says he was inspired by his favourite role models, "Taika{Waititi}, [Charlie] Chaplin, and Rāwiri [Paratene].  I love Charlie Chaplin, I loved his way of filmmaking and the physical side of things, very little speaking and slapstick comedy." 

"I love Taika Waititi and what he's done with filmmaking at the moment, getting that real New Zealand sense of humour, that Māori sense of humour alive and on the big screen for many people to see," he says.

Jarod Rāwiri, who plays the moon, says, "As Māori and Pacific audiences we're really clear about body language, we've got waiata-ā-ringa, siva and stuff and it really makes sense to people when they see our work." 

For the actors, it's about bringing comedy and laughter into a place of silence.  Your last chance to watch the play will be this Saturday at the Herald Theatre.