Log In

Reset Password

Young thespians enjoy telling tale

After an intensive seven-day drama programme a group of specially selected Aurora leaders performed a play last night giving their take on the story of the first encounters between Maori and European in Tairawhiti.

Te Tangi a te Matui - The Cry of the Bush Wren was the result, a slick production performed to a full house at Gisborne’s Unity Theatre.

The Aurora Education Foundation’s drama extension group met each Friday for the past seven weeks to write and workshop their ideas.

The students were chosen for their collaborative, writing and performing skills, said director Michelle Hall from Makaraka School.

The play is based on stories from local iwi and the journals and biographies of James Cook, botanist Joseph Banks and Tupaia.

“The process of developing this story comes from oral retellings from local experts, various texts and waiata,” Mrs Hall said.

“We had invaluable help from Albie Gibson and Todd Sheridan and Keita Ngata, and the writings of Dame Anne Salmond and Joan Druett.”

The play was narrated by a chorus of ancestors/wairua of Turanganui and through flashback and role play. They incorporated movement and waiata.

Manutuke School’s Reremoana Papunui-Hohepa said she had enjoyed the learning and new friendships she made through the drama programme.

Jacqueline Kennedy, from Central School, who played Captain Cook said she had liked learning about Maori culture.

“When I did the Heritage Trail with my class, I knew a lot more than I thought I would because of what I’ve learned here.”

“I liked working together with different people I didn’t know and learned a lot about my history,” said Kaea Henwood from Manutuke School.

Nikau Rudge from Sonrise School, who played one of the narrators, said he liked meeting the other students and working together.

The students presented Mrs Hall and assistant director Kelly Utting with bouquets to thank them for the hard work and effort that went into helping them create a play from scratch. The entire cast and crew were then presented with certificates to acknowledge the work they had put in over the past seven weeks.

Aurora Education Foundation executive director Sunny Bush said she was delighted with how the extension programme had gone and acknowledged funding from JN Williams Memorial Trust which had made it possible.

FIRST ENCOUNTERS: Primary school students perform Te Tangi a te Matui, a play about the first encounters between Maori and European in Tairawhiti which they created from scratch as part of an Aurora drama extension programme. The students were split into three groups and each had a role in portraying the story. The props were made by students from Makaraka School and principal Hayden Swann supported the school’s specialist music and drama teacher Michelle Hall in taking on the role of director. The group was made up of 22 students from 11 Gisborne primary schools. Picture by Liam Clayton