Superhero set to show off skills

By Mike Barrington

The young man who dived into a roadside drain to retrieve a distressed damsel's dropped car keys has joined with three other talented Whangarei teenagers in a bid to conquer the world.

Ritchie Brown was dubbed a superhero when the Advocate reported he got back the keys Ruakaka teacher Jenny Sergeant dropped into a Whangarei drain on March 12.

Unknown to the newspaper, Brown was at that time working with three other 16-year-olds - Dominique Carrick, DJ Brereton and Su-young Seo - on a stage show called 4 Star Whetu Wha - Go Camping.

The teens, who each possess different superpowers in the show, dance their way through conflict with the wicked Captain Cheats, played by experienced Whangarei actor Tania Lewis, while Alex Hannan plays the part of Honour, a fan of the young superheroes who tells the audience what is happening on stage.

There will be three performances of 4 Star Whetu Wha - Go Camping at Forum North in Whangarei on June 7 and three shows at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri on July 4.

The Northland show will then hit the road, performing in Auckland, Wellington and around the South Island before tackling Australia and China.

Taitokerau Talent producer Shelly Matiu, of Whangarei, who came up with the concept and leads the team which put the show together, believes 4 Star Whetu Wha has the potential to rival the Australian-made children's music group The Wiggles in popularity.

Ms Matiu said The Wiggles was basically a rock band encouraging random movement, while 4 Star Whetu Wha had more disciplined movement reflecting the classical training of its young stars.

Kamo High School student Seo plays Spinerella, a ballet-dancing superhero who can move at great speed. Brereton, from Pompallier Catholic College, plays SuppG, a hip-hop dancer who can jump so high he seems to fly.

Carrick, also from Pompallier, is Ginja, a martial arts expert with magic hands. And Brown - who left Kamo High last year - is Waariki, leader of the superheroes and a kapa haka performer gifted with the power of time manipulation.

Ms Matiu said 4 Star Whetu Wha was also more educational for children than The Wiggles, with English used for live stage performances, but te reo Maori dubbing available on DVDs.

Entry to the Whangarei and Kerikeri shows will be by koha. To reserve seats, email

Brown's good samaritan feat extracting dropped car keys from a drain was typical of his super-generous nature.

"He's given to random acts of kindness, especially to older people," his mother, Anita Brown, said.

"If he sees an elderly person whose car has broken down, he always stops and offers to help."

Brown sings and plays drums, guitar, piano and saxophone.

Unemployed since leaving school last year, he is receiving agricultural and horticultural training and is also working hard on projects that hold promise of a stage career.

He has worked on the short film Little Rascals which director Issac Bell is now completing and he is also involved in a Maori performing arts course run by Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Brown appears enthusiastic with life, enjoying his jobseeker training along with his artistic pursuits.

"I'm just trying to get some life skills under my belt," he said.

- Northern Advocate

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