Play helps promote Maori language

By Alyson Eberle

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Rawiri Jobe and Regan Taylor perform a scene from interactive children's show, Ruia Te Kakano (to sew the seed), at Maungakaramea School for Maori Language Week. Photo/Alyson Eberle
Rawiri Jobe and Regan Taylor perform a scene from interactive children's show, Ruia Te Kakano (to sew the seed), at Maungakaramea School for Maori Language Week. Photo/Alyson Eberle

A groundbreaking theatre group is celebrating Maori Language Week with performances at local primary schools.

Four members of Te Rehia performed their interactive children's show, Ruia Te Kakano (to sew the seed), at Maungakaramea School on Monday afternoon.

An excited crowd of about 40 children and teachers filled into the school library to watch the performance and to learn some te reo.

"We really encourage our students to learn te reo," said school principal Kath Edwards.

"It's great that there are people who are willing to come here to spread their knowledge and teach the language."

Ms Edwards heard about the theatre group offering to do school performances and jumped at the offer.

"What a great performance to have right after our school holidays and a fantastic play for Maori Language Week," she said.

The four actors have travelled from Auckland to tour primary schools around Northland this week before they perform a different show at the Forum North next weekend.

Television actors Amber Curreen (Shortland St), Rawiri Jobe (Step Dave), along with fellow actors Regan Taylor and Ascia Maybury (Step Dave, The Almighty Johnsons) took the stage in hopes to teach a fun way of using and speaking te reo Maori. "We focus on normalising te reo for children," said Curreen.

The 40-minute show tells the story of a young fisherman (Jobe) who has his magic fishing pole and bucket stolen by a greedy neighbour (Taylor). The fisherman embarks on a journey, with the help of the story teller (Curreen), a helpful tree (Maybury) and the audience in order to get his items back and please the god of the sea.

"It's interactive, the kids in the audience can influence and help the characters in the show with their suggestions," said Curreen.

The three main characters in the play speak only te reo, so the story teller must teach the audience key words to say in order to help the cast finish the story.

"Te Rehia theatre is completely passionate about te reo," said actor Regan Taylor.

"It is our strongest driving factor- to make the language more accessible to our audience and New Zealand. We want to make it contagious."

Maungakaramea students were left laughing and eager to learn.

The show will also visit Otaika Valley School; Hurupaki Primary School; Totara Grove Primary School; Maungatapere School; Mangakahia Area School; Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Rawhitiora; Morningside Primary School; Raurimu Ave School and Ruakaka Primary School over the next week.

- Northern Advocate

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