Awards for Maori theatre

By Sonya Bateson


Although winning awards for a Maori Shakespeare production was "fantastic", the producer says te reo Maori was the real winner on the night.

The Maori production of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, which translates in Maori to Toroihi raua ko Kahira, took home a raft of awards at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in Wellington on Sunday.

The production was translated by te reo Maori expert Te Haumihiata Mason and instead of being set during the Trojan Wars in ancient Greece, the production portrays two warring tribes - Taroi (Troy) and Kirihi (Greece) - during classical te ao Maori (the Maori world).

Rotorua's Jamus Webster with Art Foundation laureate winner Rachel House shared the Best Director of the Year Award and Shona Tawhiao won Best Costume Award.

Production company Ngakau Toa's Rawiri Paratene also won the Production of the Year Award.

Producer Grace Hoet said receiving an award was fantastic, but the real winner on the night was te reo Maori.

"It's the first time a te reo Maori production ever won anything like this, it's a big bonus for te reo to be promoted in this manner. It's wonderful to see the amazing crew and cast work really hard to get to the level we achieved at the awards - it's really humbling to even be a part of a production of this nature."

The cast and crew were made up of a large contingent of Rotorua people including Ms Hoet and Mr Webster, plus Scotty Morrison who played King Agamemnon, Kimo Houltam who played the lead role of Troilus and Whatarangi Flavell who played Paris.

Ms Hoet said it was a great thing for Rotorua to have such talent on board.

"Performing is just something that Te Arawa and Rotorua do naturally. Shakespeare is a whole different realm, even translating it into Maori it uses classical Maori language, which is very different to what is spoken today. We were very blessed to have a stunning cast."

She said the production was also supported by many Rotorua people, such as a number of different kura that brought students up to Auckland to see the production live and the people who came to see their whanau members perform.

Ms Hoet said the production was grateful for the generous support given by Wetini Mitai, Ngati Wahiao Land Trust, Haparangi Trust, Nikolasa and Potaua Biasiny-Tule of TangataWhenua.com, Nubi Searancke of Searancke Catering Ohinemutu, Mike Jonathan and Taharangi Marae.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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