A donation from Australian superstar Tim Minchin will allow a charity that works with youth at risk to expand its creative-arts-based programmes into South Auckland schools.

Started nine years ago, Ngā Rangatahi Toa (NRT) uses social justice and arts-based-programmes to connect with young people excluded from school and encourage them to stay in school or vocational training.

Minchin, the award-winning musician, comedian, actor and composer who wrote Matilda the Musical, chose NRT as the charity which will receive money from sales of tickets to Auckland concerts in April.

NRT executive director Huia O'Sullivan says Minchin's promoters provided an estimate of the amount which she won't reveal other than to say it's "not to be sneezed at".


"It will go back into the projects we run and, next year, we plan to roll out a partnership project with schools in South Auckland," says O'Sullivan. "It's an amazing gesture from Tim Minchin and we're just really blessed that he, as an artist, can understand and see the importance of having access to the arts for young people who may not otherwise be able to get involved."

Australian composer, musician and comedian Tim Minchin is donating money to local charities. Photo / Nick Reed
Australian composer, musician and comedian Tim Minchin is donating money to local charities. Photo / Nick Reed

Minchin told the West Australian newspaper that giving money away is part of being lucky.

"It's saying to the wealthier of my ticket-buyers ... you get the best seats in the house and all the money goes to charity, so you get a good feeling as well. It is important that people like me do our little bit to promote the idea that lucky people should have social responsibility."

In Wellington, Arohanui Strings-Sistema, which provides free music classes vulnerable children across the cities northern suburbs, will receive money as will Australian charities in the cities Minchin performs in through March.

O'Sullivan believes he picked NRT after speaking with Auckland Live, custodians of the Herald Theatre where NRT performs its annual Manawa Ora showcase. This sees youth paired with top New Zealand musicians, actors, writers and artists to create public performances of music, movement and monologue.

Because the Aotea Centre is closed for renovations, Manawa Ora 2018 is part of the Basement Theatre's spring programme. Now in its sixth consecutive year, mentors Laughton Kora, Cat Ruka, Suli Moa and Tama Jaram have worked with 15 teenagers on "Invisible Threads", the theme for this year's showcase.

It explores how young people navigate relationships and create connection by reflecting on the invisible threads that tie them to self, whānau and community.

"These connections, through reflections that form the invisible threads, are the transferable skills our rangatahi [young people] are able to replicate into their own lives, strengthening their protective factors and enhancing their resilience as they find their place in their whānau, community and world," O'Sullivan says. "Our role is to create the space for them to have their collective voices heard, shared and echoed."



What: Manawa Ora: Invisible Threads
Where & when: Basement Theatre Studio, Thursday, October 11 — Saturday, October 13

What: Tim Minchin Old Songs, New Songs, F ... You Songs
Where & when: Aotea Centre, ASB Theatre, Sunday, April 14 and Monday, April 15; Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre, Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19.