From the screen to the stage and everything in between, actor Cian Elyse White has clocked up an impressive CV.

The Rotorua local is now determined to pour those talents into the burgeoning pool of actors in her hometown with the introduction of an indigenous performing arts festival.

Titled IHI Fest, the inaugural event will run from September 1-16, and feature play readings, workshops and a week-long production of Ngā Puke, a play by prominent playwright John Broughton.

White is directing the play, which stars Rotorua actors Kimo Houltham and Simone Walker.


"My directorial debut was in 2015 with Ngā Puke so it's really nice to be able to revisit the show with new actors and a whole new audience."

The play follows the story of Waru, a Māori farmer, and Angie, a pākehā nurse, who meet on a farm in Hawke's Bay on the eve of World War II.

When war is declared, the two are separated, meeting again in Crete where Angie is working as a nurse, and Waru is a wounded soldier.

IHI, an indigenous performing arts festival, is coming to Rotorua this September. Photo/Supplied
IHI, an indigenous performing arts festival, is coming to Rotorua this September. Photo/Supplied

"It's a beautiful story about the power of love and the pull of the land. It's cheeky and it's sweet, it's hopeful and it's heartbreaking.

"We have just started rehearsals and I cannot wait to share this with Rotorua audiences, particularly as the play's season falls during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori."

Cian graduated from Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School in 2009 and works as a professional actor, most recently appearing in the hit Australian drama 800 Words and New Zealand murder mystery show The Brokenwood Mysteries.

In 2017 she launched WAITĪ Productions, which produced numerous award-winning shows in Auckland.

The IHI Fest, also under the WAITĪ banner, is a way for White to utilise her connections with writers and actors in Auckland and Wellington and provide opportunities for Rotorua creatives.

"I am in the final stages of pulling the programme together and am very grateful to the Rotorua Little Theatre, The Princes Gate and Rotorua creative arts company Big Picture Minor Deets for their support so far."

Ngā Puke will be performed at the Rotorua Little Theatre from September 11-16.

A gala evening will be held on Tuesday September 11 with a director and actor Q&A following the show.

Tickets are available from