"There's something very special about engaging with nature at night and walking as one," Sara Brodie said.
A distinguished director, choreographer and Kāpiti resident, Sara has spearheaded the creation of Hīkoi Marupō-Walking As One, a multimedia performance set to take to the forest stage of Ngā Manu at the end of the month.
"The lockdown was the catalyst for me to get cracking to create an event which could operate under level 2, and serve a dual purpose of getting performers working again and audiences confidently engaging with performance and out into our incredibly beautiful environment," Sara said.
Contacting Matu Booth, the manager at Ngā Manu, together they walked through the reserve with Sara's ideas slowly growing, her imagination sparked by the wildlife and clearings and grottos along the reserve's loop path.
With her works being performed at most major New Zealand festivals and internationally, working with the NZSO and RNZB, and as an Arts Foundation Laureate in 2015, her work spans multiple disciplines including theatre, dance, opera and multi-media productions.
"Imagine a magical night journey by torchlight, through ancient forest where the audience encounters music, story and dance.
"The show is specifically designed for people to engage with the environment and performance."
The event brings together a collection of Aotearoa's finest performers with music created by multi-instrumentalist Riki Gooch of Trinity Roots and taonga pūro artist Alistair Fraser who combine forces with baroque vocalist Pepe Becker.
Staying at Ngā Manu for two nights, Riki recorded the sounds of the sanctuary at night, with the music created built on the music of the sanctuary.
Alongside the music, AJA Ropata will welcome the audience with a mihi whakatau written by Ben Ngaia with the storytelling magic of Apriana Taylor and aerialist Chloe Loftus woven together with the visions of Sara and her design team Elizabeth Whiting from Weta Workshop, Allan McShane, and Nils Melchert.
"We are using local performers to be our birds of times past haunting the bush."
Ngā Manu manager Matu Booth said the show has been inspired by the natural world of Ngā Manu.
"The forest at night will be a completely new experience for most people, and by adding the element of performance it will be transformed into a special treat for our imaginations.
"We will all be guests of the forest for a brief moment of magic."
The event is also an opportunity to show the reserve in a different light.
"This event sees us reaching out to another audience.
"It's another pathway to the goal of strengthening the connection that people are able to have with the natural world.
"Hopefully this will spark a different relationship with the world of the night-forest for many in the audience.
"We want everyone to experience a sense of magic and of wonder and are hoping it will fire the imaginations of children and adults alike."
This event has been crafted and designed for all ages and abilities.
The paths throughout are wheelchair and buggy accessible and the event can also operate in level 2 conditions, allowing people to maintain social distancing, yet to walk as one connecting to the natural world.
It will be on from April 28-May 2 with two performances per night at 6.30pm and 7.45pm.
Tickets are $25 for the 55-minute performance, $75 for a family of four and $20 for concession holders and Friends of Ngā Manu.
The performance has been put on with support from Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Kristie Parata, Creative New Zealand, Food Folk group at Olde Beach Bakery and Longbeach Tavern and Creative New Zealand.