Zahra Cherrington, Waiora cast member, and director Bill Walker (back) are hoping to raise $40,000 to bring the play to Wellington. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Zahra Cherrington, Waiora cast member, and director Bill Walker (back) are hoping to raise $40,000 to bring the play to Wellington. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Whangarei youths who blew audiences away with their powerful performance of a play which tackled mental health and colonisation have been invited to perform in Wellington.

But they need to raise $40,000 in three weeks or they can't go.

Waiora - The Homeland, written by Hone Kouka, was the graduation show put on last year by the Whangarei Girls' High School (WGHS) Year 13 students.

It initially started as a class assessment but evolved into a popular show which was brought back for a second season.

Advertisement

Now Mr Kouka himself has invited the cast and crew of Waiora - many of whom have now left school - to open Kia Mau - a prestigious Maori and indigenous performing arts festival in Wellington.

Zahra Cherrington, cast member and ex-WGHS student, said it was an incredible opportunity.

"We will not only be a main act, performing on a premier Wellington stage during a huge event, we will be mixing with the country's biggest names in Maori theatre, dance, film and television."

Phoenix Karaitiana playing Rongo in Waiora last year. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Phoenix Karaitiana playing Rongo in Waiora last year. Photo/Michael Cunningham

But to bring the production to Wellington, Wahine Works, a production company of the ex-WGHS students, is trying to raise $40,000 to cover the venue, accommodation, transportation costs - including getting the set and cast and crew of 20 to Wellington, promotion, and technician fees.

Although the show is in June, the money needs to be raised by Easter so Wahine Works can confirm its attendance.

The timing doesn't fit Creative New Zealand's main funding round so a Givealittle page has been set up.

"This is a good place to invest in the young. I wouldn't be taking it down there if I didn't think these girls were up to it. They're fantastic. They have moved audiences," said Bill Walker, director of Waiora.

Mr Walker said the invitation to open the Kia Mau Festival came by chance.

He was in Wellington checking out the Hannah Playhouse venue in January after Taki Rua theatre company suggested Wahine Works bring the production to Wellington.

He visited Taki Rua to see what support they could offer and while there Mr Kouka walked past.

"They said, 'Look who it is, what good fortune'. He came and sat down and they said, 'Hi, this is Bill, he's bringing your show down' and he went silent.

"I thought 'he's not going to give us the rights' and he said, 'Would you come in June, you can be in the Kia Mau festival.' "

Mr Walker said yes.

He said they would have loved to set up the fundraising page earlier but there were lots of boxes that needed to be ticked beforehand.

Most of the cast and crew - including the Whangarei Boys' High School students who were part of the show - would be going to Wellington.

To donate visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/waiora-to-wellie