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REVIEW: The Haka Celebration Incident (Te Pou)


Pictures through Andi Crown

The Haka Celebration Incident explores a little-known act of resistance — when Māori activist team He Taua faced College of Auckland engineering scholars about their annual custom of acting a ridicule haka. For many years, Māori scholars and academics had complained in regards to the racist cartoon, which engineering scholars insisted used to be simply drunken amusing. However the nation used to be in the middle of trade, and after 1 Would possibly 1979 the mock haka used to be by no means carried out once more. 

Written and directed through Katie Wolfe, the display loved a sold-out season in 2021 and is recently on a six-centre nationwide excursion. I reviewed the display all through its premiere, making this my 2d viewing. Coming together with me to Henderson’s Te Pou theatre used to be my just right buddy Morgan Dalton-Mill (Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara), who used to be seeing it for the primary time. We kōrero in regards to the display and its have an effect on.

Anuja: We’re each College of Auckland alumni, even supposing we studied there about 40 years after the notorious haka celebration incident. Had you heard about it prior to attending the play?

Morgan: Āe — we coated it in considered one of my favorite college papers, Māori 130G, as a part of a broader kōrero about Māori resistance towards the Crown. In some way it used to be becoming that I discovered about it at the grounds the place the incident opened up. I hadn’t heard about it prior to then, despite the fact that in my ultimate yr of Historical past at highschool we studied the colonisation of Aotearoa. Did you find out about it at highschool?

A: No — I hadn’t heard about it prior to college (via a couple of throwaway references in a lecture). I don’t keep in mind being informed about He Taua, although, which makes listening to their voices on this display all of the extra essential. 

After I first noticed the display, it used to be at the sprawling level of the ASB Waterfront Theatre. You discussed that the theatre at Te Pou has the size of a wharenui. There used to be a basic surroundings of welcoming everybody into that house, permitting them to make a choice and settle into their seats prior to the play started about 10 mins after the scheduled get started time. How did the level, and bodily house extra extensively, have an effect on your revel in of the display? 

M: The Tokomanawa theatre has a prime ceiling, with two ceiling panels that meet the place the pou tokomanawa in a wharenui could be, and an enormous quantity of naked flooring house. So getting into the distance instantly made me really feel as although I used to be in a wharenui like the ones I’ve been to and stayed in. I assumed this used to be suitable for the reason that wharenui is the place essential kaupapa is mentioned, such because the kaupapa on the centre of this play. 

I lately went to the Kiri Te Kanawa theatre at Aotea Centre to peer an opera and I discovered the ambience extraordinarily other. On the opera we began precisely on time, despite the fact that folks had been nonetheless making their technique to their seats! There used to be extra of a separation between the target market and the performers because of the normal level setup on the entrance, which is what you are expecting from the opera. How did you in finding the Tokomanawa theatre in comparison to the ASB? 

A: I discovered the display robust on John Verryt’s set on the ASB, however perhaps extra so on his set right here. Katie Wolfe described Te Pou as “a dynamic house much like the Matatini level” by which the play is “perfectly suited to polish”, and I agree. 

Some of the participants of He Taua, Miriama Rauhihi-Ness (performed through Roimata Fox), says the goal of He Taua in going to confront the engineering scholars used to be to “occupy an area”. Being smaller than the level at ASB, I had a extra brilliant sense of who used to be dominating the distance and who used to be being driven out. We noticed the engineering scholars rampaging via it, using house their sense of entitlement: to the college, to the town, to Māori tradition. We noticed the display forcing them and He Taua to percentage that house, as they’re coated up facet through facet to recount their recollections of the incident. And we noticed the editor of the college mag interview Ben Dalton (Kauri Williams) quite off to the facet, as though to replicate Ben’s marginalised viewpoint — prior to Ben took centre level to handle the racism perpetuated through our establishments. The ones establishments were lurking there invisibly all alongside and Ben used to be calling them out. 

M: I consider Katie too. The level used to be an area with a grid on most sensible of it reasonably than a conventional level, so the actors weren’t restricted to acting inside the limitations of a suite or hidden at the back of curtains. I attended Te Matatini this yr and that level provides such a lot doable. There’s no top restriction and there’s so a lot room, permitting kapa to create patterns and shapes of their haka brackets the usage of numerous actions and ranges. This play embraced that doable.

A scene I assumed mirrored an impressive use of house used to be when the He Taua participants had been interrogated through the Police. They stood spaced out in the back of the room going through the target market, whilst the 2 Police stood on the entrance however with their backs to us. Because the participants recounted their tales of Police brutality, they stepped ahead into the sunshine. When the Police answered to every member, they stepped in opposition to the again of the room. 

I appreciated how the distance may well be anyplace: the Police station, the engineering college, AUSA area, any individual’s kāinga or a extra liminal house. Because the actors portrayed a couple of individual, it’s essential to additionally simply practice their transitions between “characters” as all they needed to do used to be trade their accessory/tone of voice/tempo/posture, as an alternative of the entire set. 

A: I agree; the Police scene used to be painful to look at. The best way lets simplest listen the voices of the Police whilst they confirmed us their backs in reality made me bring to mind the facelessness of racism. It’s now not simply an interpersonal factor; it’s embedded in our societal buildings. 

Your remark in regards to the a large number of characters brings me to the verbatim taste of the display. Its script used to be compiled from interviews Katie Wolfe carried out with quite a lot of folks impacted through the incident, and their phrases are without delay voiced onstage. What did you bring to mind this method? Did it make the occasions really feel extra original to you? 

M: Completely. I didn’t know this used to be verbatim theatre when I used to be looking at it however I realized that probably the most characters had such things as stutters and other accents which made the actors’ performances extra sensible. Now that I do know in regards to the methodology, I believe it’s an impressive and essential instrument for this play. Listening to those folks’s actual phrases helps what I imagine one of the most essential kaupapa of the display, which is to extend consciousness and training about this match. Experiencing the tale are living added a size {that a} TV documentary wouldn’t have — I felt like the individual used to be proper there explaining the placement to me.

Permitting the ones if truth be told focused on He Taua and the haka celebration to percentage their perspectives on (and in) their very own phrases revered the mana of every individual represented within the play. In my opinion, that’s extra impactful than paraphrasing folks’s phrases, which will undermine their lived reviews because of the possibility of false impression their views. What did you assume?

A: I utterly agree that the usage of their unique phrases revered the mana of the ones concerned. I additionally consider the documentary comparability. I don’t assume it’s essential to splice in combination contrasting views as successfully onscreen. You should reduce from the phrases of He Taua to these of an engineering pupil, however you couldn’t cause them to percentage the similar bodily house. 

I’d by no means watched a work of verbatim theatre and I assumed each and every actor carried it off impressively. There used to be a scene by which Lauren Gibson switched swiftly between about 3 other folks and it’s essential to inform right away who used to be talking. The tool lent the display a way of immediacy and, predictably, an overly human component to the discussion. It preserved each and every um and ah, in addition to the humour that may creep into folks’s accounts of even moderately critical occasions. I’m considering of Miriama and Hilda Halkyard-Harawira (Nī Dekkers-Reihana) guffawing about driving a bike to scope out the engineering scholars’ location. Had been there any moments, humorous or critical, that caught out to you?

M: As we mentioned, the Police scene hit me laborious. I had two realisations all through it: I hadn’t heard about this side of the incident prior to; and it used to be frightening how just lately this violent and unwarranted interrogation had befell. Nī Dekkers-Reihana’s efficiency in particular affected me. Nī used to be stoic whilst retelling Hilda’s tale, however used to be crying too (to which I answered through crying myself!)

Miriama’s phrases firstly additionally hit house: “Being Māori is one thing no person can remove from you.” Regardless of the continued trauma of colonisation — all of the lack of land, of tradition, and (now not utterly) of te reo Māori — Māori are nonetheless right here and nonetheless resisting. For individuals who whakapapa Māori, you might be Māori. I’ve been on a haerenga with my taha Māori ever since I used to be in number one college and I do know firsthand what it’s love to really feel whakamā about being Māori. Thru awhina and tautoko from whānau, pals, academics and others, I’ve embraced my whakapapa and I will be able to stand steadfast within the wisdom that I’m Māori, it doesn’t matter what any person else thinks.

A: We will’t communicate in regards to the display with out speaking in regards to the kapa haka! The kaiako kapa haka/kaitito haka used to be Nīkau Balme, who composed one of the most haka carried out. There used to be some nice comedy flowing from the engineering scholars’ butchering of the haka, however the only on my thoughts is no doubt the overall haka composed through Nīkau, He Taua. It used to be robust, too, to peer some target market participants carry out a haka in reaction.

M: That haka used to be a standout. Seeing it stuffed me with awe and pleasure. I’m no skilled in kapa haka or te ao Māori extensively, however I assumed He Taua used to be a lovely instance of a haka with kaha, ihi and wehi. It used to be at complete quantity and the making a song used to be out of this global. I loved looking at the taiaha used accurately all through this haka in comparison to the opposite parody haka through the engineering scholars. I used to be additionally overjoyed to peer Nī lead portions of this haka. It used to be a transferring technique to end a transferring play — I used to be in tears for such a lot of causes afterwards.

The Haka Celebration Incident performs Te Pou Theatre 1-Eleventh June 2023

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