The Ragged has left the building – but we’ll be back!

The cast of The Ragged at Te Papa, January 2015 - final scene
The cast of The Ragged at Te Papa, January 2015 – final scene

And so down comes the curtain on another short, mad, and intense Te Rākau Theatre season in the sandpit.  Words cannot express how grateful we are for the assistance of Te Puni Kōkiri, WCC, Ngāti Toa, Massey University, and Te Papa. Without the collective efforts of these organisations, we would not have made it to opening night – nō reira, kai te mihi, kai te mihi. Fingers crossed that getting the second play Dog&Bone up and running later this year will be a smoother journey…Finally, to the wonderful audiences who attended The Ragged, thank you for spending some time with us in 1840, and sharing your responses, reflections, and feedback. Kia ora rā!

The underTOW at Te Papa in 2015

Te Rākau Theatre with support from Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangātira, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Te Puni Kōkiri presents ‘The underTOW’ – A quartet of plays about the settlement of Wellington – past, present and future

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua – Man disappears but the land remains.


Te Rākau Theatre Company is excited to announce a new series of plays to bring Wellington’s rich history to life, with support from Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangātira, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Te Puni Kōkiri.

In support of Ngāti Toa’s residency at Te Papa, Aotearoa’s longest surviving Māori theatre company, Te Rākau, will present their work over the next three years at the museum, taking audiences on a journey into Wellington’s past, present and future with writer Helen Pearse-Otene’s quartet of plays about the settlement of Wellington – The underTOW.

The series, beginning in 1840 and concluding with a look into the not –so- distant future, offers a uniquely Māori perspective on the city’s history and the ordinary people who achieved the extraordinary.

The project is a special one for Jim Moriarty, of Ngāti Toa descent, who along with Jerry Banse formed Te Rākau in 1989. Jim has spent decades working throughout Aotearoa and around the world as an actor and director. Here in Aotearoa he and Te Rākau remain dedicated to supporting communities through the company’s marae-based theatre programme.

“This series of plays about the settlement of Wellington, starting with The Ragged in 1840, has always been a passion of mine and Helen’s – to unravel our collective history to better grow our understanding of each other; the diverse cultures that make up Aotearoa today, but in particular, the stories of our Māori and Pākehā ancestors. 

The underTOW series at Te Papa, the home of our national taonga, and in conjunction with Ngāti Toa Rangātira’s residency, provides a perfect opportunity to venture beyond historical amnesia and look at some truths about our collective and sometimes murky past.” Jim Moriarty

In her research for the series, Pearse-Otene drew on local stories, including a mixture of diary entries and letters by settlers. While the plays themselves are works of fiction they are deeply rooted in history and the sentiments of the times in which they are set.

“Although I consider Wellington to be “home” this town is still a mystery to me in many ways. I am often amazed by the old stories that are hidden beneath the surface of this shaky ground waiting to be uncovered – stories that speak of uncertainty, struggle, misunderstanding, resilience, and hope. To me, the underTOW series is a love letter to Pōneke and to the treaty that made this country.” Helen Pearse-Otene

The series begins in 1840 with The Ragged, which explores early relationships between settlers, the New Zealand Company and the Tangata Whenua.

Part 2 – Dog and Bone is set in 1869 during the second Taranaki campaign of the New Zealand Wars and gives insight into the origin of the negative stereotypes that are perpetuated about Māori.

Part 3 is Public Works, set during World War I when the Public Works Act was used to build schools, churches, public buildings and war memorials, but also to alienate Māori from their lands.

The final instalment is The Landeaters where we face the day after tomorrow.

Te Rākau Theatre looks forward to welcoming a diverse audience to Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre over the coming years to laugh, cry, learn, forget, understand, appreciate, challenge and, most of all, participate in Wellington’s history.

The Ragged – Opening tomorrow!



“No matter. I am here. Safe and well at the ends of the Earth. Far away from England’s thumb. A man does not need a paper to start anew. A man needs only a strong will and good land to break to it. And if you are right, savage boy, and this land is unclaimed territory then I shall take it – by Right of Discovery.”

Or so the newly arrived settler Samuel Kenning thinks. Too bad for him that there are people already living in Ōwhiro Bay,  the newly baptised Chief Te Waipōuri and his people who have no intention of leaving the land. Then there is his grumpy daughter in law, and the ambitious missionary who refuses to help free the lonely Pākehā slave – why?

The Ragged follows the struggles of ordinary people desperate for a better life in Port Nicholson (Wellington) in 1840. It is the first instalment in our longterm project called the UnderTOW – a series of plays that tells the story of our country’s dynamic history – the story of us.

Venue: St Orans College, 550 High Street, Lower Hutt.                                                 Dates: 22nd July – 26th July                                                                                           Times: 6.30pm                                                                                                                  Prices: Adults $20/Students $15/ Children $7.50                                                         Bookings: Tickets through or Lower Hutt I-Site (A service fee may apply) – Door sales available

Matinee performances 22nd – 25th July at 1pm. Seats are limited so bookings are essential. Contact us at or call Jim Moriarty on 027 443 9250 for Matinee bookings.

The Ragged


The savages are coming to a theatre near you – if you live in the Hutt Valley, that is….

In partnership with St Bernards and St Orans Colleges, Te Rākau is proud to present The Ragged, at St Orans College, from 22nd-26th July 2014. Set in 1840, The Ragged follows the experiences of both Māori and Pākehā as they struggle to survive in 1840s New Zealand, and make sense of their relationship that has been newly forged by Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Ragged was first performed in 2010, and is the first play from our underTOW series. This is a short season, so get your tickets quick from, and let the wonderfully keen and talented young cast take you on a journey about the birth of our capital city….


The Battalion – celebrating Ngāti Toa at Te Papa!


No lights, no entry fee, just good solid New Zealand theatre!

To celebrate the opening of “Whiti Te Rā! The story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira” at our national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Rākau will present 2 shows only of The Battalion, at 1pm on the 14th and 15th of June, 2014 at the Marae. On Sunday 15th between 3-5pm there will be pop-up open rehearsals of scenes from our next show The Ragged. Te Rākau is proud to be supporting Jim’s Iwi as they begin their 3 year residence at Te Papa, and look forward to working with Te Papa and Ngāti Toa in commemorating their epic story.

He mihimihi ki ngā kura tuatahi o Pōneke…

E whakawhetai ana te whānau o Te Rākau ki a koutou ngā Kura, ngā Pouako me ngā Akonga i whai wāhi ki tā mātou hōtaka Kapa Haka o tērā tau. Kāre e kore, ahakoa he wā poto, he wā tongarewa. Ki a koutou ngā tamariki: ahakoa nō hea, ahakoa ko wai, he rangatira mō āpōpō koutou. Nō reira, kaua koutou e wareware ko te reo rangatira me te mahi a te rēhia he taonga tuku iho mō ngā tamariki katoa o Aotearoa. Kia kaha, kia pukumahi, kia harikoa i ngā mahi katoa i te kura, arā, Tama tū, Tama ora, Tama noho, Tama mate! Mauri ora!


At the end of the school year, schools participate in a junior Kapa Haka Festival.
Wellington Junior Schools Kapa Haka 2013
Nepia and Kamaia Takuira-Mita deliver our schools Kapa Haka programme - Ka rawe e hoa mā!
St Bernards School (Brooklyn) perform at Owhiro Catchment 2013

I now declare Pūtahi Festival 2014 open – let the games begin!

Whiu! Last night, Te Rākau and Tawata warmed up the floor at Vic’s Studio 77 with the opening night of The Battalion, and preview of the beautiful ones. Mean as food and coffee from Dean’s Kai Cart, and a beautiful amphitheatre to hang out with guests, performers and whānau (family). A big mihi (thank you) to Victoria University for hosting us, and another mihi to our lovely audience – spread the word, Whānau. We’re performing for  1 week only. Door sales available, just roll on up – nō reira, kia tere – nau mai, haere mai!


Māori Battalion march to Victoria (University, that is)

battalionflyerputahiTe Rākau presents a moving story about friendship, loyalty, madness and redemption – seen through the eyes of a Battalion veteran, and relayed to his wayward young charges. Sent back to their Whānau in the ‘one cow town’ of Tamariri, George and Rimini aren’t interested in any of the locals or their family history – they just want to get back to the city.

It was the same for five young men in 1939. Drawn by the excitement of war, they run away to the army and join the 28th Māori Battalion. Thus begins their adventure of a lifetime, from their training in England to their first encounter with the enemy in Greece – to one fateful night in an olive grove in Crete.

Jim Moriarty directs a passionate and talented cast of young New Zealanders in a performance that will stir, inspire and educate audiences.

E neke, Pōneke – come on Wellington, get your marching boots on and join us at Studio 77, Victoria University, Wellington for the opening night of The Battalion.


The Battalion returns!


Te Rākau’s tribute to Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū (28th Māori Battalion) returns this February, in our inaugural Pūtahi Festival! The Battalion tells two stories: the first about five young men who swap 1930s rural New Zealand for a life of adventure and heartbreak, and the other about their descendants who face a very different war on the Home-front. The Battalion stars veteran actorJim Moriarty, and newcomers Vanessa Kumar (The Ragged), Sandy Milesic (Dog&Bone), and Matt Dussler (Dog&Bone). For more information about tickets and showtimes, check out