…is the fusion of therapeutic models, ngā mahi a Rēhia, and political theatre – in particular, Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Brecht’s Ensemble Theatre – wrapped up in Kaupapa Māori.
Theatre Marae challenges popular assumptions of conventional New Zealand theatre values, and works to demystify Western theatre forms as a valid tool for Māori artistic, social, and political expression. Theatre Marae projects are not limited to mainstream theatre spaces, but can be carried out in residence format in alternative settings, such as prisons, youth residential centres, schools, rural and urban Marae. Participants in a Theatre Marae programme engage in two processes that run concurrently: a collective therapeutic journey of discovery, and the creation and production of a theatre show. The final public performance outcome is run in accordance with Tikanga Māori, and is framed by the familiar symbols of engagement on the Marae.
Te Rākau delivers a range of products derived from its experience in Theatre-in-Education, Community Theatre, Drama as Therapy, contemporary and traditional Māori Performing Arts, as well as from key staff members’ training and experience in Mental Health and Psychology, Applied Performing Arts, Professional Theatre and Māori Studies. Te Rākau upholds the right of all New Zealanders, Māori, Pākehā, and Tauiwi to engage in processes that cement their belonging to this land.
Kapa Haka – or traditional Māori performing arts – is an intrinsic element of the New Zealand cultural experience. Kapa Haka is an institution which brings together all forms of Maori performing arts and culture, and a homegrown activity through which participants can express their uniqueness as New Zealanders.
As a result of working with disenfranchised young people – whether in mainstream, alternative education, or in CYF residencies – Te Rākau has become a staunch advocate for the teaching of te reo Māori to all New Zealand school children (Māori, Pākehā, Tauiwi) as their birthright. To that end, Te Rākau has established a Kapa Haka programme for schools in Wellington City that covers the fundamentals of traditional performance and games, as well as introductory level te reo me ngā tikanga.
Theatre Marae in Schools – Drama in Education The theatre environment challenges students to develop skills in a variety of areas, including: lateral thinking, spatial awareness and coordination, text analysis, self awareness and presentation, resilience, time management, and inter-personal communication. Te Rākau collaborates with schools to engage their students and wider school community in a Theatre Marae project. The outcome is a high quality school production and enriching experience for audience members, performers, technical crew, and their families; furthermore, with school support, students may also achieve NCEA credits.
Takawaenga – Facilitation As a Kaupapa Māori organisation, Te Rākau is guided by Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840), focusing its infrastructure and operations to reflect the Treaty’s principles of: protection, participation and partnership. In its internal operations and external work in the arts sector and the wider community, Te Rākau advocates for these principles for all New Zealanders whose interests are represented by the original signatories. Te Rākau provides external cultural supervision and mediation services, and also facilitates drama and Treaty workshops for tertiary providers, government departments, and organisations.