Circus meets symphony in Ngāi Tahu creation story
Dance, circus and Māori martial arts are woven together with music performed by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in a new show telling a distinctly South Island creation story.
Manu Lee Syme-Hepi plays Tāne in Tūmahana which has its premiere at the Christchurch Town Hall on 27 March.
Artistic Director Juanita Hepi (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Wheke), a University of Canterbury (UC) Master of Education graduate and current UC Children’s University Manager, says her goal is to bring to life on stage a creation narrative that is particular to Te Waipounamu (the South Island) but also universal.
The story was first written down by Ngāi Tahu rangatira, Matiaha Tiramōrehu in 1849. In that same year, the tribal leader also wrote the first formal statement of Ngāi Tahu grievances against the Crown regarding South Island land purchases.
Hepi, an actor, theatre producer and former primary school teacher, says the cross-over between storytelling and politics is appropriate.
“It shows how legal rights and structure and stories can be intertwined and are just as important as each other. In the same way, we’ve brought together a whole lot of different performance disciplines in this show because they’re not separate and they all relate to one another and contribute to the story as a whole.”