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He kupu mō mātou

About Te Rākau

Te Rākau Hua o Te Wao Tapu is Aotearoa New Zealand’s longest surviving independent Māori theatre company. We are guided by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


Today, Te Rākau is led by director Jim Moriarty and writer Helen Pearse-Otene. They use Theatre Marae processes to create theatre productions, run workshops and build health within our communities.

Our Theatre Marae programme is a fusion of therapeutic models, ngā mahi a Rēhia (Māori games and past times), and Western political theatre delivered in a kaupapa Māori environment.

We communicate and collaborate with communities to create and present high quality and socially significant theatre works which resonate culturally, therapeutically, and artistically for audience members and participants alike.

We have worked in schools, prisons, Marae, urban and rural communities, and youth justice residencies across Aotearoa, using Theatre Marae as a tool for change. 

Te Rākau is a registered Charitable Trust.

Tāne members of Te Rākau. Photo by Tabitha Arthur 2019
Wāhine members of Te Rākau. Photo by Tabitha Arthur 2019

Ō mātou kōrero
Our story

Te Rākau was established in 1989 with a trust deed inherited from the Māori Theatre Trust.

The company began life as a space for the voices of the dispossessed, with roots planted firmly in Māori activism of the 1970s.

Our co-founders Rangimoana Taylor, Gabe Giddens, Rameka Cope, Gerry Banse and current director Jim Moriarty wanted to continue the vision of that early organisation: for Māori to be in control of telling their own stories.

We were led on this path by the elders of Ngāti Toa at Takapūwāhia Marae, and our name was gifted to us by Jim's aunty, Harata Horomona:

Te Rākau Hua o Te Wao Tapu

The blossoming fruit tree of our sacred grove  

Our name tells us that we are one tree in a great forest. It shows us how deep and connected our roots are.

Each of the trees growing around us in this sacred grove represents a form of Māori cultural expression: language, tikanga, stories, weaving, carving, performing arts and so on.

Our company, Te Rākau, is one of the many branches bearing fruit in this forest, connected to each other by a vast network of those who have gone before and those that will come after.

We nurture the next generation and give life to the vision that was seeded all those years ago: Māori stories told from a Māori perspective.

Ko wai mātou
Our people

Ngā pānui o te wā
News and events

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