Moriarty theatre takes Swing at dark topics 

Waatea News July 13, 2022

Māori theatre legend Jim Moriarty says the latest production by his company Te Rakau brings light to topics often left in the dark. The Swing was written by his partner Helen Pearse-Otene and looks at subjects like ngau whiore or sexual abuse and whakamomori or suicide through a Māori lens.

Link to audio interview

THE SWING theatre review by Linda Chanwai Earle (2022)

From the moment the audience enters the venue, we are embraced by a fierce, dramatically choreographed pōwhiri (welcoming) by the Kaitito Nekehanga (Choreographers) Kimberley Skipper and Jeremy Davis. It’s a signature of Te Rākau Theatre’s kaupapa and seasoned Director Jim Moriarty’s style. Helen Pearse-Otene’s play The Swing has already begun.  

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Taranaki rangatahi tackles tough subjects on stage

Stratford Press 14 Jul, 2022

A Hāwera High School graduate is taking to the stage to address difficult subjects such as family violence and suicide as part of a Māori theatre production this July. Jewel Te Wiki, 18, will perform in Te Rākau Theatre's presentation of The Swing in Wellington at the end of the month.

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Theatre Marae: Māori theatre pedagogy in research 

Pearse-Otene, H. (2020). 

MAI Journal, 9(3), 226-236. DOI: 10.20507/MAIJournal.2020.9.3.5

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Decolonising theatre and ensemble training in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Te Rākau Hua o Te Wao Tapu Theatre, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training,

Pearse-Otene, H. (2020). 

DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2020.1839943

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​NZ ON Screen profile - Jim Moriarty

Jim Moriarty's screen career has ranged from 70s soap Close to Home and Rowley Habib's The Protestors, to starring in mock-doco The Waimate Conspiracy and playing Dad in The Strength of Water. Committed to theatre as a tool for change, he has often worked with troubled youth (eg 2003 documentary Make or Break). Moriarty's directing work includes TV's Mataku, and a stage musical of Once Were Warriors.  

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Radio New Zealand

January 26, 2017

Review by John Smythe

John Smythe from Theatreview.org.nz reviews PUBLIC WORKS and THE LANDEATERS two of the plays in the four part series THE UNDERTOW. This is true community theatre…

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Māori theatre a tonic for NZ’s ‘historical amnesia’

Massey University 

January 25, 2017

Countering “cultural amnesia” with provocative, entertaining theatre that exposes multiple truths of Aotearoa's turbulent history is how Te Rākau Theatre artistic director Jim Moriarty describes the work of The Undertow – a four-play epic currently being performed in Wellington.

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Pantograph Punch

January 25, 2017

Review by Adam Goodall

Te Rākau have made a spectacle that’s vital and unlike anything being made in Wellington, and perhaps in New Zealand, today. It’s audacious, often beautiful and a welcome antidote to the state-of-the-nation plays that too often avoid wrangling with the colonial pollution of New Zealand's history. It’s an uncompromising communication of the poison that runs deep in our land, a powerful challenge to remember a history that never stopped living, and a stirring invitation for us to come together, to connect, and to start healing.

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​The Dominion Post

January 19, 2017

Review by Ewen Coleman

A theatrical event like no other is currently taking place in Wellington and is not only unique in its structure – four plays under the one title – but with its content as well.

From sparrows dancing around the stage, to statues, monuments, the jungles of Vietnam and helicopters plus a lot more, these performers move and writhe around the stage in expertly choreographed scenes that are spellbinding.

So, for something distinctively New Zealand, not only in the stories it tells but the way they are told, all four parts of The Undertow are a must see.

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January 19, 2017

Review by Kris Wehipeihana

There are many things I love about The Undertow. It features a cast and crew that are multigenerational. It uses te reo Māori and English. It’s ambitious in both script and theatrical style. There’s singing and dancing and it feels integrated. It tells a story that is of this place.

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Actress ready for war in The Undertow

Abby Brown for The Upper Hutt Leader

January 18, 2017

"I love performing with this whanau, they create a magical atmosphere both on and off-stage," she said.

She said although she was Pakeha, the Māori theatre group was really welcoming.

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"I Am More Important Than Shakespeare": Ten Moments in Wellington Theatre 2016

Adam Goodall for The Pantograph Punch

December 16, 2016

A story of two Māori brothers on opposite sides of the Pākehā settlement of Pōneke, Helen Pearse-Otene's Dog & Bone, staged by Taki Rua and Te Rākau, was rich in history and charged up with the energy of its 27-strong ensemble, led by muscular, fiercely-connected performances from men of the hour Errol Anderson and Jamie McCaskill. Detailing the damage wrought across families and iwi by British colonisation, Dog & Bone was a tragedy passionately told and it sent shivers up my spine every other scene. The play is the second part of the underTOW, Pearse-Otene’s planned four-part epic of local history, and all four parts play at Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre next month. It is imperative that you go.

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Call for Māori theatre space at Te Papa

Laura Bootham for Radio New Zealand

January 23, 2016

"Māori are an oral and visual culture and live theatre is part of the presentations that happen on marae. That's why we haka, poi, waiata, karanga all that sort of stuff and wear costumes... we like to share our stories with others."

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Eloquent and insightful: a richly wrought weave

Review by John Smythe for Theatreview

January 22, 2016

…there is an intrinsic value in the connection these performers have to the place these stories are rooted in. It brings us back to why humans invented theatre in the first place – of, for and by the people.

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Theatre Review: Dog & Bone

January 22, 2016

Ewen Coleman for The Dominion Post

The sincerity and commitment of the performers also comes across as real and meaningful, making this a great production to start what promises to be an exciting year theatrically in Wellington.

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The Undertow, The Ragged: Early settler story told in epic scale and writing

The Dominion Post

January 23, 2015

To have read or heard about our local history is one thing, but to see it portrayed in the way Te Rakau Theatre does is special and unique and not to be missed.

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​Theatre explores Wellington's violent past

Caitlin Salter for The Dominion Post

January 19, 2016

"The dynamics of people colonising each other are still as relevant now as it was in 1869."

Many theatre directors would shudder to think of a cast bigger than 15, but Dog & Bone features 26 actors, and 14 backstage helpers. Those involved range from 9-year-olds to professional actors.

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Budding Hutt actors relish opportunities with Te Rakau's UnderTOW quartet

Hutt News

January 11, 2016

Four budding actors from the Hutt are involved in a theatre project that delves way back in Wellington's past.

St Bernard's College students Zechariah Julius-Donnelly and John Ulu Va'a, former pupil Aidan Almand, and St Oran's past pupil Charlotte Lennon, are among a cast of 26 in Dog&Bone, which opens at at Te Papa Tongarewa's Soundings Theatre from January 21.

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Richly textured, insightful, humorous, sobering and energising 

Review by John Smythe for Theatreview

January 21, 2015

As well as being the start of an important project, The Ragged is a richly textured, insightful, humorous, sobering and energising gift to Wellington and Aotearoa /New Zealand. Not to be missed.

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Telling both sides of the story

Sarah Catherall for The Dominion Post

January 21, 2016

There are two sides to every story, and Māori actor and thespian Jim Moriarty wants to revisit the idea of "goodies and baddies" in our colonial history.

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Remembrance of things past

Tom Cardy for The Dominion Post

January 20, 2015

It’s the beginning of trying to understand each other, but for all intents and purposes, stuff happens.

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The Ragged: A tale of Māori and settlers in 1840 opens at Te Papa

Te Karere

January 19, 2015

A new theatre production The Ragged opens tonight in Wellington. 

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Quartet of Māori plays to open at Te Papa

Radio New Zealand

December 2, 2014

The director of the series, a well-known actor and theatre director, Jim Moriarty, said it was brave of Te Papa to showcase the works, which he said were a confrontational take on New Zealand's history.

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Māori theatre - te whare tapere hōu

Mark Derby and Briar Grace-Smith for Te Ara - Encyclopedia of New Zealand

October 22, 2014

Māori theatre flowered in the later 20th century, driven by the Māori cultural renaissance, and the whare tapere – a traditional site for entertainment and performance – was revived.

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The Battalion

Radio New Zealand

April 26, 2015

Te Rakau Hua o te Wao Tapu Trust is a theatre company that has performed in prisons, schools, marae, and even in the lounges of homes. Ngāti Toa actor Jim Moriarty has worked in film, television and theatre for the last forty years. The Battalion is a highly charged play using dance, kapa haka, and waiata to tell the story.

Written by Helen Pearse-Otene, Jim explains the story and the importance of honouring māori men who served overseas.

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The Warrior     


February 25, 2014

ALEXANDER BISLEY talks to Jim Moriarty about saying no to Jake Heke,  Wellington’s inaugural Pūtahi Festival 2014 and Battalion, whanaungatanga versus The Lifestyle, and how theatre, te reo Māori, and the Treaty can empower all New Zealanders.  More…

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Creative New Zealand

October 13, 2010

‘The Ragged’ is the new play produced by the Te Rakau Trust Theatre Company. Following on from the success of ‘The Battalion’, the Te Rakau Trust continue to push the boundaries of ‘applied theatre’ to heal open wounds and mend broken promises. 

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Theatre as a tool to transform

Creative New Zealand

October 4, 2010

Māori theatre as a tool for change continues to fuel the long-held, powerhouse vision and work of Jim Moriarty, Artistic Director of Te Rakau Hua o Te Wao Tapu Trust. Moana Tipa, Prison Art Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa is invited to visit.

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Māori Theatre    

Arts Access

September 20, 2010

MĀORI THEATRE as a tool for change continues to fuel the long-held, powerhouse vision and work of Jim Moriarty, Artistic Director of Te Rakau Hua o Te Wao Tapu Trust. Moana Tipa, Prison Art Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa is invited to visit. More…

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Te Rakau or jail? Where the lost boys can go for help

News Wire 

March 3, 2010

How do you turn around the life of a young man who’s got nowhere left to go? KARA LOK found out when she spent time at Te Rakau, Wellington’s Māori education and drama company.

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Dramatic therapy rewards

The New Zealand Herald

November 18, 2000

​Jim Moriarty, veteran Māori actor and director, has a stash of sad stories he can tell, gathered from the powerful drama therapy programme he runs in social welfare homes.

But Moriarty believes the programme Purotu - The Magic Within transforms them from being defensive and fearful.

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