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  • Writer's pictureTE RĀKAU

Ka mua, ka muri: drama teachers connect with mātauranga

Updated: May 20

June 2023

Te Rākau is supporting drama teachers to connect with mātauranga Māori as part of the 2023 Drama New Zealand National Conference.


Attendees at the 2022 Drama NZ Conference, where Te Rākau will be presenting in 2023
Attendees at the 2022 Drama NZ Conference, where Te Rākau will be presenting in 2023

Learning from the past to inform the future of education – it’s the core kaupapa on the minds of more than 120 kaiako as they prepare for the Drama New Zealand National Conference in Rotorua this July.

Te Rākau was the first keynote speaker to be announced for the three day conference, and will be sending its Paepae Auaha (creative leads) to share insight about its original art-based healing framework, Theatre Marae.

Drama New Zealand’s Kaiwhakahaere Hinonga (National Executive) Emma Bishop says attendees are looking forward to welcoming Te Rākau kaihuawaere (facilitators) Jim Moriarty, Helen Pearse-Otene and Lisa Maule.

“With NCEA and Ministry of Education priorities coming into action next year, we hope that many kaiako across the country take advance of the opportunity to come together in person and experience the of our amazing presenters,” says Emma.

The association’s President Annette Thomson explains how the keynote presentation will support the conference kaupapa: ‘Ka mua, ka muri – walking backwards into the future.’

“This whakatauki is extremely appropriate for our context: not only with the introduction of the New Zealand Histories Curriculum, but also from the perspective that drama and dramatic pedagogy can be used to explore the past and learn from it,” says Annette.

“Drama pedagogy and Te Ao Māori practices are very connected. Our conference attendees will experience that first hand learning thanks to the facilitators’ critical research and manaakitanga.

“We value the knowledge Te Rākau brings as our association gives effect to and upholds the values of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its guiding principles. Walking the journey with such taonga is truly special.”


Many drama teachers will be well-versed with changes to the Aotearoa New Zealand curriculum that centre Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the learning journey.

Jim says the difficulty comes in translating that theoretical and academic knowledge to practical, classroom-based experiences.

“Teachers today understand trauma. Whether they’re working with mokopuna or pakeke, they see the impacts of it in their classroom,” says Jim.

“We share processes for creating safe spaces, sharing vulnerability and beginning to heal. We talk about a framework called Theatre Marae, which we’ve used working with people in schools, prisons, different communities and corporations over the years.”

“It all starts with who you are and how you came to be here. Our methods are embedded in mātauranga Māori, because that’s who we are. It’s our privilege to honour and share that knowledge with the professionals who will support our next generation.”

Alongside the keynote presentation, attendees at the conference can also join Te Rākau for a three hour ‘whakapapa workshop’ – a practical learning experience exploring themes of identity.

more information

The 2023 Drama New Zealand National Conference is coordinated with funding from the Ministry of Education’s Networks of Expertise, which supports associations to build capacity across the education sector.

Find out more online and register for one of the Te Rākau Whakapapa workshops lead by Jim and Helen.

Ka mua, ka muri 2023 Drama New Zealand National Conference 1 – 3 July 2023 | John Paul College, Rotorua

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