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  • Writer's pictureTE RĀKAU

Theatre as a tool to transform

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Creative New Zealand, 3 October 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 Rākau Hua o Te Wao Tapu Trust. Moana Tipa, Prison Art Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa is invited to visit.


A man with a beard looks into the camera, a carved Māori panel is displayed in the background
Jim Moriarty is the creative director at te Rākau Theatre | Cameron Burnell Fairfax Media

I enter a large, open space where a dozen rangatahi (youth) and staff are ready to meet and greet in mihi whakatau.

They are participants and tutors in the comprehensive theatre-for-change programme run at Te Rakau Hua o Te Wao Tapu Trust, based in Wellington. Jim and his wife, writer Helen Pearse-Otene, join us. This full-time, 24/7 residential programme, contracted through the Government’s National Bednight Provider Contract, Child Youth and Family, sees rangatahi live as whānau, marae style, alongside their mentor and tutors for somewhere between 18 months and three years. They eat, sleep, study and perform through an intensive series of education and rehabilitation programmes, where Māori theatre is key.

Today, Māori and Pacific rangatahi stand one by one to mihi, to recite pepeha, their length of time with Te Rakau whānau, and their personal kaupapa and goal. The kōrero is stirring.

Read more on the Creative NZ website.

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