Tutor working on Witi Ihimaera play

News News & events

23 Oct 2015

A CPIT tutor's successful debut as a writer-director in Christchurch has opened the door to a major role in a professional theatre production being staged in Wellington.

CPIT's Bachelor of Māori language and indigenous studies programme leader Hohepa Waitoa is fulfilling the role of assistant director on the play All Our Sons, at Wellington's Circa Theatre.

Penned by acclaimed Māori writer Witi Ihimaera and directed by well-known Samoan actor/director Nathaniel Lees, Waitoa said he was honoured and at the same time humbled to be asked to be involved in the production.

"There's a Māori proverb that the kumara doesn't know how sweet he is, and I guess that's how I feel about this opportunity happening for me, to be stepping into this area of performing arts. It's definitely a new journey for me."

Waitoa has a haka - performance background, which featured strongly in his play He Kura e Huna Ana, the first fully Te Reo Māori production to be staged at The Court Theatre that debuted during the Christchurch Arts Festival in September.

His haka skills will also be called upon in All Our Sons, which tells the story of a father and his two sons, who go off to fight with the New Zealand Native Contingent in World War 1 at Gallipoli.

The play is produced by Taki Rua, the same Māori theatre company that was involved in Waitoa's play in Christchurch. He has the same philosophy about this new material as he did for his own.

Where it all began: CPIT tutor Hohepa Waitoa working with actors during the production of his fully Te Reo play He Kura e Huna Ana, which played at The Court Theatre in September. Pictured, left, CPIT Māori language and indigenous studies students Kihere Aumua-Jahnke, who played Waitaiki and Hine, with Tyson Tangaroa, who played Poutini, a pounamu guardian.

"It's about learning the tricks of the trade from the best and making good quality theatre that I've put my heart into, and following in the footsteps of those gone by."

He also said doing Te Reo productions not only kept the language alive but added to the scope of his teaching for students at CPIT.

All Our Sons will run November 6-14.  

Wellington-based Taki Rua's Grace Hoet, who produced Waitoa's play and is also the interim producer of All Our Sons, said she was looking forward to seeing him develop as a writer and director under a Creative New Zealand funding scheme.

"His involvement in All Our Sons will add to his kite (bag) of tools as a new creative, emergent director."

Hoet said Taki Rua was keen for him to write another Te Reo play, and to re-work He Kuna e Hura Ana for a possible tour in 2017.

A video about the making of Waitoa's play can be viewed using this link: