Mai Slam gives Aranui youth their voice

News News & events

18 Oct 2016

Rap, hip hop and slam poetry collide in powerful performances this week by Aranui High School students, directed and produced by Ara Institute of Canterbury students.

Asovale Luma and Shea Kokaua, Bachelor of Media Arts Honours students created Mai Slam to give youth from their neighborhood a voice to explore issues relevant to them.

Aranui High School students from the Mai Slam production.

The production opens at Aranui High School on 19 October and plays at the NASDA theatre, Ara City Campus, on 20 October and Spectrum Theatre, 12 Hereford Street, on 21 October.

“During the process of developing our honours project, we decided to create the show with six Aranui students using their skills and energy to show people what it’s like in this neighbourhood; how the kids experience their own neighbourhood,” Luma said.

“It’s a platform to tell stories, in a safe environment.”

Both students attended Aranui High School and wanted to give back to their community. The No Limits! approach of empowering Pasifika youth through performance, which was developed by Te Kaiwhakauru Pasifika at Ara Sela Faletolu, has proven an inspirational model.  

Luma first discovered No Limits! while at high school and he knows how powerful being involved in these productions can be.

“No Limits! was my segue into NASDA and all the shows I’ve been part of have inspired me to go on and do this. There’s a whole bunch of people you can get to know and you put it into the show, then make sure you keep those relationships going. We don’t want this to be a one-off project.”

Devised during the school holiday break, the show does not shy away from serious issues such as social housing, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and broken families, but also has light hearted moments that will be familiar to many such as sharing fish and chips from the local shop.  

“For those that are new to performing it is such as good experience. They get to know more about themselves. There are so many life lessons that everyone takes from the show. You have to trust each other on stage. It’s fun as well. They’re not alone, and when they open up and talk about the issues they face, they find there are others who have felt the same way.”  

“Every time we rehearse it’s so much fun, because everyone is just themselves. They don’t have to apologise for anything.”

Mai Slam will help to generate better understanding of issues faced by youth today Luma says. “We definitely want a lot of different people to see the show.”