May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori and Somali work side by side- held together by kauapa Maori

3 min read

Wellington arts company Eko is finding a new audience among migrant communities for its kaupapa Maori plays.

Crossing Lines is the result of two years of work by more than 400 people involved in the Maori, Somali and artistic communities of South Wellington. Four young actors two Somali, two Maori will bring to life the relationships and questions that link two distinct cultures in a theatre performance.

Writer Teina Moetara says they found some common values and traditions, such as the special roles for elders and the use of whakapapa, with young Somalis able to recite their genealogy back 30 generations.

Crossing Lines, which opens on March, will be accompanied by an interactive exhibition of the voices and images of the 400 people who have been part of the project.

When I was having interviews, this girl, she said: ‘If you dont have an understanding of whats around you then youre lost’. I really connected with that. If you dont connect with anything around you, you have no sense of belonging. I think that this is what we are trying to achieve in this work, an understanding of our cultures and how we can build within the community we share. Umulkheir Amiin, Actor

Partnership with tangata whenua is a core of Eko’s socially engaged arts practice. Eko’s values and structures are drawn from Te Ao Maori to frame intercultural and community exchange and the development of artistic work. The purpose for holding a M?ori lens to Eko’s work practice is to provide quality, accessable performance and art experiences to participating communities and a wider public.

Eko has picked up the challenge to promote understanding of tikanga m?ori amongst the diverse company who have come together as a collective to make and be in Crossing Lines. This exchange is supported by Te Puni Kokiri through a one day wananga and ongoing mentorship during the creative process lead by the Cultural Advisor, Mihaere Kirby and the Dramaturg, Teina Moetara.

In a normal Maori process, of receiving somebody, we know them, we learn them. The process is a two way thing, and so we know how to adjust as well. So the result of (the way refugees are ‘processed’ into Aotearoa) is that migrants get the raw end of the stick, but it dis-empowers all of us. – Teina Moetara, Dramaturg

Knowledge of tikanga maori is galvanised within the company in the intercultural context which is a focus of the work. Oportunities for M?ori and African migrant exchange are few, yet when they occur, in Eko’s experience, there are many areas of mutual benefit. How migrants are welcomed to New Zealand and the relationship to tangata whenua is a strongly emerging theme from the past two years of conversation.

I know some people who have gone through Mangere (Refugee Centre) and they have the Maori go there and do the haka, but they dont really explain what it is, and you dont get the story, so you think just people are making fun. I heard that the harder they do the haka they more they respect. I didnt know that, people are just scared. You kinda pull back, people dont think hes going angry. Fuad Farah

There is an assumption that what the crown offers is probably better, but, no other model has been offered. Tamati Cairns

  • What: Crossing Lines
  • Where: 70 Cable St, Wellington (opposite Te Papa)
  • Dates: Wed 9 Sun 20 March 2011 Exhibition: 10.30am 5.30pm,
  • no charge Performances: 6pm & 8.30pm. No show Monday. Tickets $5 children, $10 concession, $20 waged
  • Booking: 04 384-9988 or [email protected] or

Mihaere Kirby, Cultural Advisor, Matariki Whatarau Actor and Teina Moetara, Dramaturg are fluent in Te Reo and available for interviews. Other M?ori involved in Crossing Lines and available for interviews in English include: Helen Mitchell – Photographer Maria-Rose MacDonald Actor Coral Porter Mentoree Jasmine Rangi Williams Mentoree


Waged $20 Concession (Student, Community Services Card, Pensioner) $10 Child (2- 12) $5

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