May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Pohatu busy with film and stage work (Southland Times)

3 min read

When Maaka Pohatu wrapped filming in Southland he moved straight on to his next project.

Kimberley Crayton-Brown

“Literally straight from when I wrapped on set I got on a plane to Wellington and started rehearsals for Strange Resting Places.”

Pohatu spent two months in Southland filming Rob and Duncan Sarkies’ latest movie Two Little Boys, his first feature film role. Next month he will be back in the south as part of a national tour of Strange Resting Places, an inclusive theatre piece to be performed at the Riverton Arts Centre on June 8.

“At the time it was particularly hard because we had just finished a week of night shoots and my biological clock was really stuffed up. I had to get on to a 6am flight and go straight from the airport to rehearsal. I was a bit like a zombie by the end of that day, it was hilarious.”

Pohatu has performed Strange Resting Places since its first season in 2007. It had been five years in the making before that, he said.

“It was a devised work from scratch. There is something about the ownership of creating a work right from its concept,” he said.

“I just love stories about the Maori Battalion, and the themes of Maori and Italian culture. When I heard what was at the heart of the story that is what attracted me to it.”

Throughout the show Pohatu and co-stars Rob Mokaraka and Barnie Duncan play a variety of characters, from Italian mothers and monks to Maori soldiers and priests.

“It is quite a physical comedy; we try to embody more different characters from that world of Italy. The way the scenes flow we try and move through … we take you on a big trip to give a sense of the bigger world.”

After several seasons of the show, Pohatu said it was good to get back to it between other projects.

“For me, I like to go back to it. We have always got to go back and revisit it, every audience is different and you always find new ways to play something. We might take a gag or something, or a scene we felt wasn’t so strong, and work on it,” he said.

“It’s surprising how it is still pretty fun after all this time. For me it’s mainly the crew, we have had the same three guys for awhile now.”

Another crew Pohatu was looking forward to catching up with was some of the team from Two Little Boys who lived in Southland.

“I had a great time down there. It was awesome. The Catlins was a huge part of that and the scenery was amazing.”

And when the latest tour of Strange Resting Places winds up, Pohatu will once again be straight on to his next theatre project, but would love to work in film again.

“I’ll just keep my ear to the ground. Two Little Boys was my first feature film so the calls will come flooding in after that comes out. I’ll have to turn them away!”

  • Strange Resting Places can be seen at the Riverton Arts Centre on Wednesday, June 8, at 7pm. Tickets from the Arts Centre.

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