Creating audiences of the future

9 June 2017

​Hundreds of students from schools around Auckland have experienced an unforgettable first taste of the performing arts at Auckland Live, thanks to a visionary collaboration of some of Aotearoa's most gifted performers.

Taki Rua Production's Tiki Taane Mahuta is a $1m blend of narratives and a fusion of Māori martial arts, contemporary dance, hip-hop and aerial theatre set to a soundtrack from Tiki Taane albums, that has been almost a decade in the making.

Last Monday night the talents of its composer and musician Taane and choreographer/director Tanemahuta Gray melded together in a performance at the ASB Theatre at the Aotea Centre, described by NZ Herald as "stunning…a sublime experience", and received a standing ovation from its enthralled audience.

Earlier that day, Tiki Taane Mahuta's nine performers had received a similar reception from 800 secondary school students, who broke into spontaneous haka at the conclusion of a matinee performance of the show.

Afterwards, a workshop led by Tanemahuta Gray in the Lower NZI saw 100 students from Papakura College introduced to the discipline of mau rākau – a form of Māori martial art featured in the show. See the images below.

The students were able to attend the event after Taki Rua Productions made available $10 tickets to schools attending– an 85 per cent subsidy of the evening show's price; in addition, ticketing outlets waived their standard fees.

It was the biggest student workshop yet for Taki Rua and its CEO Gray, and the launch pad of a 13-city tour currently underway around the motu which will see 4000 high school and tertiary students attending matinee performances of Tiki Taane Mahuta, and 800 taking part in workshops.

Tanemahuta Gray says he's passionate about instilling the live theatre experience in young people, who are the next generation of theatregoers.

"Building audiences now is crucial if we are to have an industry in the future," he says.

"Engaging with young people at performances, subsidising their tickets and taking theatre to them throughout the regions are key tools to help do this."

He believes that if just a dozen students at each Tiki Taane Mahuta performance become lifelong theatre attendees, and in turn introduce their children to the arts, the next generation of performers, audiences and creatives will be in good hands.