Meet the Makers: Jason Te Mete

Published: Wednesday 10 July 2024


Jason is a multidisciplinary artist with over 20 years of professional experience. He has directed 40+ musical productions and has worked with all of the major theatre companies in Aotearoa. He was the recipient of the 2018 Adam Play Award for Best Play by a Māori Playwright and was the Programme Leader of Performing Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology until 2020 when the Creative Arts faculty was disestablished.

Jason is dedicated to empowering young people through creativity and expression. With a passion for nurturing talent and fostering confidence, Jason has spearheaded transformative programmes that enable youth to discover their artistic voices. As the founder of Tuatara Collective, Jason has provided countless opportunities for Māori, Pasifika, LGBTQi+, and rangatahi to hone their skills and showcase their talents on stage. His innovative approach combines rigorous training with a supportive environment, in particular the Rātā initiative supporting mental health in the arts industry.

In June 2024 Jason received the Ngā Tohu Toi Te Auahatanga O Te Wā (Creative Of The Year) Award, an esteemed acknowledgement from the Tauranga Moana arts community where he is now based.

We sat down with Jason ahead of his upcoming audience participatory show, Battle Chorus, to find out a little more about him and his arts practice.

What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
Music is in my blood, and it is a big part of who I am and what I do. I’m a natural storyteller and love making work that people.

What’s the hardest thing about what you do?

Sometimes the freelance nature of working in the arts can be challenging - not knowing what is next. But I have faith in the universe that something will pop up just around the corner.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Sing from your chest, because that’s where your heart is.

What’s the best show you’ve seen this year?

Although it may seem a little biased, our Tuatara Collective ANZAC tribute show, For The Fallen was incredibly powerful. Performed at the iconic Forta Leza restaurant in Katikati (just north of Tauranga), by a cast of 25 local rangatahi, audiences were immersed into the world of the Māori Battalion via a collection of poetry by Alistair Te Ariki Campbel ONZM.


Who are your favourite artists/theatre companies/musicians etc. and why?

(Sorry not sorry for blowing our own trumpet here) Tuatara Collective is creating and presenting high-quality, engaging toi whakaari and mahi toi projects, as well as providing opportunities and experiences for rangatahi to participate in, and share these with the wider communities of Tauranga Moana, Auckland and the wider motu. Although tiny in comparison to other companies, Tuatara Collective have initiated, produced and presented 14 large-scale projects in the last 3 years. Their Rātā Initiative, an innovative arts practice collaborating with health professionals to support mental health in the arts industry, is unique and sets them apart from other performing arts organisations. Their motto is so vital in today's current climate.

Our art is important.

Our art is rongoā.

Our art, our people.

Our people, our future.

How has Auckland Live supported you through the years and what does this support mean to you?

Auckland Live has always been a great supporter of me - initially as an independent artist, and then with Tuatara Collective. Former Auckland Live producer Janelle Bish commissioned the very first Battle Chorus in 2019 for the Auckland Live Cabaret Season. Senior Production Manager Stacey Donaldson has also been a solid supporter of our mahi over the years.


Tell us about your upcoming show Battle Chorus

After a strong start with three battles in Auckland 2019-2020, COVID-19 and a challenging health scare put the brakes on the show. We lit the flame again last year and since then have held battles in Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Rotorua and Tauranga. We are looking forward to bringing Battle Chorus back to Auckland.


What can audiences expect from Battle Chorus?

Audiences can expect to get those vocal cords buzzing, dance the night away singing some of the greatest hits of all time, and have a whole lot of fun in this light-hearted community sing-along.

Intrigued? Buy your tickets now

Be the first to know about live events in Auckland!