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Te Pou Theatre showcases Māori performing arts

Founded in 2015, Te Pou Theatre is the only Māori-led performing arts centre in the country. And it’s based right here in West Auckland at the Corban Arts Estate.

Te Pou Theatre delivers a thrilling annual programme of live performances. Highlights include the Te Pou Whakaari series, which tours venues and schools throughout Auckland and Northland. This year Whakaari includes a te reo Māori children’s show, Mahuika. Written by one of Te Pou’s founding leaders, Amber Curreen, the fun-filled show is touring schools throughout June and July.

Te Pou Theatre in post

Another annual highlight is the Kōanga Festival. This exciting and innovative festival takes place over ten days in the spring. Four new works written by Māori playwrights will debut during the festival. This year’s programme is still being finalised. However, it promises to be a fantastic celebration of homegrown talent for all the whānau to enjoy.

Alongside live performances, Te Pou also offers professional development opportunities for the Māori performing arts sector. Designers, directors and creatives can take part in various options, from mentoring to acting classes or having a go at producing. Nurturing and developing local talent is a big priority for Te Pou Theatre.

Like many in the performing arts sector, the last couple of years has been challenging for the theatre. Covid restrictions have curtailed Te Pou’s rich programme.

According to Amanda Rees Kaihautū Taha Hinengaro at Te Pou, the theatre switched to live-streamed online events.

‘Our capability programme for Māori performing artists went online during lockdown,’ she says. ‘And as restrictions allowed, we started a programme of Front Yard Festivals where we brought our live performances to front yards throughout Auckland,’ adds Amanda.

However, Te Pou Theatre’s bank balance also took a hit during Covid.

‘Te Pou Theatre is committed to removing financial barriers to enjoying live theatre,’ says Amanda. ‘That’s why our shows are offered free or low-cost to our audiences,’ she adds.

Amanda explains that Te Pou Theatre is a charitable trust and relies on donations and grant funding. And Covid has meant there’s less money to go around.

Te Pou Theatre applied to the Your West Support Fund for help with salary costs. And the $20,000 of funding made all the difference at a time when it was most needed.

'The Your West Support Fund has helped us keep going,' says Amanda.

This year, Te Pou Theatre is back bigger and better than ever with a lively, action-packed programme. You can enjoy live theatre at its best right here in West Auckland.

Check out the website for all the details and follow the theatre on Facebook for the latest news. Te Tou Theatre is located at Corban Estate Arts Centre, 2 Mount Lebanon Lane, Henderson.