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  • Ashleigh Putt-Fallows

Review: Hāpaitia

Picture credit: Hāpaitia social media

Words by: Ashleigh Putt-Fallows (she/her) (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Tūhoe)

Content warning: Death


Hāpaitia, created by Parekawa Finlay and Raureti Ormond and produced by Te Auaha, was an incredibly insightful and significant show that explored themes of the Māori mind and emotion intertwined with Te Ao Māori, our history, our whakapapa and our connection to those. 


As I walked in, I immediately noticed the set ambience, with one suitcase filled with dirt in the middle of the stage and more falling in. Lighting and sound helped to create this, with the light almost mimicking what natural light would be and the sound being soft but present. They begin the show with Tīmata, a well-crafted monologue and waiata resisting their respective connection through the whenua of their whanau to Papatūānuku that reminds me of tūpuna on the marae. Then starts Te Kaikohi, where Parekawa explores the internal colonisation of her mind and her journey to free herself from the colonial mindset. With an outstanding balance and smooth transition of humour and serious discussion, she talks about Horatio Robley - a coloniser from the 1860s - and his part in our history in and around the Waikato invasion during the Māori land wars. She bears her whole self in a confronting yet validating first half. 


This was complemented by special lighting and sound design, which helped demonstrate emotion and attitudes at the time and connected her kōrero back to the Tikanga of Māori people. She beautifully explains Tikanga Māori to help illustrate just how different these attitudes were. Raureti then launches into Te Whio, the whistle, which utilises an ensemble to demonstrate some possible kōrero from the victims of the Tangiwai Disaster. Set on Christmas Eve 1953, the kōrero and waiata provide an emotional experience as you watch the characters give their own lives and the chance to ever see home again. It's a touching and thought-provoking piece that brings us into the heads of those victims. It was evident that much effort had gone into how the waiata was sung and how they sounded, including what different harmonies, emphasises and quiet moments would tell the audience about a particular character or the group. The choreography was well-matched and executed with great timing.

 The lighting, along with the costumes and props, effectively conveyed the setting and time period. The ending, Mutunga, had an almost whanau vibe, encouraged by the use of 'Country Roads' by John Denver between Raureti and Parekawa as they brought us back to the main themes and our connection to te ao and each other. 


Overall, the show and everyone involved did a fantastic job showcasing topics that can be hard to understand and incorporating aspects from Te Ao Māori. If I had any ways to improve, it would be refining it a little in some waiata and chorus but more importantly, if I had one critique, it would be that the show should be open for more than four days. I would encourage everyone to watch it and listen attentively to its message. 


Show Details:

Te Auaha (Tapere Nui)

21-24 February 2024

7.30pm shows

4.30pm matinee 24 Feb

Full Price $20

Concession $15

Fringe Addict $16

Ticket + 5 $25

Ticket + 10 $30

Book tickets here: https://fringe.co.nz/show/hpaitia or Fringe Box Office


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