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Ōtaki College

Region: Wellington

Art form: Multi-Disciplinary

Project name: The Battalion

Creative name: Te Rākau Theatre Marae

Project information: Our creatives will work with our rangatahi in a holistic kaupapa Māori theatre process to produce a high-quality performance that will engage, challenge, and excite both participants and audiences. The Battalion is a powerful story about loss of innocence, comradeship, whānau, adventure, loyalty, sacrifice, love, and ultimately, healing set during WWII. Many members of the Māori Battalion were just kids, as young as 15, when they left for WWII, and there are whānau in Ōtaki who have direct links to the Māori Battalion. Exploring and portraying these characters is a powerful and sobering experience, for both the performers and the audience. The story has a contemporary twist with the mokopuna of the original soldiers learning about their koro and kuia’s stories. 

There is some challenging content to deal with, but our creatives have extensive experience and credentials in dealing with this and any issues that may come up for the rangatahi. They ensure the pastoral and creative safety of all participants throughout the engagement and will collaborate and communicate with the College and parent communities for the ongoing holistic growth of all rangatahi involved. 

The kaupapa for this project is to bring our history, whakapapa, connections, and our stories into Te Ao Marama – the world of light. The resulting performances will be high quality and socially significant, and resonate culturally, therapeutically, and artistically for audience members and participants alike. The Theatre Marae process is a fusion of therapeutic models, ngā mahi a Rēhia, and political theatre, delivered in a Kaupapa Māori environment. This project has clear links to the New Zealand Curriculum in History, Dance, Drama, Māori, Health, and Te Ao Haka. Rangatahi will learn to use respectful communication, body awareness, appropriate vocabulary, public speaking, and presentation skills. Committed participation, relating to others and self-management will be vital to the success of this project. NCEA assessment would be explored with rangatahi and staff of the kura involved. Rangatahi will be working through a real-life theatre process with weekly rehearsals which increase to daily rehearsals as the performance time comes close. The opportunity to work with experienced and expert theatre practitioners gives the project and the learning a unique and invaluable authenticity. The show would then be shared and performed with the community of Ōtaki.

Project starting: July 2022

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