HomeNewsUCOL performing arts class heading to regional competition

UCOL performing arts class heading to regional competition

By UCOL on Thursday, 24 August 2023

UCOL Performing Arts class

Learners from UCOL Wairarapa’s Performing Arts - Māori and Pacific dance programme are set to perform at the Lower North Island Regional TheatreFest after a strong showing at the local competition.

The UCOL group, Te Amorangi, picked up two awards for their production, Say My Name, at the recent Wairarapa TheatreFest. They received the Magic Moment for Individual Dance Sequences and the Distinction Award for Adult Production. Te Amorangi also qualified for the Lower North Island Regional TheatreFest, which is taking place on 26  August at Pahiatua Repertory Regent Theatre.

TheatreFest is a national competition run by Theatre New Zealand. Theatre groups, youth groups and schools perform short theatrical productions, which are judged by Association of New Zealand Drama Adjudicators (ANZDA) representatives.

Say My Name, started as an assignment for learners in the New Zealand Diploma in Performing Arts (Māori and Pacific Dance). Ākonga (learners) were tasked with creating a 20-minute production to show how important tuakiritanga (identity) is to them. The group performed Say My Name at secondary schools and for local organisations before receiving an invitation to present it at TheatreFest.

Say My Name explores thoughts and feelings that people have when their name is mispronounced.

UCOL Performing Arts Lecturer Kiri Riwai-Couch says, "Many of us have names that are handed down through generations of tupuna or a name that is given because of an important event in our family history. By looking inside we begin to understand why our name is so undeniably connected to our identity and who we are or aspire to be." 

Say My Name incorporates Māori and Pacific dance sequences to enhance the delivery of the kaupapa. The production includes Māori music, including the waiata Tū Mai Rā by Tini Whetu, a Wairarapa ensemble that includes three of the UCOL performing arts ākonga and Lecturer Shari Taylor-Kawana.

Kiri Riwai-Couch says she is incredibly proud of what the ākonga have achieved.

"Although all of our ākonga have performed in kapahaka groups many times before, none of them have ever taken on an acting part in a production. The assessment required ākonga to work as a team, which they did really well and they all made valuable contributions. It has been amazing to watch them grow and learn from this experience. This production really is a legacy they leave behind as they move onto their next adventures in life."

The top performances from the regional TheatreFest events will take part in a national showcase in September.

2024 enrolments for the New Zealand Diploma in Performing Arts (Māori and Pacific Dance) open soon.