Amanda Noblett (Tainui, Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Pākehā) plays the kuia in Te Kuia me te Pūngāwerewere, Taki Rua Productions’ Te Reo Māori Season play that is touring the country at the moment. Guest editor Kura Rutherford caught up with her and covered a lot of ground, from spiders to netball!
Amanda Noblett as the Kuia; detail from a photograph by Philip Merry
Amanda is a graduate of Whitireia Performing Arts course with a Bachelor of Applied Arts, and has worked on six productions with Taki Rua, as well as working with Tawata Productions, Le Moana Dance, Hāpai Productions and Te Rākau Hua o Te Wao Tapu Trust.
Amanda says, 'performing has always been a passion of mine. Being chosen to perform Patricia Grace's iconic children's book in te reo Māori to our beautiful schools of Aotearoa is a privilege. E kaingākau ana au ki ngā mahi ā rēhia. E kaingākau hoki ana au ki te tākoha i te reo Māori, me ngā pūrākau Māori ki te aō. Nāku anō te hōnore ki te whai mahi i tāku e kaingākau ana, otirā te haerere haere ki ngā kura o Aotearoa ki te whakatū whakaari reo Māori. ‘Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.’ Tīhei mauriora.'
The play Te Kuia me te Pūngāwerewere is based on the New Zealand classic picture book The Kuia and the Spider by Patricia Grace, and is written and directed by Jamie McGaskill, translated by Hōhepa Waitoa, and performed in te reo Māori, alongside Amanda, by Jason Te Kare, Te Awhiroa Lewis Kuka-Sweet and Isaac Te Reina.
Scene from Taki Rua's production of Te Kuia me te Pūngāwerewere; photograph by Philip Merry
The use of gestures, dance and waiata makes it an accessible, engaging show for all audience members, te reo speaking or not, and offers a wonderful opportunity for young audiences to be immersed in te reo Māori.
The play veers from Grace’s original storyline of the kuia and the spider fighting over who is the best weaver, to incorporate a fast-paced, sometimes dark, always humorous ‘backstory’ involving the kuia, two brother spiders and a grasshopper, all trying to save a magical Spider World from human proliferation.
Like in the book though, there is bickering – plenty of it – beautifully delivered in te reo by the multi-talented cast. Māori theatre company, Taki Rua, have been touring an annual show for te reo Māori Season since the 1990s, and hundreds of schools have been lucky enough to watch their performances, all presented in te reo Māori by some of our country’s leading actors.
Amanda Noblett as the Kuia; photograph by Philip Merry
We challenged Amanda to a quick-fire ‘either/or’ journey through the Māori ārapu/alphabet. Amanda's choices are highlighted in orange.
A ata/ahiahi (morning/afternoon)
E eke hōiho/eke ngaru (horse riding/surfing)
H hukapapa/hukātara (frost/hail)
I inanahi/ināianei/āpōpō (yesterday/now/tomorrow)
K kawhi/korarā (coffee/milo)
M mīti/mātaitai (meat/shellfish)
N niupēpā/Pukamata (newspaper/Facebook)
Ng Ngawha/te wharekai i Ngaio (Ngawha hot springs/café in Ngaio)
O oma taumano/oma taitau (marathon/middle distance run)
P poitarawhiti/poitūkohu (netball/basketball)
R rāhipere/rōpere (raspberry/strawberry)
T tīemiemi/tārere (seesaw/swing)
U ua tarahī/ua tātā (light drizzle/heavy rain)
W waka kōpana/waka ama (jet boat/canoe)
Wh whakapaipai/whakairi kākahu (AN: whakatā :) ktk) (tidy up/hang the clothes)
Kura Rutherford (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Pākehā) is an editor and school librarian living in Hawke’s Bay, but home for her will always be the house her parents built in a sunny valley in Waiotemarama, Hokianga.