Taki Rua Theatre - Breaking Barriers 2024

Directed by Whetū Fala Māhutonga

What began as an experience in biculturalism between Māori and Pākehā grew into Taki Rua Theatre, the unofficial national Māori theatre company. As we tour the motu with the latest ensemble of young artists, we witness the deeply personal and politically visionary story of the 30-year struggle to create a truly bicultural force, and the wāhine toa who agitated for change.

Aug 18

ASB Waterfront Theatre

Aotearoa New Zealand In English and Te reo Māori with English subtitles
80 minutes Colour / DCP
documentary film exempt from NZ Classification labelling requirements

Director, Screenplay

Consulting Director

Christina Asher


Whetū Fala, Selina Joe


Fred Renata, Matt Henley, Richard Bluck


Siobhan Houkamau


Amanda Noblett, Jason Te Kare, Eds Eramiha, Roimata Fox, Scotty Cotter, Rena Owen, Briar Grace Smith, Mere Boynton, Mika X, Kara Paewai, Tina Cook, Hone Kouka, Maila Urale, Tanemahuta Gray, Toni Huata, Philippa Campbell, Sunny Amey, Rangimoana Taylor, Tama Kirikiri


Wi Kuki Kaa, Tungia Baker, Rona Bailey, Keri Kaa with Nancy Brunning

Ko Tapu-te-ranga karanga atu ki a Tangi-te-kio, ki a Whitireia,
Whitireia titiro ki a Marotiri, ki tea ta hapara ki runga o Hikurangi,
Hikurangi titiro ki a Tongariro, ki a Pīhanga, ki a Tauhara, ki a Taiarahia, ki a Ngongotahā, ki a Taupiri, ki te maunga tītohea, ko Koro Taranaki. Ko Taranaki e karangahia atu, ‘ko rātou, ko mātou, ko tātou’. E ngā maunga whakahī, I whai hā ai te Whare Tapere o Takirua,
i tauwhirotia tea o, me to po, tēnei te whakamānawa atu nei

“Stories about people like us.”

Post the 1981 Springbok tour, as New Zealanders were embracing a new maturity of valuing their own identity, a group of liberal-minded Pākehā theatre practitioners took over the running of an unwanted theatre space in downtown Wellington near Downstage Theatre.

The New Depot focused on New Zealand stories for New Zealand audiences. Within a few years the original collective’s thinking grew to understand that to truly represent our stories, they needed to be in partnership with Māori and the humble theatre company evolved into Taki Rua Theatre.

Taki Rua has survived financial struggles, creative disputes, earthquakes, intolerance, and internal conflict to navigate its place today as the unofficial national Māori theatre of Aotearoa.

In her film, director Whetū Fala connects with Taki Rua actors, writers, producers, directors, staff, governors and te reo Māori advocates who have helped shape the theatre company over the last 40 years – the experiences and challenges faced by Taki Rua mirroring our journey towards nationhood.

Observation, interviews and rare archival footage are combined with filmed extracts of groundbreaking Taki Rua dramas including Te Hokina, Purapurawhetū, Whatungarongaro, and Ngā Tangata Toa. These plays originally shocked audiences with incisive social commentary. Fast forward to present day and a new Taki Rua production for children, Te Kuia Me Te Pūngāwerewere, presents an immersive te reo Māori play that is received with joy and happiness

It’s hard to imagine a theatre scene in Aotearoa today that doesn’t include stories about ourselves. Taki Rua Theatre – Breaking Barriers is a reminder that they exist because people took chances and broke down barriers.