National | Arts

Musical-comedy embraces Māori customs

'City of 100 Lovers' is the latest musical theatre comedy which showcases Māori and Pacific culture in a modern story that's never been seen before.

Upholding traditional Māori customs throughout all facets of the production has been a major priority for the cast and crew.

The production is staged in a contemporary setting and Māori cultural expert Paora Sharples has included Māori customs into the production.

City of 100 Lovers brings together talent from New Zealand, Australia, China and the USA. The 158-strong team of cast and crew have created an 80-minute spectacle at Skycity, which will run for nine months.

Source: City of 100 Lovers Website.

Veteran actor Waihoroi Shortland says, "This is something new.  In the past, tribes weren't afraid of trying new things.  If we look at composers like Tuini and Ngoi, they would compose songs with Pākehā tunes but with a Māori flavour, that's what we're doing.

"Paora is responsible for adapting Māori customs to fit the context of the production, in particular how they [the actors] execute them, but I have faith in the fact that he is meeting those needs.  We have a Pākehā war dance here, if you listen you'll be able to see that the essence, the power and exhilaration is still there."

Lead male actor Kieran Foster, of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, says, "There are quite a few Māori lines in it and I unfortunately don't speak Māori very well so [Sharples] was always there helping me out if I didn't have the right annunciations and inflections and that sort of thing, he would be like 'bro just think of it this way' and he would just play with it a little bit with me so I'd be able to get everything I can."

Source: City of 100 Lovers Website.