Regional | Comedy

Māori stand-up comedians unite to help whānau impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle

Shortland Street actress Kura Forrester will headline a group of all Māori stand-up comedians in an event to raise money for whānau impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo / Supplied

By Ripu Bhatia, Stuff

A group of Māori stand-up comedians are coming together to raise money for whānau impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The Māori Comic Relief benefit will take place at Te Pou Theatre, in West Auckland, on April 1.

Shortland Street actor Kura Forrester is headlining the show and said it feels special to be a part of the first ever all-Māori stand-up comedy event.

“When I was starting out as a stand-up, there weren’t any shows like this,” she said.

"I feel really empowered and uplifted to be sharing the stage alongside other Māori comedians who are coming together for a very good cause.”

Producer and playwright Albert Belz is behind the event, and will perform alongside other notable Māori comedians like Kura Turuwhenua, Bailey Poching and Courtney Dawson.

Belz said the idea came to him while he was backstage at a comedy show admiring a picture of comedy icon Billy T James hanging on the wall.

“I recalled the force of Cyclone Gabrielle smashing into small Māori communities I knew so well, and felt helpless to do anything about it,” he said.

“Then it hit me. Get a bunch of Māori comedians together and hit it out of the ballpark with laughter and fundraising."

Cyclone Grabrille tore through Aotearoa in February, claiming 11 lives and destroying property and livelihoods.

Forrester said performing her comedy is the best way that she can help whānau who were affected.

“I feel honoured to perform in this show and give back with what I love doing most,” Forrester said.

“My whānau in Tokomaru Bay are the most resilient and funny people I know, so I owe a lot to them when it comes to knowing how to tell a good story."