The critically acclaimed Broadway musical Hamilton has landed in Aotearoa, bringing a cast of Māori, Pasifika and Aboriginal people. It tells the story of the formation of the US Constitution through the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton in hip-hop and R'n'B music. Given its example, is it time for the Treaty of Waitangi to be transformed in a similar fashion?
The question was posed to Matu Ngaropo of Ngāi Tūhoe and Te Rarawa, who plays George Washington in the show, and he says it’s time for that to become a reality.
“Yes, of course, we should follow suit, so our kids and grandkids understand what it is all about. So, yeah it is a good idea. I don't know how we can do it, it may be a bit hard. But I can see that maybe we are ready as Māori to tackle that kind of work for that kind of production, he says.
Hamilton has taken off around the world since its conception in 2015, and the directors of the show encouraged their indigenous casts to hold onto their unique cultures.
Ngaropo says it was an easy option for him to fall back on his roots and give a Māori performance to an American drama.
“It dawned on me that I need to stand as a Māori face, I need to show off all that Māori have to offer, and soon enough you will see those things on the stage,” he says.
'Nek minnit, it's a revolution'
Though a show that touches on the constitution of the US and its founding fathers in the 1700's it may not have relevance to Kiwis, the goal of this production is to make it enjoyable to wider groups.
Akina Edmonds of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou says, despite the relevance to Aotearoa, it was an opportunity for her and her peers to create a product that can relate to everyone.
"That's what I love about Hamilton. it shows what we can do as people, what we can do as artists, as collaborators. We can. We can make anything happen. As you said the founding fathers of America sounds so boring, but nek minit, it's a revolution. So yes, anything is possible," she says.
Over recent years more Māori have appeared on the big screen, and Ngaropo challenges young Māori to enter the industry.
“It's a big deal to me to see our children come along to these, to see Māori faces on the stage, so they are aware that this can be a potential future for them. They hold the world in their hands. If I can do it, they can too,” Ngaropo says.
The show will open today at Spark Arena and will close on June 11.