Entertainment | Māori

Mahuika legend told on stage by indigenous women

Photo supplied: 818 / Ignite graduates

The Auckland multi-purpose recording studios and live music venue, Big Fan, has created a live show, Mahuika, telling the story of the Māori goddess of fire.

The show Mahuika’s Fire was a part of the final performances of the Big Fan Ignite programme, and saw indigenous women to the forefront expressing different forms of performing arts, such as rapping, singing, producing and visual arts.

The Ignite programme is a recurring free eight-week industry-specific training programme that offers high-quality mentoring from industry professionals, upskilling opportunities, hands on experience and guidance for 18 successful applicants.

It aims to nurture and empower rangatahi with a passion for music, stage performing and performing arts.

The show Mahuika’s Fire was spearheaded by Elijah Hunt (16) {they/them} and Sheba Mark Brown (18), and Hunt says they were proud to take a show filled with indigenous women to the stage.

“The whole idea of having an indigenous wāhine line-up and an indigenous wāhine run show that was just something we really wanted to do.”

Opportunity for indigenous

Hunt was the event manager for the show and was a graduate from the programme.

They encourage all indigenous people to join the programme, due to the lack of representation in the field.

“I want to see more of us in the front-line, running the events and putting on shows for our people, by our people.”

Hunt says working with their mentor, Petrina Togi-Sa’ena. was a highlight of their time in the programme, but what stood out was the actual show.

“Of course the event itself, that was the biggest highlight, having the turnout. Even though we didn’t get the numbers that we wanted to, the numbers that were there still had a very good connection with each other.”

The story of Mahuika is one that has been told to Māori for generations, varying from tribe to tribe, though the story remains relatively similar.

All fired up

Mahuika has been mentioned in the story of the demi-god Māui, and his exploits taking the fire from Mahuika leading to the final toenail of Mahuika being thown at Māui and landing in many trees. These trees held on to the gift from Mahuika and to this day are the best for fire.

The performance took place last week and Hunt says telling a story like Mahuika, is an opportunity to encourage fellow Pacifika and Māori to attend a programme like Ignite.

“I would definitely encourage people to join this programme, especially for our indigenous cultures like, Pacific Islanders and Māori. I feel that we are under-represented in this sort of field.”

Programme director Cuilllin Hartey says she is proud of what this group was able to achieve.

“This intake of ignite has been amazing. It’s been incredible to see all the participants work together and achieve such amazing things in such a short period of time. Everyone’s outcome has been so unique to their personalities, it’s so cool to see. What’s been especially amazing is them championing and celebrating things they are passionate about, like Elijah and Sheba choosing to represent their communities and what they hold close, they put on a truly inspiring show.”