Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Tu Taha, Tu Kaha: Transcultural Dialogues

Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Tu Taha, Tu Kaha: Transcultural Dialogues

Article excerpt

Kakari kaihiku, kia haere kai upoko.

(Unity comes with a fair sharing of resources.)

A journey begins. It traverses Aotearoa's1 and Ta Va'i Poenemu's2 actual and metaphoric landscapes and considers issues to do with culture, space and place, and how these impact upon intercultural3 and transcultural4 theatre and performance. The authors, Rua McCallum and Hilary Halba, are guided on this journey by kaumatua5 Huata Holmes, who acts as a conduit of the knowledge given to him by his predecessors and, as his tauira,6 we are duty bound to re-interpret the knowledge and whakaaro7 which he shares. Throughout this conversational journey, we walk at Boua8 Huata's side, applying the traditional Southern Maori learning method, tü taha kê ai: 'to stand at the side of or be an adjunct to'.9 This metaphoric journey represents the pursuit of knowledge across both intercultural and transcultural paradigms.

We begin by establishing the protocols of introduction in a way that is culturally appropriate for Maori,10 and this strategy additionally sets a precedent for the article. We use the greeting forms of mihimihi" and pepeha12 respectively, both of which epitomise people, place and identity:

Hilary: Tënâ koutou, tënâ koutou, tënâ koutou katoa. 13

My name is Hilary Halba.

I was brought up in South Otago, which is where my father's family lived for two generations after they came to this country from their homeland, Poland. On my mother's side, my family are Scottish and the bones of my grandparents and great-grandparents lie in Central Otago in the beautiful land that they loved, and on which they worked and made their home. I still live in Otago, on the Otokia coast in the township of Brighton.

All my adult life I have worked in the theatre, television, film and radio industries, and in academia. I met Rua and Huata over a decade ago and, with them, have journeyed through Ta Va'i Poenemu, learning about the land and its original inhabitants. As one of Boua Huata's tauira, I listened, and applied to my other world - theatre - the whakaaro that he shared with me.

In keeping with the Maori protocol that an individual is the sum result of the ancestors and landscapes that come before him or her, Rua' s name appears at the end of her pepeha, which follows:

Rua: Mihi atu ki a koutou

Ko Aoraki te maunga tipua

Ko Waitaki te awa e rere atu ki te Tai o Araiteuru

Ko Rapuwai, Waitaha, Hâwea, Ngâti Mâmoe me Ngäi Tahu öku iwi

Ko Moeraki te papa kainga 5 öku tïpuna

Ko Rua McCallum töku ingoa

Nä reirá, tena koutou14

My encounter with Hilary was seeded simultaneously in te ao Maori15 and te ao whakaari16 when I attended Kilimogo's production of Ngä Tängata Toa by Hone Kouka.17 This was the beginning of not only a lasting friendship, but many happy bicultural theatre debates and collaborations. I met Boua Huata at about the same time, but had known of him through the tribal kumera vine18 for several years before that. His uniqueness lies in his differing worldview, his perception of the natural world and his immense understanding of te reo Maori,19 tikanga20 and mätauranga Maori21 - physical and metaphysical. Both these relationships grew out of mutual interests and each was further fulfilled by the bond of friendship.

He mihi aroha ki a körua, tënâ râ tatou katoa.22

Our collaborator, Huata Holmes, was born at sea in the deep south of Ta Va'i Poenemu and was raised in the Catlins area. He is a native speaker of a unique Southern Maori dialect23 and has been 'immersed in what he calls "the old ways'".24 As a young man, Boua Huata developed a strong relationship with the Ngäi Tahu people from Tuahiwi, where he was nurtured and trained by some learned kaumätua of that generation.27 The broad range of mätauranga Maori, of which Boua Huata is custodian, originates from these men as well as his own whänau.28 In addition, he has worked most of his adult life predominantly in the education sector as a teacher and primary school principal, and Maori advisor to the Dunedin College of Education. …

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