|dc.description.abstract||The theatrical review group Maranga Mai, emerging out of the political unrest of the 1970s, used drama to challenge New Zealand’s ideology of one people and dispel the myth that Māori and Pākehā (a person of predominantly European descent) lived in racial utopia. Maranga Mai used agit-prop theatre to dramatise Māori grievances and struggles against Pākehā hegemony, which were seen as a direct threat to Pākehā definitions of reality (Potiki “Whatungarongaro” 62). Despite the amateur nature of these early Māori theatre groups, it was the power of these Māori-centred stories being told by Maranga Mai that caused social disruption at the time (Walker 226). Looking to Māori activism, through theatre, in the 1970s, and the development of Marae theatre in the 1980s and 90s has been pivotal in considering how I might use theatre to address the current health inequities that exist between Māori and non-Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand. What theatre techniques could best be examined, along with Māori approaches and theatre practices that would best present an audience with an authentic voice about the current health issues impacting Maoridom?
This thesis explores how verbatim theatre, a sub-genre of documentary theatre, can be used to document people’s experiences of hauora (breath of life, health) along with using pūrākau (fact-based story) dramaturgically. This thesis examines the genesis of Māori theatre (a hybrid grounded in Kaupapa Māori, which embraces Western theatre practices (Kouka “Re-Colonising the Natives” 241)) in order to examine frameworks for representing Māori people’s testimonies, and Western documentary theatre practices; reflects on my own personal experiences of working with Māori and verbatim theatre techniques; describes the steps I took to devise a one-woman verbatim play (Barrier Ninja: A Unique Verbatim Play about Hauora) about hauora, and discusses the methodologies used to guide the performance approach. Also described are the feedback and dialogue with the audience collected during the poroporoaki (farewell) at the end of the performance of Barrier Ninja. This audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive and included comments and observations about the power of the stories, theatre of the real and the play’s ability to reflect audience members’ personal experiences of hauora.
In conclusion, verbatim theatre techniques and elements of Māori theatre, when woven together using the principles of Kaupapa Māori, create an authentic theatrical hybrid. This theatre hybrid not only contributes to theatre praxis in Aotearoa New Zealand but also helps draw attention to the current health inequities that exist in the provision of healthcare for Māori.||