Play­wright tack­les sen­si­tive is­sue

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

A gutsy stage play that ad­dresses the prob­lem of child abuse among Maori is un­der way this week.

Writ­ten and di­rected by Re­nae Maihi, Patua tells the story about the death of a baby at the hands of her fam­ily.

But in a twist of fate, baby Moni’s ex­tended fam­ily dis­cover the truth and give her the burial she de­serves.

Be­fore even hit­ting the stage the pro­duc­tion earned Ms Maihi Best Play by a Maori Play­wright at the re­cent Adam New Zealand Play Awards.

The writer says the pro­duc­tion mir­rors so­ci­ety but the key mes­sage is stop­ping child abuse.

‘‘We’ve seen mul­ti­ple cases of child abuse in New Zealand and though I’m not say­ing it is specif­i­cally a Maori prob­lem it is un­de­ni­ably so.’’

New Zealand has one of the high­est rates of phys­i­cal child abuse in the devel­oped world.

We also have one of the worst rates of child death by mal­treat­ment within the fam­ily; about nine chil­dren are killed in New Zealand every year by a mem­ber of their fam­ily.

Ms Maihi says she is pleased to bring this im­por­tant work to the stage as it is her be­lief that real change can only hap­pen from the inside.

‘‘So as an ‘in­sider’, ie a Maori woman, I de­cided it was nec­es­sary for me to write this play be­cause the chil­dren we have lost dur­ing my life­time is unac­cept­able.’’

Patua is a verb that means to strike, hit, beat, kill, sub­due or ill­treat.

The play has been billed as a story that will pro­voke au­di­ences to con­sider whether the wider his­tor­i­cal and so­cial is­sues fac­ing Maori have played a role in cre­at­ing the abusers.

The stel­lar cast in­cludes Wil­liam Davis, Stephen But­ter­worth and Aroha Hath­away.

Patua is on at TAPAC, 100 Mo­tions Rd, Western Springs un­til May 26.

To buy tick­ets go to tapac.org.nz or phone 845 0295.

Photo: HIONA HENARE

Brave work: Patua cast mem­bers, from left, Vin­nie Ben­nett, Ngahuia Piripi and Wil­liam Davis.

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