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