Play confronts reality of child abuse
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 brave production has earned Ms Maihi the 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 family member.
Ms Maihi says she is pleased to bring this important work to the stage because 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 means to strike, beat, kill, subdue or ill-treat.
The play has been billed as a story that will provoke audiences to consider whether the historical and social issues facing Maori played a role in creating the abusers. The stellar cast includes William Davis, Stephen Butterworth and Aroha Hathaway.
Brave work: Patua cast members, from left: Vinnie Bennett, Ngahuia Piripi and William Davis.