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A love song of mana wahine – Witi’s Wahine

Marina Jones (Year 13)

On 16 May 2023, our senior drama classes had the privilege of watching Witi’s Wahine at the ASB Waterfront Theatre. This experience was great for our drama students to take notes for future assessments, including an epic theatre unit that both Year 12 and 13s are doing this term.

“…I remember, three generations of women bending and culling through the scrub, the steam curling off their work clothes as they ascended the hills.” This quote was one of the many impactful quotes that were performed in the play. The phenomenal women of Witi Ihimaera’s writing, including The Parihaka Woman, The Matriarch and Pounamu Pounamu, take focus and lead us powerfully through the universe of Rongopai (the wharenui at Waituhi) to reveal what lies deep behind the veil of a world we think we know and occupy.

Witi’s wāhine are distinct from one another, where time, situations and context overlap into a single thread: a cord that draws sustenance from the whenua, from onamata – the past. This wisdom anchors us in the inamata (present), toward an unknown anamata (future).

This play was so moving, with many elements of epic theatre, cultural movements, songs, and other elements of powerful drama. We were blown away by the talents of everyone involved in this playwright. Our students were amazed by all the hard work that was put in the show and left many of them wanting to learn more about Witi’s stories.

Thank you to Mrs Oliver and the other staff that made this trip possible. It was truly a breath-taking experience which we all took something away from.