Kaiwhakaari wāhine stir it up on stage in Whangarei

From Te Tai Tokerau to Waihōpai (Invercargill), E Tū Whānau’s tikanga Māori kaupapa continues to influence and support whānau as they change their relationships and communities for the better.

‘Chocolate Bliss Balls’ Theatre Collective used kōrero in the E Tū Whānau values series of resources in the development of their courageous and, hilarious production of ‘Sass’ at the Whangarei Fringe festival held at the end of 2020.

“It’s all about relationships – with ourselves, our whānau and the taiao around us,” says producer, Tema Kwan Fenton.

“E Tū Whānau weaves into our kaupapa so well through its ideas around mana manaaki, tikanga, aroha and of course whānau.”

‘Sass’ talked about everything – sex, love and politics, honesty, responsibility and respect – and audience participation was central to both the show and the kōrero afterwards.

“It’s a genius way to have a hardcore kōrero around relationships,” says E Tū Whānau stalwart Shirleyanne Brown.

“They used humour and stagecraft to talk about the hardcore stuff, to challenge assumptions and get whānau talking honestly about things that really matter.”

“Some of those things are still taboo for a lot of people but the show provided a safe, supportive environment to kōrero, so it really worked,” she said.


Audience responses to the premiere of Sass

And talk they did, both during and after the show. Here are some of the comments from those who were there:

“It was amazing, hilarious, real.”

“Such a good way to talk about stuff. My aunt went up to the producer afterwards and suggested their next show should be about mental health.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it. So intimate and so funny.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing sometimes.”

Audience and cast of Sass after the show

Audience and cast of Sass buzzing after the show

Tema Kwan Fenton, Director Noa Campbell, and Olivia Carrington-Hall are the wāhine behind the Chocolate Bliss Balls Collective. ‘Sass’ is their first production. It premiered at the Whangarei Fringe Festival in October.

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