Jonty spoke to Gareth Farry about the lost prophets, the inspiration, the process, and the journey developing Poropiti.
What was the original inspiration behind the show?
Initially we wanted to tell the story of historical Maori figures who were really unknown to most of us. We wanted to understand more about why they weren't in NZ history books, or school curriculum. The more we researched the more we were astounded at some of the stories of peaceful resistance, miracles being performed and the like, so wanted to tell some of these stories. I also wanted to push some of my musician friends into working more on stagecraft and also across arts genres.
Developing the show what did you learn about the Māori prophetic movements and their leaders?
We learnt they were amazing people, who had an incredible amount of patience and forbearance when dealing with the British Crown, who basically went full steam ahead in the 1900s before and after the treaty to confiscate land and destroy communities.
The leaders forged spiritual practices from a combination of Tohunga indigenous beliefs, Christian beliefs from the Bible and spiritual revelations.
The Bible, although a missionary and colonial document as such, also contained many stories of people being freed from capture and getting the assistance of God - so it almost had a reverse effect in some instances perhaps from what the missionaries perceived might be the case
What has been the most difficult part of the production?
Just finishing the piece and being happy with showing it to the world. Its been a long process and as I have discovered really with theatre every step you take can potentially lead you into a completely new direction, or a million potential varieties of expression. That makes it quite full on and potentially confusing moving forward with consensus.
Was the mixture of movement, song, sound and theatre there from the start, or did it come as part of the development of the show?
It was from the start we wanted to mix music with theatre and some dance. That was decided right away.
What reaction are you hoping the show gets?
I hope people are moved by the subtle beauty of the show. I hope they are moved by the performances and the messages and I hope they leave questioning why they didn't know more about Maori prophets and with a desire to find out more. I think NZ needs to mature as a country and come to terms with our past - and then allow Maori reo and culture to take its rightful place in a new equitable country.
What does Matariki mean to you?
Celebration of astrology, earth respect and Maoritanga. An alignment with other native and nature religions on the globe.