Being a disconnected, “quarter-caste” Māori

Posted on September 18, 2016 by Basement

Our blogger Jonty had a chat to Hayley Sproull on her upcoming show Vanilla Miraka, opening in the Theatre this Tuesday.

Were there any particular experiences that inspired the show?

I came back from a trip to India to find out my Nana had passed away. She’s the woman I get my quarter-Māori from, and I felt like I instantly lost that connection to ‘Māoriness’ once she had gone. A few years later I was feeling this disconnect quite strongly as I was being thrown into lots of encounters with Māori culture where I felt completely useless, completely ashamed and completely shut out. So naturally I wrote some songs and some jokes and I made a show!

Moving from Wellington to Auckland [my mistake, took Milky Bits too literally...] have you seen a difference in the awareness of Māori culture? I don’t live in Auckland! I live in Wellington but have been working a lot in Auckland the past few years so people tend to assume I’ve moved there. I love living in my home town and don’t mind travelling for work. In terms of awareness of Māori culture between the two cities, I don’t notice a massive difference, but the people I tend to surround myself with are very multi-cultural anyway and have an interest in exploring many cultures, so my view of how Wellington and Auckland engage with Māori culture is probably quite skewed.

What shows / writers do you draw inspiration from?

I’m inspired by many of my friends, and am often in awe of the work they create. I collaborate with saucy creatives like Chris Parker, Leon Wadham, Jo Randerson (who is directing Vanilla Miraka) often because I find our desire to speak a certain way about certain things aligns very well. I’m always looking for opportunities to create with hilarious, opinionated, slightly out of the box people and I don’t ever want to make something that looks like anything else.

Was there anything that surprised you during the development of the show?

How angry some people were, how moved some people were, how challenged I was.

I’ve made this show seem horribly serious. It isn’t.

Vanilla Miraka is on from the 20 – 24 September in the Theatre. You can read more of Jonty’s writing on his blog.