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"the capacity audience was hardly breathing..."

  • Through the Te Rakau Charitable Trust the Te Waka Toi O Ngati Toa Theatre Marae performance programme was devised by Jim Moriarty for the youth of Porirua.


  • To give participants the opportunity of devising, working on and taking a project through to completion.

    To motivate young people to a point where they are more work-ready and employment focused.

    To help the young participants in the project take ownership of the consequences of their actions, understand how the past impacts on the present and become drug and alcohol free during the process.


  • Porirua’s project for youth, Theatre Marae, was undertaken under the direction of Jim Moriarty and based on a unique form of drama that has been successfully performed in schools, remand centres, prisons and at-risk communities throughout New Zealand.

    There were 80 participants aged 13-17 who were located through direct referral by Ngati Toa Rangitira or by referral from Work and Income, the police, the Courts,CYFS, social service organisations,, and other community/marae based groups and from Kura/Secondary and Intermediate schools.

    It is a demanding but supportive 12 week programme directed by Jim Moriarty and 15 facilitators, and utilising tikanga Maori philosophies and protocols together with group therapy and modern theatre techniques to create a rehabilitative process.

    Within this programme the young people share their stories - of past hurts and future dreams and these stories form the base of the script and the performance. They learn to write their own songs and music and are involved in choreography, set and costume design and advertising/promotion. They also learned acting techniques, Kapa Haka and some Te Reo Maori..

    The project culminated in performances in front of their school peers, relatives, on the marae etc.


  • Employment Catalyst, through the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs gave $20,000 towards this project.


  • On day one of the course many of the participants could not lift their heads or say their names to the group. In just over three months they had created a piece of mesmerising theatre and had performed before 6000 people at a variety of venues.

    When the project finished, 100% of participants had increased confidence. They had worked with facilitators to create an aftercare/work plan and 20% continued with Te Rakau. Of these, 9 young people remained with Te Rakau and are now at trainee facilitator level and have undertaken a ten week tour of the South Island.

    “As this large group of “at risk” youth told their stories of what had gone wrong in their short lives, the capacity audience was hardly breathing - the aroha of the audience tells the young performers that they believe their stories…Moriarty’s vision instils a confidence in the tellers of these dreadful tales that they CAN move out of the dark into a better life.”
    Jennifer Shennan (Dominion Post review)

    A small crew filmed the whole course - it may become a documentary!!

    Work and Income NZ
    Community Employment Group
    Ngati Toa Rangitira
    T.G. McCarthy Trust
    Fledgling Trust
    The ‘G’ Trust
    Porirua Licensing Trustd
    Wellington City Council

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    Department of Work and Income

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    Community Employment

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    Ngati Toa Rangatira

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    T.G. Macarthy Trust

    Fledgling Trust

    The "G" Trust

    Porirua Licensing Trust

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    Wellington City Council

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    "There were many positive outcomes for the dozens of our young people from Porirua and its environs who participated in "Te Waka Toi Ngati Toa's Theatre Marae performance programme". Of Ngati Tao descent himself Jim Moriarty and his team committed themselves totally to make this experience for our young mainly Maori people a positive one...This experience moved many of our most vulnerable young people out of being stuck at home with no job or qualifications and feeling pretty desperate into seeing possibilities and starting to believe in themselves."
    Jenny Brash, Mayor of Porirua

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    Project Contacts

    Melissa Crockett

    Te Rakau O Te Wao Tapu Trust