Feeling A Connection with Māori Theatre

After seeing my first Shakespeare at The PumpHouse age six I dived into theatre, with a passion, seeing as many productions as I could.

In 2016 I made the leap into acting and working behind the scenes. I’ve now begun a degree in costume and production design and hope to work in theatre in the future.

When I was young I would be with my family or at my marae frequently, however this changed when my parents separated, and we gradually grew apart. Since then I have been in a sort of limbo, trying to connect to my Maori culture but finding barriers in place preventing me from taking up a lot of opportunities.

“To be Maori and see Maori stories presented by Maori people makes me feel a sense of pride.”

I’m proud that this year, The PumpHouse Theatre, where I work, is presenting a year-long season of uniquely Maori theatre.  With Maori theatre so close to me I have a place where I can feel and express my culture with others through theatre, a passion of mine.

The season has included performances of Shot Bro, Rob Mokaraka’s personal story about depression and redemption; Heaven and Earth – Rangi and Papa, a magical glow-in-the-dark Matariki puppet show; and Te Rerenga – The Flight, the world’s first Maori rock-art puppet show.

Te Rerenga felt like home to me, the sharing of knowledge, music and whole families joining in really made this show as fantastic as it was.

I connected to Shot Bro on a bit of a different level. Within Maori families, particularly mine, the presence of mental health related illnesses is something rarely touched upon, more often dismissed than discussed.

Rob brought his struggles to the stage, and held a korero afterwards with a whole room of people – digging deep and sharing things they once thought they couldn’t. It meant so much to me and showed that there is potential for more sharing and expression to be communicated by Maori through art.

Being able to come along to a workshop and learn about Harakeke on a Saturday morning and bring home pieces that I had made felt amazing.

To be Maori and see Maori stories presented by Maori people makes me feel a sense of pride. It sparks my creativity and pushes my mind into thinking of all the ways theatre can grow and develop using Maori influence.

“The experience is personalised to the audience and woven with traditions and customs. It is warm and nurturing, like family.”

For me, Toi Takapuna provided a place close to me where I could feel Maori, and surround myself with others sharing my culture. I don’t have access to any place for that in my personal life. I didn’t need to be fluent in Te Reo to come and see these shows, I didn’t need to be a history expert, I just needed to be open, to want to learn, and to listen.

The environment of these shows cannot be compared to regular theatre.

They aren’t ‘typical’ in the sense of turning up, seeing a nice show and heading home. Instead, you are welcomed and made a part of the show.

The experience is personalised to the audience and woven with traditions and customs. It is warm and nurturing, like family, with the sole objective of sharing stories and history together, presented in such a way that they can be enjoyed by anyone.

Afterwards everyone can stay and korero, share kai and digest the performance – audiences and performers together.

Integrating this culture into our community events and theatre should be encouraged and Toi Takapuna is a great step towards that goal.

Coming up next as part of Toi Takapuna is Kōrero Pūrākau – Maori Storytelling.  I’m so excited to be able to experience the legendary Rawiri Paratene acting as mentor, director and storyteller alongside young people just like me, working together to create a brand new, and uniquely New Zealand, piece of theatre.

I truly believe that anyone would benefit from coming to see this show. It is exciting, beautifully told and an experience like no other in the world.

Aria is from Ngati Raukawa and her marae is Tangata Marae, Matamata. She is a costume designer and actor, studying production design and management at Unitec, and works in The PumpHouse Box Office.

Kōrero Pūrākau is a short season of Maori storytelling in English and te reo Maori for tamariki and rangatahi at the PumpHouse in Takapuna, from Thursday September 6 to Saturday, September 8.


Post Credit, The Big Idea.

North Shore Concert Band 40th Anniversary

Members of the North Shore Concert Band are celebrating the group’s 40th anniversary this year with a special concert at the PumpHouse Theatre on Sunday 5th August.

The band was started in 1978 by three musicians who realised that there were very few opportunities for musicians to perform in a band once they had left school. Two of those founders, Colin Hill and Peter Ward will be playing with the band this year along with several other members who have been with the band for most of that time.

The band’s aim was, and still is, to provide an opportunity for adult musicians of all ages and varying skill levels to make music together and to share it with the wider community.

Originally called the Shoreside Concert Band, changed to North Shore Concert Band in 1993 the group includes brass, woodwind, string bass, and percussion instruments.

They have played music at a huge variety of venues over the years, including schools, churches, theatres, shopping malls, parks, retirement villages and Christmas Parades.

As well as encouraging local musicians to keep up and improve their skills, the North Shore Concert Band has been a great training ground for learner conductors. From 1990 to 1994, the band was led by a young man called Peter Thomas, who is now highly renowned as the conductor of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

The PumpHouse Theatre have hosted the North Shore Concert Band for most of these past 40 years. The band took part in The PumpHouse’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2017 and is proud to be celebrating their own milestone there this year.

Join us for a very special celebration.

40th Anniversary Concert, Sunday 5th August, 2pm
Tickets from www.pumphouse.co.nz

North Shore Theatre and Arts Trust AGM 2018

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the North Shore Theatre & Arts Trust will be held on Wednesday, 22 August 2018.

The Trust operates The PumpHouse Theatre with members of the Trust Board drawn from Friends of The PumpHouse.

At the AGM we present the theatre’s achievements over the last 12 months and our plans for the future. This year we’ll be joined by guest speaker Richard McWha, head of Community Arts and Culture at Auckland Council

AGM 2018 Agenda – North Shore Theatre and Arts Trust

Join our Board

There are vacancies for Board members this year, and nominations are invited from those interested in joining. Any inquiries about Board roles can be made to to Peter Burn, Trust Chairperson on 021 265 9697. Nomination forms are available below, or from James Bell, Business Manager at the PumpHouse Theatre by emailing james@pumphouse.co.nz

Trustee Nomination Form 2018

Attending the AGM

All members of our community are welcome to attend. We ask that you please RSVP by emailing info@pumphouse.co.nz for catering purposes.

The details are as follows:

Date: Wednesday, 22 August 2017
Time: Refreshments from 6:30 pm
Venue: The French Rendez-vous Cafe, Killarney Park, Takapuna

We hope to see you there.

The Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Returns

The old saying “If you’re onto a good thing, stick with it” may well have been followed by Shoreside Theatre as they prepare for another Agatha Christie murder mystery.

Towards Zero is the sixth enthralling mid-winter whodunit by this author to be presented in The PumpHouse Theatre of Takapuna. Five earlier productions written by Christie, one of the best selling authors of all time, have been enthusiastically  received. She is still the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’ who sold more than four billion copies of her detective novels and short story collections.

In this years mid-winter offering , Lady Tresillian has invited guests, a motley collection of characters as you ever will find, to her home for a house-party but earlier events ensure a dramatic turn. Nothing is as it seems and suspense, uncertainty and red-herrings play out in the house on the edge of the perilous Cornish cliffs.  It’s all part of  a carefully laid plan for murder.  The so-called ‘Cornish Riviera’ is famous for many things – Jamaica Inn, the Beast of Bodmin, pirates and pasties – but perhaps it is best known for murder or Agatha Christie’s inspiration for it at least. It is also Poldark, Doc Martin and The Camomile Lawn  country.

Towards Zero is often thought to be one of Agatha Christie’s finest stories and is brought to life on stage by a stellar Shoreside Theatre cast that relishes in its annual portrayal of her eccentric and memorable characters. It’s the vivid depiction of Christie characters living in the shadow of an impending disaster which substantially contributes to such a high voltage story of rivalry passion and revenge.

Director, Carol Dumbleton as a young girl in the sixties knew Dame Agatha well   when she was a regular guest at her parents’  West Country hotel.  The Cornish setting of ‘Towards Zero” evokes nostalgic memories for Carol, being Cornish herself.  This rarely performed drama is set in the 1930s and Shoreside Theatre has endeavoured for over three years to gain approval from the Agatha Christie Trust to present it on stage in New Zealand.

26th July – 4th August. Book Tickets.


TORO PIKOPIKO PUPPETS present the world’s first Māori Rock-Art Puppet Production. Jeffrey Addison (Ngai Tahu) and Whaitaima Te Whare (Ngati Tuwharetoa) are a dynamic performance duo with 22 years’ experience creating television programs for children and touring live puppet shows. THE FLIGHT- TE RERENGA will be their most stunning, interactive and fun show they have ever made.

THE FLIGHT – TE RERENGA is an acoustic rock musical, featuring 100 fabulous ‘Flatso’ puppets inspired from ancient cave drawings made on Limestone cliffs and caves around the Timaru district. The show re-tells a Ngai Tahu legend about Pourangahua the Birdman and his epic flight to Aotearoa in search of his own kind. The Birdman flies from cave to cave, meeting a host of colourful characters including Bats, Creepy Crawlies, Moa, Pouakai Eagles, Human Bird Hunters and their Dogs – intent on making Pourangahua their next meal.THE FLIGHT – TE RERENGA is a forty-five-minute show, with 8 catchy original songs written especially for years 1 – 8 primary school children. This engaging production takes its audience back in time hundreds of years where they help animate a multitude of rock art puppets who meet up with the Birdman, while she is searching for her whanau. Children both watch and learn about our cultural heritage by taking part in this historic awakening of prehistoric rock art figures that have previously been fixed images on cliff walls and cave ceilings.

With research and development funding from Creative NZ, THE FLIGHT – TE RERENGA is a result of a collaboration with the staff of Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in Timaru. Their aim is to increase the appreciation and awareness of indigenous Rock Art among the nation’s children, so that they may value and help protect these vulnerable national treasures in the future.

Thanks to the support of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, entry to Te Rerenga is by Koha (donation). Bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment.

Book your tickets here. 14 – 15 July. Coal Bunker Studio, The PumpHouse Theatre.

Farewell to Tiger

Today we said a sad farewell to our furry friend Tiger, the PumpHouse Cat.

Tiger had not been well lately, and tests at the vet revealed an inoperable tumour in his stomach.

Tiger joined The PumpHouse team in 2011. Shy and timid, he was discovered by caretaker Mike Murphy sleeping in the shrubs.

After two years of careful care and attention Tiger and Mike became firm friends and would often be found keeping each other company while Mike looked after the theatre, singing along to opera together at the tops of their voices.

Tiger also enjoyed making the odd appearance on stage, his loud meow breaking the tension of many dramatic scenes during Shakespeare in the Park.

Tiger was fed and cared for by The PumpHouse Theatre staff, and in return he helped keep the theatre free from mice and rats and kept an eye on things during performances.

Mike was Tiger’s best human friend, but he also took a shine to Gill and then later Stephen during his time at The PumpHouse.

We’ll remember Tiger for his loud yowls for attention and the moments he let his guard down and allowed a friendly pat before running off to go about his busy theatre business.

Margaret Mahy Stories on Stage for School Holidays

Three quirky tales by much-loved children’s writer Margaret Mahy come to life on stage in Auckland for the July school holidays.

Auckland’s leading children’s theatre company, Tim Bray Productions presents The Great White Man-Eating Shark and Other Stories here at the PumpHouse Theatre, from Saturday 30th June to Saturday 21st July.

Adapted for the stage by Tim Bray with music by Takapuna composer Marshall Smith, this is the first time these three stories have been staged by the company and director Tim Bray says he is excited to bring this trio of tales to life.

“Along with many of New Zealand’s children, I’ve had a lifelong love of Margaret Mahy’s stories and we’ve adapted a number for the stage. Margaret Mahy stories have something very special about them with quirky characters who appeal to children’s imaginations.”

The title story, The Great White Man-Eating Shark tells the story of Norvin, a boy who loves swimming in the bay but wishes he could swim as fast as he can without other swimmers getting in his way. He finds a novel way to have the water all to himself. But is he alone?

Also featuring in the production is The Boy with Two Shadows: having your own shadow is one thing, but when you agree to look after a witch’s one then the troubles begin, along with Mahy’s The Boy who was Followed Home: ever been followed home by a hippo, or two? Imagine what Mum says when she finds them in your front garden!

A cast of four play 15 characters across the three stories with Dylan Underwood as Norvin and in the Boy roles. Erica Kröger, Kat Glass and Calum Hughes share the remaining characters with music performed live by Oliver Huang-Hsu.

“This is a tricky trio of stories to stage in one show,” Tim says. “And set designer Rachael Walker, costume designer Vicki Slow and lighting designer Steve Marshall are coming up with clever solutions to overcome the challenges.”

Children are encouraged to dress up as a character from the show for the onstage Costume Parade at the gala and every school holiday season performance.

From Saturday 30 June at 5pm and running until Saturday 21 July. Book your tickets here.

A Day In The Life Of A PumpHouse Volunteer – Brenda

If Brenda were a bottle of wine, she’d be on the top shelf.

We like to think of her as The PumpHouse Detective; her super investigative skills mean you’re never safe when the petty cash doesn’t add up.

She’s been to all four corners of the globe and still hasn’t found the cure for the travel bug. Whilst broadening her horizons, she’s also being Superwoman, approving our bank transfers from wherever she is.

Brenda may talk about accounts a lot in her interview, but she is a real supporter of the variety of events at The PumpHouse. When she takes the cape off, you can often find her sitting in amongst the audience, just a regular Clark Kent.

Brenda is what all true legends are made of. Thank you for all your hard work, and the immeasurable contribution you make to The PumpHouse.


Tell us five random facts about yourself

I was born in the Falkland Islands and came to NZ when I was 13 years old.

My career has been in tax mostly, as an investigator for the IRD.

I have four wonderful cricket/soccer obsessed grandsons.

I volunteer in a Hospice shop weekly, at a St Vincent de Paul shop monthly, and occasionally drive for Age Concern.

I love to travel!

How did you come to volunteer at The PumpHouse Theatre?

Several years ago, I was approached by Genevieve Becroft. The Trust needed a treasurer – and that was that!

What roles and tasks do you do at The PumpHouse?

Well, I’m definitely kept busy:

  1. Treasurer of the Trust Board
  2. Help with monthly accounts
  3. Prepare the annual Trust accounts for the auditor and present them at the AGM
  4. Box office/ Ushering

Have you studied anything that helped you in the role?

I was a chartered accountant in my working life so am experienced in putting accounts together.

When did you start getting involved in the performing arts?

Through my involvement with the PumpHouse. I have no artistic talent whatsoever and stand in awe of those who can remember their lines and perform on stage!

What do you like about volunteering here?

The PumpHouse is a great venue, the building is historic and beautiful and the Genevieve Becroft Auditorium is an intimate space with good views from every seat. The staff are all very efficient and friendly so it is a pleasure to be there.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your job recently

Ushering in the school children who came to see Rangi and Papa and to experience their excitement and enjoyment of the show.

What do you do behind the scenes that people don’t know?

Only the accounts.*

What’s your all-time favourite show?

I really enjoyed Les Miserable and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  My recent favourite is the Tadpole production of The Book Club.



A Day In The Life Of The PumpHouse Staff – Stephen

Have you met Stephen?

Stephen is our effervescent Technical and Venue coordinator. To say he has a technical mind, would be a gross understatement. He’s been moving light buttons (yes that’s the technical term) since he could he flex a finger yet there’s more than meets the eye to our super-geek techie.

Eschewing the carefully nurtured computer-geek stereotype (sorry, I mean “scientific hipster”), Stephen chose to study English Literature at University. Fortunately for us, he’s no one-trick-pony and his love for computers led him to his job as Technical and Venues support. Fulfilling the computer geek stereotype, he is also a keen gamer and a lifelong “only original” Space Invader fan.

When Stephen isn’t busy lighting up our world, he can be found, well, lighting up other people’s worlds. Either literally (through more lighting) or through his beautiful Morris dancing.

Be warned, Stephen’s ‘amiable geek’ persona is hiding a sense of humour so dry it can desiccate a mango.

Also, his main claim to fame around here is being BFFL with local celebrity Tiger the Cat. Just sayin’.


Tell us five random facts about yourself

  • A few years ago, I wrote a Space Invaders-style computer game called Locusts that you can play in a web browser, but only if your device has a physical keyboard. It features sound effects and a permanent high score table, and here’s a link to it – http://cookiecuttermedia.com/games
  • I’m one of the many people who used to live in Palmerston North – I moved there to study at Massey University, and then moved away again years later to study at Massey a second time: This time in the Auckland suburb of Albany.
  • I live south of the large natural barrier known as Waitemata Harbour, but work and do most of my activities on the North Shore – showing that a mere geographical impediment is no real barrier at all!
  • I occasionally play the guitar, but never use a guitar pick while playing, as when I was learning how to play, I kept on being told that I was holding the pick wrong, so I just stopped using one.
  • I don’t have any pets, but every few months I spend about a week house/pet sitting in Glen Eden for a woman I used to board with – she has a Border Collie dog who loves everyone from the moment he sees them, and two cats who only come near me because they already know me.

How did you come to work at The Pumphouse Theatre?

By accumulating skills that I never thought would end up leading to a job!

What did you study and has it helped you in the role?

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science. There are many books and plays that I wouldn’t have read if I hadn’t been forced to… I mean if I hadn’t had the pleasure of reading them during my studies, and when I write articles like this for the PumpHouse, I can refer to a few gimmicky web-based games and applications that I’ve put together.

When did you start getting involved in the performing arts?

In 1991, I was in the ensemble cast of a school production of Oh What a Lovely War: I remember getting my fake moustache hair-sprayed by a makeup person while I was wearing it.

 What do you like about working here?

No two days are the same, it’s nice helping people to bring their visions to life, and the picturesque surroundings are great!

 What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your job recently?

When Russian opera singer Nikolay Leonov performed at the PumpHouse in January, I noticed that people who’d gathered around the pier in front of the theatre to have a party waited until Nikolay had finished singing before turning on their loud music. This is something I noticed instead of did, but it makes a nice story anyway.

What do you do behind the scenes that people don’t know?

Sometimes, our security monitoring service calls me when one of our theatre’s users accidentally sets off the PumpHouse’s security alarm before entering their access code into the alarm’s PINpad. The PumpHouse also has security cameras that I can check via an app on my phone, so it usually doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on!

What do you get up to after hours?

Morris Dancing (traditional village dancing from England), setting up sound and lighting in other places, and occasionally buying vinyl records that aren’t too scratched.

 What do you get up to on your lunch breaks?

Avoid the hungry beaks and stares of the lakeside birdlife.

 What’s your all-time favourite show?

“The Love of the Nightingale” by Timberlake Wertenbaker – it’s an adaptation of the Ancient Greek legend about gruesome deeds performed on and the subsequent revenge of sisters Philomele and Procne. It was the “end of course” play performed by a class at Massey’s Palmerston North Campus in 2008, which I was only lucky enough to find out about and see because I knew a few people doing the course. It very impactfully deals with strong and important themes.

Behind Morningstar

What’s That?

It’s a devil of a play called Morningstar, set a year after Eden was first created, when Lucifer returns to Heaven — and the likes of angels Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Lucifer — to find his family fractured.

Two of their numbers, Archangel’s Michael the Protector and Lucifer the Light Bearer, are battling to divide heaven leading to a conflict so great that the birth of hell results. It sounds like dramatic stuff but Strang, a family lawyer, says it’s actually a sadly recognisable scenario especially to anyone in his line of work.

“Dad’s gone off and started a second family; now he’s come back to his first family but, in his absence, things have changed and there’s conflict.”

Dionne Christian, NZ Herald.


Sapphire Productions is back for another action-packed production set to outshine their last season of ‘Nigel’, (Kate McDermott).

The founder of Sapphire Productions is none other than Blair Strang (Shortland Street, Nothing Trivial), pairing up with old onscreen flame Romy Hooper (Nothing Trivial, Pop up Globe). Better known for there onscreen ‘partnership’ in Nothing Trivial as Brian and Courtney for three seasons it saw the pair give birth to baby Sonny Bill and now sees them giving birth to something quite different.

Knowing that they had a good working relationship has seen them treading the boards together several times over the past few years and spurred Blair into business mode creating Sapphire Productions. Now Romy steps into the directors chair as Blair stars in and produces the play by their mutual friend Albert Belz.  

The Cast Also Includes

Jacqui Nauman (Auckland Daze, Nothing Trivial), Richie Grzyb (Under the Mountain, Niusila), Stephen Brunton (Yours Truly, Nigel), Marwin Silerio (Nigel, Niusila).









The Narrative

Set against the backdrop of Heaven and Eden after its first year of creation, we meet one of the most famous family’s in history as they reunite, only to realise that they’ve all changed in their own way posing new challenges behind the pearly gates.

At the most tested time of their devotion, and their father nowhere to be seen the two elder brothers divide the host of Heaven with a conflict so great we see the birth of Hell.

The situation is only heightened by the fact that the two elder brothers are Archangel’s Michael the Protector and Lucifer the Light Bearer.

Father has to be found, ‘come Hell or high water’ and Lucifer plans to find him. Buckle in for an incredible night out as the war in Heaven has just begun…

Jun 7th – 16th. The PumpHouse Theatre.
Book Tickets or Call (09) 486 2386.

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