Circus meets symphony in Ngāi Tahu creation story

March 29, 2021

Dance, circus and Māori martial arts are woven together with music performed by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in a new show telling a distinctly South Island creation story.

Tūmahana, the result of a collaboration between Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Wheke, Cirko Kali, and the CSO, will premiere at the Christchurch Town Hall on Saturday 27 March.

Artistic Director Juanita Hepi (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Wheke), a University of Canterbury (UC) Master of Education graduate and current UC Children’s University Manager, says her goal is to bring to life on stage a creation narrative that is particular to Te Waipounamu (the South Island) but also universal.

Hepi’s 15-year-old son Manu Lee Syme-Hepi, (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Wai, Ngāpuhi, Waitaha) is one of the nine performers involved in Tūmahana, playing Tāne. Manu’s father Danny Lee Syme, founder of Cirko Kali, is Co-Director of the show as well as performing in it.

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