Reflecting on Mahuta - A Matariki Showcase

During the last week of June, Rangatira was filled with gorgeous homegrown waiata, kapa haka, dance, and storytelling at Mahuta - A Matariki Showcase. We're taking a moment to reflect on this unique, significant two-night event. 

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Maisey Rika and Majic Pāora - Q Theatre

Pictured: Maisey Rika and Majic Pāora at night one of Mahuta

Mahuta - A Matariki Showcase first began its journey in 2023 (then titled Mahuta - Music for Matariki), when Kate Ward-Smythe (Programme Manager, Kaiwhakahaere Hōtaka at Q Theatre) and Willa Cameron (Executive Support at New Zealand Music Commission | Te Reo Reka o Aotearoa) shared an insightful discussion about Matariki and identified a potential opportunity to celebrate this important time of year by uplifting Māori music artists. Following their discussion, Kate and Willa began working with their wider teams, alongside a partnership with Nadia Marsh from Te Māngai Pāho, to make Mahuta happen. The result was a fabulous three-night showcase last year, featuring music and waiata from MOHI, Jenny Mitchell & The Mitchell Twins, and Anna Coddington.

Whatua Te Ao Image 3 - Q Theatre

In June 2024, Mahuta was back in the Q whare for its second iteration, with two bold and beautiful evenings of entertainment. This year, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei came on board to help lead the kaupapa, with Majic Pāora co-producing Mahuta and bestowing her creative wisdom upon the project.  Working with Majic and Ngāti Whātua brought a deeper cultural authenticity and richness to the showcase, enhancing the celebration's connection to the land and its people. 

"Music and art is a strong way to share messages and kōrero that need to be heard. I am so grateful on behalf of my iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, to have collaborated with Q and all our other supporting organisations to share the stories and histories of our people.

The stage and space were provided to create an atmosphere like none other, and Mahuta was a chance to practice the aspirations of my ancestors to create partnerships that uplift the Mana and Mauri of our lands and people in Tāmaki." - Majic Pāora

Following on from the energy in 2023, the atmosphere at Q Theatre during Mahuta - A Matariki Showcase felt incredibly special - the venue was buzzing as performers, audiences, industry whānau, and community members all came together to celebrate Matariki. On the first night, audiences were treated to beautiful sounds and waiata from Maisey Rika and Hoea, while also raising an incredible amount of funds for Te Kia Ora Marae Kākānui. The second night saw an evening of Whātua storytelling and performance featuring waiata, dance and kapa haka. 

Mahuta Maisey Rika Evening - Q Theatre

Kate Ward-Smythe says, "I am hugely humbled by everyone leaning into the opportunity to elevate Mahuta this year to a ticketed event in Q’s largest theatre, Rangatira. I am immensely grateful to Majic Pāora for embracing this opportunity and inviting her friend Maisey Rika to join the vision, and am incredibly thankful to the entire Q team for jumping in the waka and achieving so much in just seven short weeks.

As a pākehā woman, I’ve never felt so connected to my work, to Tāmaki Makaurau, and to my friends and whānau. Mahuta was such an enriching experience and really illuminated to me the spirit of Matariki. I feel such a huge connection to this time of year and know that this feeling will stay with me for years to come." 

The success of Mahuta - A Matariki Showcase is truly a testament to the power of collaboration. The event couldn't have happened without the generous support and partnership of several organisations. Alongside Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Q Theatre, the New Zealand Music Commission, Te Māngai Pāho, and Auckland Council all played crucial roles in bringing this showcase to life and helping make it an impactful celebration of Māori artistry and culture. 

"In 2023, I played a key role in the development of this kaupapa and this year, it was inspiring to see Majic Pāora and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei take those reins - their abundant gifts and talent shone brilliantly on the Rangatira stage and I was delighted to be sitting fully engaged in the audience on both nights. I look forward to the four pou of this kaupapa bringing our connections and creativity further together, as we sail towards the 2025 season." - Willa Cameron

As we reflect on this year's event, we are filled with gratitude and inspiration - we are immensely proud to be a key part of this kaupapa and can't wait to see what the future holds for Mahuta

Whatua Te Ao Image 2 - Q Theatre

Photography credits: Te Rawhitiroa and Julie Zhu