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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Circus meets Māori culture in Te Tangi a te Tūī

The Cultch and Urban Ink present the world premiere of Te Tangi a te Tūī at the York Theatre from October 19-29.

The Cultch and Urban Ink present the world premiere of Te Tangi a te Tūī (The Song of the Tui), a collaboration between Auckland-based Māori theatre company Te Rēhia Theatre and Aotearoa’s (New Zealand) The Dust Palace, the cirque theatre company which has previously visited Vancouver with The Goblin Market and WonderWombs.

The Tūī (Indigenous songbird) soaks up the world around it and responds in song. Though beautiful, his tune now is a faint echo from when Aotearoa was blanketed in the ngāhere (forest), flutes of patupaiarehe (fairy folk) filled the trees and Māori alone walked gently upon their mother. The loss of the original voice of the Tūī parallels the forces of loss and regeneration of te reo Māori (Māori language). Telling a tale that spans generations, this show weaves together ancient stories from the land with urban experiences like assimilation and the breakneck “urban drift” of Māori that led to detachment from land, language and mātauranga (knowledge).

Told entirely in te reo Māori (the Māori language), Te Tangi a te Tūī was first presented as a documentary about the making of the show as part of Urban Ink and The Cultch’s digital TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival in spring 2023 and now as alive experience that fuses Māori culture with the artistry of the circus.

“For me, the coming together of the circus and the theatre, what we are able to offer people is that they can be engaged in story and be really in their body at the same time,” says co-writer Amber Curreen. “They are seeing these bodies doing these amazing things that make your heart rate rise, pull you forward in your seat, then push you back, and it positions you really in your body, not just your mind.”

The Cultch and Urban Ink present Te Tangi a te Tūī at the York Theatre (639 Commercial Dr, Vancouver) from October 19-29. Visit for tickets and information.

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