Entertainment | Mental Health

Play inspired by Māori adoption covering grief and healing coming to Auckland

Actors Joe-Dekkers Reihana and Tuakoi Ohia in The Sun and the Wind. Source: File

A play inspired by whāngai, Māori adoption, will make its Auckland debut in March challenging the colonised ideals of how to best to deal with grief.

The Sun and the Wind tackles themes of grief, hope, love and loss and was written by Tainui Tukiwaho and produced by his brother Borni Tukiwaho.

The story is about a couple who are caught offguard by two burglars and mistake them for their deceased son and his wife. It was inspired by the whāngai, Māori adoption, of the Tukiwaho brothers’ mother when she was a baby. Their mother reconnected with her biological whānau in her adult years and saw how her adoption impacted her birth father.

Tainui says, “The Sun and the Wind is a story from a Māori-specific lens, exploring how the depths of despair, and loss of one’s child, can shape how we navigate our world and the long-lasting impact grief has on the well-being of our people.”

Actor Julie Edwards in her award-winning role in The Sun and the Wind.

The play has been produced under Borni’s theatre company, Taurima Vibes. The company aims to give a voice to marginalised and undervalued communities, and bridge the gap between the privileged and under-resourced.

“This play has been crafted to generate insightful kōrero, provoke and challenge the colonised ideals that we are constantly told are the ‘best’ ways to deal with our grief and mental health needs and asks the question: How do we reclaim our own means of healing?” Borni says.

The Sun and the Wind stars Taungaroa Emile, Joe Dekkers-Reihana, Tuakoi Ohia, and Julie Edwards, who won the Best Actress prize at the 2023 Wellington Theatre Awards for her role. It’s directed by Edward Peni.

Tainui says the production will engage audiences of all ages with its dynamic storytelling, compelling characters, and visually stunning and award winning performances.

“Our team has meticulously crafted a production that merges traditional Māori storytelling techniques with cutting-edge stagecraft, promising an immersive and unforgettable experience,” he says.

The Sun and the Wind was a finalist at the prestigious Adams Playwriting Award in 2022 and has been performed in Wellington. The production will tour regionally after its Auckland performances at Q Theatre from March 20 to 24.