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Te Wheke

Te Wheke is a powerful new full-length dance work from Atamira Dance Company, the inspirational collective that this year commemorates their 21st year as the leading creator and presenter of Māori contemporary dance. Eight dancers and eight practitioners both tuakana and teina, explore the dimensions of human experience symbolsied by the eight tentacles of the mighty Te Wheke, in this explosive new contemporary dance work.

“Atamira wanted to represent the legacy of the many artists who have contributed over the years, and instead of a retrospective collection we are producing something that holds all the hallmarks of what has made our mahi so integral to the dance landscape of Tāmaki Makaurau” says founding member and Artistic Director, Jack Gray.

Te Wheke refers to the Octopus, our guardian on this long journey from past into future, activating healing now in this time we all share. Solo and ensemble expressions of darkness and light occur within shape shifting worlds of floating black silk. Layers of symbolism emanate through magical AV patterning and mesmeric soundscapes with lighting enhancing all - both revealing and hiding.

“Twenty one years ago, when Atamira Dance Collective was founded there was no Māori TV or radio,” says Gray. “As young urban Māori we wanted to see ourselves. Dance has always been the platform by which we can transpose timeframes and look at things from our tīpuna. Young Māori in 2021 feel empowered and global. So with this work we embody the symbolic bones of the past as we gesture towards future potential.”

Te Wheke is a powerful tohu for many Oceanic peoples, appearing in different mythologies. This guardian of the seas has many strengths and abilities. “When the name ‘Te Wheke came to us we discovered the late Rangimarie Rose Pere’s model of hauora which aligned a Mātauranga Maori dimension of health and wellbeing to each of the eight tentacles. We chose to honour her model in our choreographic structure”, says Executive Director Marama Lloydd

Some of Aotearoa’s leading names in dance are involved in this milestone production, including Sean MacDonald, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Jack Gray, Dolina Wehipeihana, Gabrielle Thomas, Kura Te Ua, Bianca Hyslop and Louise Potiki Bryant, who foster the performance of some exceptional experienced and emerging talents. Te Whānau Atamira have come out in force to mark this momentous occasion and to honour the legacy of this incredible company’s colossal contribution to Māori contemporary dance.


Titiro ki muri, haere whakamua

Look back, move forward


If you came to see TE WHEKE, share your whakaaro with us at the link below!

“It is a well very balanced show that captures the essence of Atamira as a company and their 21-year history. The eight individual choreographer’s journey comes though clearly on the bodies of the dancers. Overall, it is an awesome experience that people need to see, as it asks honest questions of the human spirit and our current society. Te Wheke leaves you with an uplifted spirit knowing you have seen something special while also looking forward with hope to the next 21 years and the continuing Atamira kaupapa.”

- Anton Carter, Theatreview 2021

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  • Friday 11 June: 7:30pm
  • Saturday 12 June: 7:30pm + post show talk
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  • Kia Mau Festival
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  • Thursday 17 June: 7.30 pm
  • Friday 18 June: 7.30 pm + post show talk
  • Saturday 19 June: 1pm + post show talk
  • Saturday 19 June: 7.30 pm
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  • Thursday 24 June: 7:30pm
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  • Friday 13 August: 7:30pm + post show talk
  • ASB Waterfront Theatre
  • 138 Halsey Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010
  • Kia Mau Festival (Te Whaea – National Dance & Drama Centre)
  • 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington 6021
  • James Hay Theatre
  • 86 Kilmore Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013
  • Forum North
  • Conferencing and Ticketing 7 Rust Avenue, Whangārei 0140
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  • Adult $36.50
  • Child 16 and Under $26.50
  • Concession (Senior, Unwaged) $31.50
  • Group of 6+ $31.50
  • Creative NZ
  • Auckland Council
  • Foundation North
  • ASB Waterfront Theatre
  • Kia Mau Festival
  • Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre
  • Artistic Team
  • Practitioners
  • Performers
  • Designers
  • Concept: Jack Gray and Marama Lloydd
  • Artistic Director: Jack Gray
  • Executive Producer: Marama Lloydd
  • Assistant Directors: Taane Mete, Kelly Nash
  • Dramaturg: Dolina Wehipeihana
  • - Jack Gray (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa)
  • - Bianca Hyslop (Te Arawa)
  • - Taane Mete (Ngāti Kahunganu)
  • - Kelly Nash (Ngāpuhi)
  • - Louise Potiki Bryant (Ngāi Tahu)
  • - Kura Te Ua (Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Te Aitanga a Mahaka, Te Whakatohea, Thuoe)
  • - Gabrielle Thomas (Kāi Tahu, Te Atiawa te Tau Ihu)
  • - Dolina Wehipeihana (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tukorehe)
  • - Sean MacDonald (Ngati Kahungunu, Rangitane, Raukawa, Tuwharetoa)
  • - Eddie Elliott (Ngati Maniapoto)
  • - Abbie Rogers (Ngāi Tahu, Te Arawa)
  • - Cory-Toalei Roycroft (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungūnu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Kauwhata)
  • - Emma Cosgrave (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whātua)
  • - Caleb Heke (Ngāpuhi)
  • - Oli Mathiesen (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi)
  • - Dana Moore-Mudgway (Te Atiawa, Rangitane, Ngāti Apa, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga)
  • AV: Louise Potiki Bryant
  • Sound: Paddy Free
  • Set: John Verryt
  • Lighting: Vanda Karolczak
  • Wardrobe: Marama Lloydd (Ngati Kahu, Te Rarawa)