Whare Tapere were pā-based 'houses' of entertainment, storytelling, dance and games that fell into disuse following the abandonment of pā in the 19th century. Influences and 'echoes' of whare tapere performing arts were brought forth into later expressions including the contemporary kapa haka. Recent research, however, (particularly research by the late Hirini Melbourne of Ngāi Tūhoe) has revealed a larger number of performing arts forms in traditional Māori culture than what is popularly understood today.
Exploring and Experimenting
The overall goal of the Trust is to rediscover, explore and renew traditional indigenous/Māori performing arts forms - particularly those of the traditional whare tapere - by researching those forms, evolving them and giving expression to them in newly created performances. The Trust is free to perform and evolve these forms either by performing them on their own or through encounter with performing arts and expressions from other traditions.
The Trust acts as a forum for a new creativity, inspiration and vision with respect to indigenous performing arts. In this regard, the Trust is encouraged to convene activities that are exploratory, radical and avant garde with respect to the Māori performing arts tradition.
Ōrotokare is an independent organisation comprising the individuals who participate in its activities. Although Ōrotokare members are all closely associated with indigenous Māori communities, it is not our aspiration to formally represent those communities in the work of the trust. Rather, Ōrotokare is a group of individuals interested in exploring aspects of indigenous theatre and performing arts and we do not seek a larger dimension of representation which other organisations, including Māori arts organisations, may enjoy. In time, however, some of our activities will be conducted in partnership with our iwi, hapū and whānau (tribes, subtribes, families) and we look forward to exploring that dimension of our work in due course.
Our name, 'Ōrotokare'
Ōrotokareis the name of a locality, once the home of the 19th century Ngāti Raukawa ancestor Hūkiki Te Ahukaramū. Located west of Muhunoa, Ōhau (Horowhenua), Ōrotokarewas a small lake that became the home of Te Ahukaramū following his migration (and that of his people) from Maungatautari in the Waikato region. The name Ōrotokare resonates with the term kare-ā-roto which is used to denote the passions of the heart. A kare-ā-roto is a person who has captured one's affections. Here Te Rangikāheke of Te Arawa uses the term in his telling of the love story of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai:
Ano te rangi o te koauau o Tutanekai, me he ru na ano e ueue ana i a tuawahine kia haere atu ki te kare-a-roto a tona ngakau
The melody of Tūtānekai's flute stirred her within to go to the person who moved her heart. (Taken from Nga Mahi a nga Tupuna, by George Grey, Third Edition, Thomas Avery and Sons Ltd 1928)
The word 'kare' refers to the surface of water and 'roto' is the Māori word for lake. The sense is that the surface of lake water is an outward symbol for an inward emotional state. The use of environmental phenomenon to symbolise inward realities is widespread throughout human culture. It is, of course, a typical feature of a formal indigenous culture.
The symbolism is deepened further when we observe that 'roto' also means 'within' or the 'interior' of something. Finally, the action in the story mentioned above (the well known love story of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai) takes place upon Lake Rotorua. Hinemoa resides on the mainland and nightly pauses to listen to her lovers' flute playing. He lives upon Mokoia Island in the middle of the lake. One evening, Hinemoa steals away and swims out to the lake to be with Tūtānekai.
Ōrotokare is exploring a philosophy of indigenity as this might be applied in 'indigenous' theatre and performing arts. To this end, Ōrotokare is assisted by Mauriora-ki-te-Ao/Living Universe Ltd, a company that conducts research into traditional Māori knowledge and worldview. The beginnings of a theory of indigenity is as follows:
It is a feature of the human condition for humans to be in a correspondence with the world and the environments in which we dwell.
Sometimes we are conscious of this correspondence, sometimes we are not.
Our environments are complex - an intersection of natural world environments, linguistic, social, economic, built and so on.
There are varying degrees of conscious articulation of this correspondence between human societies and the environments in which we dwell.
Aformal indigenous cultureis one that is particular and conscious in its relationship with the natural world. It seeks to articulate this relationship and give expression to the features of the natural world in the customs, conventions and activities of the society and culture
These ideas represent the beginnings of a theory, and we are exploring them through our work. Additionally, wesuggest that there are 'three drivers' behind indigenous knowledge internationally:
Better Relationships with the Natural World. The Need for improved relationships between human societies and the natural world environments in which those societies dwell.
Knowledge Weaving. The Weaving of knowledge leading to cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary collaborations and styles of thought (leading to less competitive thought activities, collaborative approaches etc.)
Cultural Revival. The Desire to explore, revitalise and enhance the traditional bodies of knowledge held by 'indigenous' communities.
These, and many other matters, are topics which Ōrotokare explores in its activities.
(c) Ōrotokare: Art Story Motion Trust
This site and its contents are copyright.