Manawa Ora – stories from the street opened last night, Wednesday 15 October at Herald Theatre in Auckland. My sister, Liz and I went along and were blown away by the power and talent of the rangatahi (young people), who shared their stories. To know that all performances and the art exhibition were made over one week, blew our minds.

The nine rangatahi have been a part of Nga Rangatahi Toa’s Manawa Ora performance-based, inter-arts project, which gives them the opportunity to work one-on-one with top creative New Zealanders to develop a response to their life experience and cultural identity. This is done using the medium of theatre, music or visual arts, as well as exploring their mindfulness practice. For one week before the performances, the young people work with their mentors to put together their piece. The rangatahi were joined by the alumni of young people who have graduated from the programme.

Manawa Ora combines soundtrack, video, performance, and large-scale artworks. We saw incredible drawing, photography, singing, rapping, theatre and poetry and learned about the rangatahi’s lives. We were challenged, inspired and moved, we felt love and compassion. We are thankful to the young people for their courage to share of themselves and to the mentors and staff who work effortlessly to show these rangatahi that they are loved, unique and can do anything they want.

One of the participants, Ray Teariku (pictured below) said his art is about what he is going through in his life and how he wants to be a good father to his one month old daughter. His beautiful art work was exhibited in the gallery in the Herald Theatre foyer. He performed by playing the slit drum to a mesmerising projection of his artwork.

Nga Rangitahi Toa works with rangatahi from south auckland who have been excluded from mainstream education and works with them to get them back in to education, training or employment. The organisation’s programmes have had a 100% success rate of getting young people to continue education or training. Find out more about Nga Rangatahi Toa via their website.

Manawa Ora will be showing tonight Thursday 16th, Friday 17th and Saturday 18th of October at 7pm at Herald Theatre. We would strongly recommend you go along if you can to be inspired and to support these rangatahi and such a fantastic organisation.

Buy tickets to Manawa Ora.

Ray Teariku with his art work

Ray Teariku with his art work