Te Tangi ā te Tūī

Saturday October 28, 2023 at 2 pm at The York, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver | View Map | Phone

A celebration of Māori culture

An extraordinary live experience that fuses Māori culture with the artistry of the circus, told in Te Reo Māori (the Māori language).

Te Tangi ā te Tūī; he karanga nō te kainga, pulling us heart-first back to the ngāhere.

Join us on a mesmerizing journey into the heart of Aotearoa, the land of the Māori people. Te Tangi ā te Tūī (The Song of the Tui) invites you to experience an enchanting and empowering Māori circus theatre work about adaptation and authenticity. This is a remarkable circus spectacle for audiences of all ages!

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 Patupairehe (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). This show combines Kaupapa Māori (a Māori way) and cirque theatre to create an evocative narrative of love and loss between Māori, Patupairehe, and the natural world facing colonial impact.

This world premiere is a collaboration between Te Rēhia Theatre Company and The Dust Palace, New Zealand.

Running time: 90 minutes with intermission


The Cultch offers a 50% ticket discount to VocalEye users. Please call 604-251-1363 to purchase and be sure to mention VocalEye.

Produced by: Te Rēhia Theatre and The Dust Palace Circus Theatre
Writers: Tainui Tukiwaho and Amber Curreen
Director: Tainui Tukiwaho
Circus Directors: Geoff Gilson and Eve Gordon


Te Rēhia is an acclaimed Māori theater company who shares Matauranga Māori with the world through bold contemporary theater. The Dust Palace is a renowned cirque theater company that presents works of beauty and daring through aerials, groundwork and storytelling.

Te Tangi a te Tūī is an allegory for the past and future of the Māori language; telling a story of loss that te reo Māori narrowly avoided and the journey young people now face to bring the reo (language) back to their family lines.

Aotahi lives on her ancestral lands, close to a forest that is home to the much-feared Patupaiarehe (ancient “fairy” people) and a curious creature, known as the Bird Man, the Manu (bird) who Walks as a Man. Aotahi gives birth to her son Piri – the first boy in this family’s bloodline for many generations. In days long past her ancestors made decisions, or were forced into decisions, that rippled through generations. Piri’s birth unlocks a dormant curse lying in wait for his arrival, it is an utu (debt) that he is now responsible to pay to these magical beings. The Patupaiarehe (fairy person) Te Pua o Te Reinga wants Piri as a vessel for the spirit of the man she loved and lost at the time Māori were forced away from their lands. Koiriiri, The Manu who walks as a Man, wants the boy as revenge against Piri’s ancestor who trapped him, trimmed his tongue and gifted him to a priest. He wants Piri to replace him in housing the priest’s spirit which binds him to the land. Aotahi does her best to hide her son from the magical beings and the curse. It appears she has succeeded until in his teen years where they begin their pursuit of him in earnest. Each of the creatures take their turn, sharing their stories and trying to convince the boy to sympathise for their plight. A worried Aotahi watches on from the shadows, waiting for the inevitable that will come when the boy chooses a side and both mother and son will be gone forever. What will he choose? How will the song of his ancestors end?

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