Introducing the I Am Māori Cast!

Meet the cast who will be touring I AM MĀORI around Aotearoa! 

Celeste De-Freitas

Celeste De-Freitas (Ngāti Porou) grew up in Perth, Western Australia but has been back home in New Zealand for nine years. Celeste studied drama in year 13 at high school but it was an epiphany during her first year of tertiary study that led her to try acting.

She completed a diploma in performing arts and then found Massive Theatre Company, Auckland. She has been a part of the Massive family for four years and has appeared in two of the company’s annual shows, Chance to Ignite in 2017 and Sighting‘ in 2018. In her spare time, Celeste loves to chill out and be with her beautiful family. 

James Forster

Hailing from Naenae, Lower Hutt, James Forster (Ngāti Porou) is a Graduate of Victoria University’s theatre programme, where he also studied English Literature, as well as primary and secondary school teaching. James’ flare for drama was first ignited during high school lunches spent stage-fighting with his mates. His time onstage has since grown to include seasons throughout Wellington with Young & Hungry, Summer Shakespeare, Wellington Fringe, and various projects with his university peers.

He greatly values the many moments and experiences shared with the individuals and communities he’s been lucky enough to meet – Who have pushed him to grow, while also reminding him to stay patient, light-hearted and not to take things too seriously. He hopes to continue doing so with the many he is yet to meet.

Jonathan Morgan

Wellington based Jonathan Morgan is of Māori (Ngāi Tāmanuhiri), Irish and Samoan (Magiagi, Sapapāli’i) descent. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts: Performing Arts (Singing) and a Diploma in Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) both from Whitireia Performance Centre and a Certificate in Screen Acting from Wellington Performing Arts Centre.

Career highlights for Jonathan so far have been ‘Puss’ in Puss in Boots – The Pantomime at Circa Theatre, ‘Tama T’ in Destination Beehive, touring Aotearoa with Capital E’s production of Songs of the Sea – Waiata o te Moana, ‘Mabel Fa’afafine’ in the upcoming feature film Upstage and cruising the Pacific on-board P&O’s Pacific Dawn last year, as a Youth Counsellor. When not on stage or in front of the camera, Jonathan’s hobbies include reading, swimming, Kapa Haka, watching and playing sport, and spending time with friends and family.

Piimio Mei

Piimio Mei (Tuhoe ruapuni raua ko Ngāti Kahungunu) made her debut in screen acting in 2017 starring as the lead in an independent comedy horror feature film, My Lover My Lazy Boy (working title, release 2019). She has since been working on film sets both in front and behind the camera; sets including the Māori Side Steps, commercials and short films. Through I am Māori, she returns to theatre for the first time since 2010, when she played the lead in her primary school production.

Although Piimio’s focus and main devotion is now acting she has an extensive background in dance, including a short term contract in an American Ballet Company, a Diploma in Commercial Dance and a Bachelor of Applied Arts in which she studied Siva Samoa, Cook Island and Maori Performing Arts. She has also danced with renowned Pasifika contemporary companies – Black Grace and Le Moana. 

We are so excited to have these four young actors on board. If you would like to find out more about the I AM MĀORI tour and how to book a performance for you school, click here

Auditions for Y&H Tours 2019

We are looking for four up-and-coming professional Māori actors for the 2019 Y&H Tour to secondary schools, I AM MĀORI.

Directed by Nancy Brunning, I AM MĀORI showcases extracts from plays by Māori playwrights.

The programme will touch on topics such as family issues, politics and land rights, with a common thread being ordinary people doing extraordinary things to change their world, no matter who they are or their background. It is the connection to their culture that gives them great strength to fight their battles and find the hero within.

Confirmed excerpts include scenes from Hone Kouka’s Waiora, Briar Grace-Smith’s Ngā Pou Wāhine and Astroman by Albert Belz.

Available roles: two male, two female – all Māori

Rehearsals: 7 April – 29 April, 2019 – in Wellington

Tour dates: 30 April – 22 June, 2019 (see calendar)

We are looking for:

  • Confident speakers of Te Reo
  • Can hold a tune/ sing a waiata – playing an instrument is a bonus but not necessary  
  • Open, talented (whether from training or experience), be strong in your own opinion but also able to create a safe and supportive team spirit
  • A willingness to muck in and get along are essential
  • Full drivers licence desired – the cast tour by themselves with the support of head office and a minimum of two full licences required for health and safety  

Auditions Dates:

Auckland: Saturday 2 February, 2019             Wellington: Saturday 9 February, 2019

On registration, a script will be sent out in preparation for the audition

How to apply

To audition: please send your C.V. and a separate photo to Natasha Thyne – [email protected]

Let us know which audition centre you’d like to attend and your preference for a morning or afternoon session.

For any queries please contact Natasha at the email address above or call 04 385 8227

**Y&H Tours recommends EQUITY New Zealand

Nancy Brunning to direct Y&H Tour ’19

We are thrilled to have Nancy Brunning as the director and dramaturg of the Y&H Tour 2019; I AM MĀORI

I AM MĀORI will be touring schools around New Zealand from April 30th to June 21nd.  For more information about booking the tour; click here

Nancy Brunning

Producer/Director/Writer

Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe. Nancy has been involved in professional theatre since 1992. She trained at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 1990-1991, established herself as a theatre actor, director and dramaturge with Māori Theatre/Production Company Taki Rua Productions for well over 15 years.

She has acted for theatre throughout New Zealand and has directed theatre in English and Māori.  She also works as an actor and has assisted with dramaturgy with some of New Zealand’s most celebrated Māori Playwrights such as Briar Grace-Smith, Witi Ihimaera, Hone Kouka and Albert Belz to name a few.

In 2011, she wrote her first play which was produced in 2014 in Wellington, later that year she was selected as the first Indigenous NZ Writer at the Banff Indigenous Writers Residency in Canada 2014.  Hīkoi was then premiered at the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. Nancy is also an actor recently playing Ramona in “Mahana” ”Directed by Lee Tamahori based on the novel “Bulibasha” by Witi Ihimaera.  She is cast in the TV drama In Dark Places, the story about Teina Pora and the latest season of Brokenwood Mysteries. 

She has recorded many plays and short stories for Radio NZ, was casting manager and kaitautoko for Documentary/Drama film “Belief” about the tragic death of Wainuiomata resident Janet Moses.  Most recently she directed Albert Belz’s Astroman for The Court Theatre.

Hāpai Productions was co-founded by Nancy and Tanea Heke in 2013. Nancy took on the role of Producer/Director and Writer in their project Portrait of an Artist Mongrel celebrating the writing of Rowley Habib which was presented at this year’s Auckland Writers Festival.