The Undertow is the story of both Māori and Pākeha, of ordinary people who lived during extraordinary times in Aotearoa’s history.
The timeless pursuit of somewhere to call home: deftly articulating the effects of colonisation.
“To have read or heard about our local history is one thing, but to see it portrayed in the way Te Rākau Theatre does is special and unique and not to be missed.”
- The Dominion Post
The Undertow is a quartet of plays by renowned Māori playwright, Helen Pearse-Otene.
The four plays explore our bi-cultural history and significant events in collective story through the eyes of six generations of one family. While themselves works of fiction, the plays are deeply researched and rooted in the history and the sentiments of the times in which they are set.
This series has been a ten year project for Aotearoa New Zealand's longest surviving independent Māori theatre organisation, Te Rākau Hua o Te Wao Tapu.
The works have been critically described as deeply moving, compelling, generous, unique, lyrical, poetic, confronting and compelling, visceral, insightful and visionary.
Never before attempted by a New Zealand theatre company, Te Rākau presented The Undertow as an epic repertory theatre event at Soundings Theatre, Te Papa Tongarewa in January 2017.
The plays were then filmed by renowned cinematographer, Waka Attewell nzcs and transformed into a gripping four-part television series.
The Undertow TV series premiered on Māori Television in October 2019 with the support of New Zealand On Air, Māori Television and the Lotteries Tuia Encounters 250 fund.
The four chapters are available on-demand as a koha for kaiako (educators), tauira (students), and all people who call Aotearoa New Zealand home.
The four plays are also available in hard copy as a published book. Find out more.
Find out more about our funders by clicking the logos below.