Formed in 2007, Okareka was established to fuse contemporary dance with indigenous Māori themes and other genres to create authentic, diverse works. Led by senior performer Taiaroa Royal, Okareka has become one of New Zealand’s most sought after and prolific dance companies.

Okareka holds its provenance close to its heart. Through choreography, set design, and costume, the company strives to tell bold, spiritual stories that are of and from New Zealand. Through careful collaboration the company seeks to extend its creativity and its influence by engaging experienced artists from around the Globe – the sole driver – to create evocative, beautiful dance works that tell a story.

Okareka is a company guided by Māori beliefs. These beliefs are brought to its work and its audiences.

The next 5 years are very exciting for Okareka as it continues to grow and develop both creatively and strategically in areas of business, education and repertoire.


Whether people are brought together by blood, or a similar intention, excellence is reached through group effort and energy, through collaboration and the sharing of dreams. The individual can only reach greatness through the efforts of the many.


Stay true to who you are and express yourself openly and honestly.  Be proud of where you come from and treat those who have come before you with respect. Honor your teachers. Pass on your expertise. Work hard at what you do.


Seek to know and understand yourself. Search constantly for ways to grow and create opportunities for others to do the same. Do not settle for mediocrity. Be provocative. The judgment of others is not your concern.




Te Arawa, Kai Tahu, Ngati Rauwaka, Uenukukopako.

Taiaroa trained at the New Zealand School of Dance, graduating in 1984. He has since performed with major dance companies both at home and abroad, including The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Douglas Wright, Michael Parmenter’s Commotion Dance Company, Black Grace, Orotokare and Atamira Dance Company. Tai has successfully choreographed many high profile events across Australasia including the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Arts Awards in Wellington, Auckland’s Christmas in the Park and over the past 3 years has choreographed operas for NZ Opera. Tai is also part of the teaching faculty at the UNITEC Bachelor of Performing Screen Arts, and has taught at The New Zealand School of Dance as well as many private dance schools.




Te Arawa, Ngati Whatua, Uenukukopako.
After graduating from Unitec’s Performing and Screen Arts program in 2004, Jesse has gone on to forge a career in the dance industry through performance, choreography, rehearsal direction and company administration. In 2007, Jesse joined Footnote NZ as a full time company member and worked with some of New Zealand’s leading choreographers including Michael Parmenter, Raewyn Hill, Malia Johnston and Sarah Foster-Sproull as well as debuting his first choreographic work ‘Little Sister’ in 2009. During his three year contract with the company, Jesse danced in numerous tours both nationally and internationally including Australia, Hong Kong and Belgium. His experience includes working on the acclaimed World of Wearable Art Awards Show, touring internationally with Vospertron and dancing and choreographing for many of NZ’s high profile corporations. He has extensive experience dancing and choreographing for film and television including both local and international television series, commercials and music videos. Jesse joined Okareka Dance Company in 2011 performing in the world premiere and national tour of ‘Nga Hau E Wha’ and later as rehearsal director for ‘Tama Ma’ at the Holland Dance Festival in January 2014. Jesse assistant choreographed ‘K’Rd Strip’ in its first season, and now joins the cast for 2015.



Nancy is an independent Choreographer and Dancer based in Auckland.  A graduate from the Unitec dance  degree which led her to the realm of contemporary dance.  She has been privileged to work for some of NZ and Australia’s most innovative and renowned dance companies/artists, which has led  her career to many exciting locations around the globe as well as connecting her to a wealth of professional experience.   Some highlights include performing at the prestigious Jacobs pillow with Atamira dance company, Douglas Wright’s rapt in Holland and the selection of her choreography ‘Paarua – Double contact’ in a programme Kaha (Atamira dance co.) that toured to Hawaii and North America.  She is excited to be part of the premiere of Mana Wahine and to be making her first debut with the Okareka Dance Company.



“I rere iho ai au i a Papatūānuku, i a Hinehauone, i a Hinetīmata…., i a Kuraimonoa, i a Mākuratawhiti, i a Kūotepō, i a Hamoterangi, i a Whakaotirangi, i a Kōriko, i a Muriwhenua, i a Iwirau, i a Muriwai, i a Te Moana Kuia, i a Ihuparapara, i a Iwipūpū, i a Irena Pareraukawakawa Hokimā, i a Tini Paana, i a Hine-nui-te-pō….” I am the epitome quintessence of these goddesses, deities and ancestresses, within my inner being I have inherited their mana wahine, their mana tangata, their mauri mareikura, their wairuatanga! I have lived a life full of abundance and wealth! I am the love-child and first born of my dearest parents. I am the eldest of seven, five girls and two boys. I was raised on good values, good morals, practices and a rich whānau, hapū culture. I am blessed to have been reared by many female exemplars. All who were and are wāhine rangatira and āriki tapairu! Their characters’ powerful, staunch, proud, intellectual and cultured. It all began with my conception and birth from my beautiful, influential, empowering Mother, Sweetheart, Pal and Mum, my loving nurturing elegant Nana, my loving kind humble Taua, my generous, lavish, unstinting Aunty and my many sagacious, inspiring Kuia, Hākui, Ruruhi, Taua, Nana, Ruahine, Aunties, cousins, sisters, nieces, mokopuna and friends who have unconditionally mentored and loved me. These learned women taught me compassion, respect, love, discipline, integrity, gentleness and kindness. They cultivated my mother culture in me, hospitality and caring for others, exposure and appreciation for most music, dance and the arts, instrumental in my education pursuits, supportive in my sporting recreational activities, guidance in enlightenment and spirituality knowledge and practice…. they were stupendous role models and excellent people, who fashioned and fed my whole being…. their greatness always awe-inspiring I will forever cherish and treasure….I descend from a long line of illustrious, exceptional, strong, skilled women.



Adam has been a professional Actor/Singer and live drag performer all over New Zealand for over 6 years. Having completed training in both Auckland and at Toi Whakaari (NZ Drama School) in Wellington, Adam has been involved in no less than 8 professional children’s theatre productions. He has had numerous roles in TV and various theatre productions in and around Auckland since 2006. Known for his quixotic energy and engaging presence, he has the ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand.



Originally from Montreal Vanda has been living and working in New Zealand since 1999. Her design work covers theatre, dance, television, fashion, and music during time spent living in North America and the U.K as well as New Zealand spanning 30 years . 10 years with the Atamira Dance Company produced designs for the award winning NgaiTahu 32 and Taonga as well as Memoirs of Active Service, Te Houhi and the popular Kaha series. Most recently designing for Red Leap Theatre’s SEA she had the opportunity to cement her love of the ocean into her work. Other work includes ongoing design projects with the Auckland Philharmonia and Trash to Fashion plus production work on music projects with Tihi Productions. Vanda also works for the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and is an active lifeguard at Piha beach. Accomplishments this year are National Open Womens Champions for Dragon Boating and female lifeguard of the year for the Piha SLSC. She is the proud mother of 3 talented children.




Elizabeth has designed costumes for The NBR New Zealand Opera, Auckland Theatre Company, The Silo, Court Theatre, Okareka Dance Company, Red Leap Dance, Black Grace, Douglas Wright Dance, Michael Parmenter, Atimira and Shona McCullagh, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. She designed costumes for Pop-Up Theatre in London which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival. Opera design credits include Faust, Carmen, La Bohème (twice), Falstaff, Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro (twice), Così Fan Tutte (NZO), Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci for the Opera 2011 winter season and Acis and Galatea, and Don Giovanni in 2013. Theatre design credits include In the Next Room, Mary Stuart, Well Hung, Equus, Cabaret, Into the Woods, Sweet Charity, Hair, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Duchess of Malfi, Pillow Man, My Name Is Gary Cooper, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Glass Menagerie, and Anne Boleyn (ATC); The Country Wife, La Cage aux Folles, The Great Gatsby and Cabaret (Court Theatre); Tartuffe, Top Girls, Three Days of Rain, Irma Vep, The Scene, Holding the Man, When the Rain Stops Falling, Assassins, and Tartuffe (The Silo).[/vc_column_text]



Having spent his graduate year as a physiotherapist based at a rural hospital, Jaz teamed up with Sideline Physiotherapy in early 2014 to pursue his true passion: sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Jaz’s passion for physiotherapy and the human body was born from his own impressive sports background. A representative cricketer he has played a season as an overseas pro in Sussex, England. Jaz spends a lot of his spare time playing premier cricket, keeping fit and working with a number of sports teams providing physio care all year round. Jaz has a holistic philosophical approach and believes everyone is unique. He strives to identify the underlying cause of pain and dysfunction and skilfully uses a range of proven techniques and treatments to eliminate pain and improve quality of life. Jaz is based at Shane Cameron Fitness on Onewa Road.