Formed in 2007

the dance company

Õkāreka was established to fuse contemporary dance with indigenous Māori themes and other genres to create authentic, diverse works. Led by senior performer Taiaroa Royal, Õkāreka has become one of New Zealand’s most sought after and prolific dance companies.
Õkāreka 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.
Õkāreka is a company guided by Māori beliefs. These beliefs are brought to its work and its audiences.
The coming years will be very exciting for Ōkāreka Dance Company, as it relocates itself to its papakāinga on the shores of Lake Ōkāreka, Rotorua. Settling there, the Company will continue to grow and develop both creatively and strategically in areas of repertoire, business and education.




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.​

artistic director


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 and Dancers, Michael Parmenter’s Commotion 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.


“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.

Originally from Montreal, Quebec on Turtle Island. Vanda has been living and working in Aotearoa since 1999. Her lighting design work spanning over 30 years covers theatre, dance, television, fashion, and music during time spent living in North America, the U.K, as well as New Zealand. She has been involved in the Indigenous contemporary dance practice space for the past 20 years working with established companies such as Okareka Dance Company and Atamira Dance Company producing designs such as the internationally acclaimed signature work, Mana Wahine (Okareka Dance Company) as well as Manawa,Wired, and the most recent Hōkioi me te Vwōhali which premiered at the International Arts Festival in Wellington 2020. Her work for Atamira includes the award winning Ngai Tahu 32 and Taonga as well as Onepu, Memoirs of Active Service, Tomo, Mitimiti, and Te Houhi. She continues to work with both companies as well as freelance on other projects in New Zealand.


The making of TAma ma

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