Mana Wahine is available for future bookings.
For further information please contact Taiaroa Royal, Artistic Director –


Taane Mete, Taiaroa Royal and Malia Johnston have created a collage of powerful imagery that transcends space and time. Mana Wahine is a 70 min performance that celebrates the essence of life and death. Drawing on traditional culture of song and dance, Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield emanates her wisdom with Okareka Dance Company to create a vision of strength that empowers women around the world.

Mana Wahine/Powerful Woman emulates the journey from creature to motherhood, life force to the spirit world, the honoring of mother earth and sky father.

Ancient Maori practices of karakia/prayer, song/waiata and mythology are weft throughout the performance to enhance cultural connection from Aotearoa New Zealand to the rest of the world. Okareka Dance Company continues to deliver productions that bind culture with dance in a contemporary context.

Premiered June/July 2014

“Mana Wahine is above all a rich fusion of choreography, music, tikanga Maori and performance practices, AV, lighting and performance design … enriched and enlivened by the dancing of five powerhouse performers.” Raewyn Whyte, Theatreview

Tour Dates


Thursday 28 January, 7:30pm
Friday 29 January, 7:30pm
Saturday 30 January, 4:00pm

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Maria graduated from UNITEC in 2006 with a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts majoring in contemporary dance, training under various leading NZ dance artists including Michael Parmenter and Malia Johnston. After graduating Maria went on to perform in short works for Late Night Choreographers and Tempo Dance Festival. In 2008, she travelled around Australia and after returning to NZ in early 2011, Maria joined the cast of In Flagrante, a neo-burlesque show choreographed by Mary-Jane O’Reilly. She has performed in GoGoDo (winner) for Short and Sweet Dance Festival, Birds of Paradise for New Zealand Fashion Week, and has danced in various works for Tempo Dance Festival and the Auckland Fringe Festival. She also performed Boxed for the 2012 Living Room public art event, a solo dance piece originally commissioned by the British Council, choreographed by Susanne Thomas of Seven Sisters Group. Maria has been touring with In Flagrante since 2011 nationwide and internationally, recently being invited to the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a five week long season, and to the Seychelles for a private event. Maria has been involved in the development process of Mana Wahine with Okareka Dance Company since December 2012 and is excited and privileged to be premiering the all-female work.

Maria’s Mana Wahine story:

“I would say my mother and grandmother’shave to be the women I identify as mana wahine in my life. My grandmother Trix has passed away now, but my brother and I spent a lot of time with her growing up, and I remember her as such a generous and loving person – the quintessential Nana (even when we were young and naughty). Her husband died when my father and his siblings were still young so she would have had to have a lot of strength to raise them on her own in those days. The other, Pauline, is now 93 and still full of vitality – especially for such a tiny person! The last time I saw her we went hiking in the bush! I hope to be as resilient as she is if I get to that age… Of course my mum is a very strong female influence in my life and I rely on her a lot even now at 29. I would be lost without her! I feel blessed to have had them all in my life and proud to call them mana wahine!”

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 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with Atamira Dance Company, Douglas Wright’s rapt in Holland, and the selection of her choreography ‘Paarua – Double Contact’ in the Kaha touring season by Atamira Dance Company that was presented in 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.

Nancy’s Mana Wahine story:

“I am the youngest of eight kids, four sisters and four brothers. My mother and my sisters are strong wahine toa that definitely kept me check and showed me love and discipline.  They were/are my teachers.  When I think of mana wahine I do think of my dad’s great aunt Whina Cooper who paved the way and created a positive and strong voice in so many ways for Maori. There are many strong wahine in this day and age. My partner Kelly is a wahine toa as a parent and friend who teaches and supports me in so many ways.”

Bianca Hyslop (Te Arawa, Ngati Whakaue) was born in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2009 she completed a UNITEC Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts. She has since made her mark in the field of contemporary dance gracing the national and international stage with the likes of Okareka Dance Company, Atamira Dance Company, Movement of the Human, Tawata Productions and The World of Wearable Arts. Her choreographic work includes being the recipient of the first DANZ Māori Choreolab and choreographing on The New Zealand Dance Company, Tempo 2016.
Bianca was also the 2013 recipient of the esteemed Eileen May Norris Dance Scholarship, recognising outstanding dance talent in the country. Receiving this has enabled Bianca to continue the momentum she has built by opening opportunities to travel internationally as part of her on-going development as a dancer, performance artist, collaborator, teacher and choreographer.
Career highlights include: Performing in Atamira’s 2012 Kaha tour to the Pacific Arts Festival in the Solomon Islands; their 2013 tour to the Asia Pacific Dance Festival (Honolulu); The San Francisco International Arts Festival and the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts, 2015; Atamira’s full length work Moko touring to The Beijing Dance Festival and The Chang Mu Dance Festival, Seoul;
Okareka’s full length work Mana Wahine performing in 15 New Zealand venues and The World’s Theatre Festival, Brisbane 2016.
Other career highlights include dancing at ‘All the World’s Futures’ Venice La Biennale 2015, participating in The Indigenous Dance Forum, led by Jack Gray at New York University, 2016, and the Indigenous Dance Residency, The Banff Centre 2016. 

Bianca’s Mana Wahine story:

“This is one of my favorite proverbs or ‘whakatauki’ that demonstrates the holistic values of the Maori, and the utmost respect of Papatuanuku, the mother of the earth. 
“Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua – As man disappears from sight, the land remains.”
Both my grandmothers have played a big part in my life. They are from two very different cultural backgrounds but both have the underlining qualities that define them as mana wahine – charisma, prestige, integrity, authority, spiritual power and strength. These two amazing women have been highly influential to my life and have allowed me to dream bigger, better, beyond and to keep dancing!  Ramari Rangiwhuia Haslem (Te Arawa, Ngati Whakaue}, Peggy Hyslop (London UK, Whangarei New Zealand). And my mother, Donna Haslem. She really is, (as my father once described her) a ‘force of nature’. With such a strong and powerful wairua, she is beautiful inside and out. Thank you mum for all your love, time and energy and for being my number one fan!”


Emily began dancing at the age of five and trained in ballet and American Jazz.
In 2004 she studied contemporary full time at the New Zealand School of Dance. She freelanced in New Zealand from 2007-2010, working with Timothy Gordon (Company Z), Mary-Jane O’Reilly, Inside Out Productions and a variety of commercial works.
Emily performed and toured with the Cuban Groove Company (2009), Carol Brown (Urban Devas, 2010), London Urban Soul Orchestra (People in your neighborhood tour 2010), Vospertron (Quatar performances 2011). She has performed in the World of Wearable Art Awards (2004, 2010-2013, 2015).
Emily worked for Footnote Dance Company from 2011 until 2014. During this time she has danced in works by Kate MacIntosh/ Jo Randerson, Sarah Foster-Sproull, Ross McCormack, Lisa Densem, Malia Johnston, Kristian Larsen, Claire O’Neil, Lyne Pringle, Fleur de Their, and Olive Beiringa. Emily has toured with Footnote throughout New Zealand and overseas to London, Antwerp, Berlin, Frankfurt and San Francisco.
In 2015 Emily worked with the ‘Darkroom’ motion graphics company on their latest project using motion capture technology, and Okareka dance company devising a new work.
Since 2014 she has been working with Muscle Mouth Company (Ross McCormack) touring the work ‘Triumphs and other alternatives’ (Wellington, Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane).

Isabel graduated from the McDonald College of Performing Arts in 2013 and then moved on to study for 3 years as a contemporary dance major at the New Zealand School of Dance. During her time at the school, she had the privilege of working with some of the most inspiring and renowned choreographers/dancers from NZ and internationally. Highlights of her experiences include performing in the 2014 World of Wearable Arts and Malia Johnston’s “Miniatures” in the 2016 Tempo Dance Festival. At the School she has also performed works by Thomas Bradley, Sarah Foster-Sproull and Amber Haines as well as excerpts of works by Kuik Swee Boon and Hofesh Shechter.

In 2016 she created her first short dance work “Temenos” for the choreographic season of ‘Scope’. She is very excited to join the team at Okareka and the amazing cast of Mana Wahine.

Eikura William grew up in central Auckland, New Zealand, and began her dance training at the age of 15, where she began to explore her interest in contemporary dance in high school. In 2011 and 2012 she was introduced to the Okareka Dance Company Summer School workshops as a junior student, where she gained her training under well-known artists, Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal. In 2012 and 2013 she performed for the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra lead by Moss Patterson and Gabrielle Thomas (Atamira Dance Company). Eikura has just completed her third and final year of UNITEC’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Art majoring in Contemporary Dance, in 2016. During her time at UNITEC, she was trained by some of New Zealand’s top artists including Michael Parmenter, Katie Burton, Paul Young, Kimbrian Bergh and Sarah Foster-Sproull, and has had the privilege of working with various choreographers including Malia Johnston (2016- Sketch. Waltz. Jam.), Claire O’Neil (2016- Trove), Michael Parmenter (2015- Floods), Okareka Dance Company (2015- Mana Wahine) and Anna Bate (2014- The Experience Experience).,

Born in Sydney, Tiana studied her first full-time dance course in 2013 at Ev & Bow Fulltime Dance Training Centre. In 2014, she went on to continue her training in contemporary dance at The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) where she graduated in 2016 with a Diploma in Dance Performance.
During her time at NZSD, Tiana had the opportunity to perform in works by many influential and renowned choreographers including Amber Haines’ new work Incant, excerpts of Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother, Malia Johnston’s Miniatures at Auckland Tempo Festival 2016, Thomas Bradley’s Conditions of Entry, Kuik Swee Boon’s As it Fades, and Sarah Foster-Sproull’s Forgotten Things.
After graduating, Tiana worked with Holly Newsome and Samuel Hall on a double bill, for the inaugural Toi Poneke Dance Residency as part of the 2017 Wellington Fringe Festival.
Tiana has been given the incredible opportunity to work with Okareka Dance Company in 2017, where she will be joining the talented cast of Mana Wahine for their International tour.


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.

Taane Mete graduated with honors from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1988. His performing experience has seen him dance with companies such as Footnote Dance Company, Douglas Wright Dance Company, Taiao Dance Company, Fusion Dance Theatre, Michael Parmenter’s Commotion Company, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Human Garden, Mau Dance and Atamira Dance Company. In 2005 and 2006, Taane worked as a television presenter for the program Takataapui. Taane graduated from the Leadership New Zealand Program in 2008 and continues to advocate a leadership role in the dance community. Now into his 30th year as a performer Taane continues to develop exciting new projects for the company repertoire

Malia Johnston is the director of MOTH and develops her own collaborations with other artists. Malia’s major dance theatre works are choreographed in conjunction with theatre director Dr Emma Willis including Amanimal , Dark Tourists and body, fight, time all performed in Wellington and Auckland.  Malia’s dance pieces are collaborative with design teams and performers. Since 2002 Malia has been the Artistic Director and principal choreographer for New Zealand’s World of Wearable Art Awards Show as well as choreographer and stage director. She is a guest choreographer at the New Zealand School of Dance and regularly creates new works for their Graduation performance. Malia has a significant dance and choreographic history with Touch Compass Dance Company and Footnote New Zealand Dance, creating works since 2000.  Malia has worked with Tai and Taane over the past 9 years as dancers and guest choreographers for WOW and is very passionate and excited about the upcoming co-authorship model for Mana Wahine.

Malia’s Mana Wahine story:

“I am lucky to have many inspirational women in my life. From the age of seven, I had a Dutch family friend, Clair Leistra, take a hands-on interest in my artistic side, support that has been ever-present in my life. I invited her to be my godmother for my adult years, and she has been a huge inspiration.  Mana wahine are alive, kicking and making strong impacts on my life, from family members, friends, to my WOW family in Nelson and work colleagues in the dance community.”

tui croppedKo Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield tōku ingoa. Ko ahau te Ariki Tapairu me te Kuikui o te whakaari Mana Wahine i raro i te mana o Ōkareka 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.

My MANA WAHINE, MANA MAREIKURA, MANA TAPAIRU ARIKI I inherited from them, I live and breathe! The magnitude and enormity of my gratitude and appreciation to them all, is infinite!  It is their heights and legacies I aspire to!  “I heke iho tōku mana mareikura i a rātou mā…., ko Papatūānuku tōku mana e, ko Hine-nui-te-pō tōku mana e…, ko Rosaline Ngāpire tōku mana e, i heke tika tonu mai ki a ahau…”


 victoria_kelly5195-BWVictoria Kelly is an award winning composer and musician. Her contemporary classical music has been commissioned, performed and recorded by many of New Zealand’s leading performers and ensembles including NZTrio, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the New Zealand String Quartet, Stroma and Michael Houstoun. For her work in film and television, she has received numerous nominations and won two New Zealand Screen Awards.
Her film work includes scores for ‘Black Sheep’ and ‘Under the Mountain’ by Jonathan King (for whom she his currently scoring a new film) and ‘Out of the Blue’ by Robert Sarkies. She collaborated as an arranger and orchestrator on ‘The Lovely Bones’ with Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson. Recent television work includes the score for ‘Field Punishment No.1′ directed by Peter Burger, and all three series of ‘The Almighty Johnsons’ (which she co-composed with Sean Donnelly).
Victoria has collaborated with some of New Zealand’s most renowned artists including Neil Finn, SJD, Don McGlashan, Anika Moa and Shapeshifter. Last year she worked closely with Neil Finn, orchestrating songs for his solo album ‘Dizzy Heights’ and in November she joined him on tour to the US and England. Currently, she plays in SJD’s live band and in The Bellbirds with Sandy Mill, Sean Donnelly and Don McGlashan.
Victoria completed her Bachelor of Music in 1993 and while pursuing further study, she developed a passion for writing film music. After winning a TVNZ Young Achievers Award and a Professional Development Grant from Creative New Zealand in 1996, Victoria traveled to the United States to study film composition at the University of Southern California, with teachers including Elmer Bernstein, Leonard Rosenman and Christopher Young. Victoria has worked with directors such as Scott Reynolds, Vanessa Alexander and Harry Sinclair. She has written commissions for the Turnovsky Trio and Stroma, and her recent Piano Trio ‘Sono’ has been recorded by the New Zealand Trio.
In 2011, Victoria was the Music Director for the Opening Ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, which saw her working with more than 1200 performers, musicians and volunteers.The ceremony was broadcast live to an estimated audience of 1 billion people.
“Piece by piece, the music came together. Some music, I wrote in response to conversations I had with Tai, Taane and Malia. They would then put the music to the dancers and respond with movement, gestures or directions. I would respond again to what I saw – and the process continued in that way. Other music, I was inspired to write purely from having seen particular movements or gestures to begin with – and so the feedback loop started from that point. The music evolved as a constant series of responses that looped back into themselves and re-emerged, transformed.”

In 2016 she created her first short dance work “Temenos” for the choreographic season of ‘Scope’.She is very excited to join the team at Okareka and the amazing cast of Mana Wahine.

Tracey2014Tracey designs for Theatre, Live Event, Film and TV. Designing over 200 productions for theatre. Some favourite productions include- for Inside Out Productions; The Holy Sinner, This is it, Spectacle of One, Louis Vuitton Cup Party Events. For the NZ Actors Company; Midsummer Nights Dream, A Way of Life, and Leah. Viva Verdi for NBR NZ Opera. Assassins’ the Musical, Into the Woods, The Hungry City, Pinocchio for the Watershed Company. For Massive Company, Alice in Cyberspace, Still Speeding, and Sons of Charlie Paora, and Alice in Wonderland, for the Aotea Centre. For ATC she has designed Horseplay, The Twits, The Little Shop Of Horrors, and Lord Of The Flies. The is Tracey’s second design for contemporary dance.

Design for Film and TV include- Costume Design for Maddigans Quest. Production Design for- Piece of My Heart, Diplomatic Immunity, Bliss- The Beginnings of Katherine Mansfield, This NOT My Life, Billy, Waitangi- What Really Happened, and Sione’s: Unfinished Business, and White Lies. Tracey has  received NZ Screen Awards for her designs for- Maddigans Quest 2007, Piece of My Heart 2009, This is NOT My Life 2011 and White Lies 2013. Most recently Tracey costume designed When We Go To War, a new drama series that will screen during the WW1 Centenary next year.

Tracey has been a Co-Curator and Designer for NZ Exhibits at the Prague Quadrennial of Scenography- In 2003 PART the exhibit received a Special Honorary Award. In 2007 the BLOW installation featured the work of 13 prominent NZ performance designers, and also received the award for audience popularity. The 2011 FLY TOWER installation expanded to feature live performance within the design installation.

Elizabeth Whiting headshotElizabeth has designed costumes for The NBR New Zealand Opera, Auckland Theatre Company, The Silo, Court Theatre, Red Leap and Okareka 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) and she designed Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci for the Opera 2011 winter season and is designing 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 (ATC); The Country Wife, La Cage aux Folles, The Great Gatsby and Cabaret for 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) She designed The Glass Menagerie and Anne Boleyn in 2013.

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 ServiceTe 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.

rowan_pierceRowan is a Wellington based multimedia designer and artist. He produces and exhibits work both collaboratively and individually, across a range of mediums including live dance, theatre, music, and installation often with an emphasis on the orchestration of live performance and the projected video image. Notable projects Rowan has worked on in the role of multimedia designer include: The Playground NZ Ltds’ Sleep Wake (2009, performed at the Auckland International Festival of the Arts and winner of The Designer’s Institute of NZ Best Awards: GOLD 2009), Rifleman Productions’ Body Fight Time (2011) and Amanimal (2013), and Miranda and Kate Harcourt’s Flowers from my Mothers Garden (2012). He has directed various successful film projects and music videos including Quarters, selected for the New Zealand International Film festival 2010. Rowan graduated in 2010 from Massey University and Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School’s joint degree in Performance Design.


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