We're excited forAnna Marbrook (pictured above), whose theatre spectacle A Waka Odyssey is to open the New Zealand Festival in Wellington on 23 February. One of New Zealand's most respected theatre and television directors, Marbrook created A Waka Odyssey with navigator and waka specialist Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and designer Kasia Pol. Festival audiences are in for a visual feast as a fleet of waka hourua (double hulled sailing waka) sails into Wellington Harbour and is welcomed by a unique haka, created for the capital, alongside a soundscape by Warren Maxwell. It's a free event, and promises to be spine-tinglingly thrilling, so do go along if you're in the capital.
The project is the culmination of Marbrook's long-held interest in waka culture.
"About 9 years ago I first understood the 'Pacific lens' is a way forward for humanity in terms of a way of thinking," Marbrook says. "At that time I made the decision to spend a great deal of time dedicating my life to understanding that philosophy, to articulate it and build projects that could express it."
In 2015, she created and directed the ten-part television series Waka Warriors for M?ori Television. She has also directed two seasons of Real Pasifik for TVNZ - a show that revives, shares and celebrates Pacific food culture. She also directed the feature-length documentary TeMana o te Moana: The Pacific Voyagers, which is currently premiering across the Pacific.
The creative process involved in such epic projects is what keeps Marbrook coming back for more.
"I like all of it because I like a good challenge. I like the big obstacles where you just go, 'how are we going to get past this?'. There is a greater sense of togetherness when we finally push past the obstacle and succeed. I love that breakthrough. I love the change that I am able to make as a person and I love working on projects that enable me to change and transform things about my own life - I get to take that personally."