Loose Canons: Hone Kouka
Loose Canons is a series where we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.
Hone Kouka is an acclaimed Maori (Ngati Porou, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Kahungungu, Kai Tahu) playwright and screenwriter. He also works as a director and producer of theatre and film. Kouka founded the multi award-winning theatre production house Tawata Productions in 2001 and Tawata Press (with Miria George) in 2007. He was the youngest winner of the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, and won the Adam Playwrighting Award for his play Bless the Child in 2015. Kouka was made a member of the New Zealand order of Merit for services to Contemporary Maori Theatre in 2009.
Hone Kouka’s play The Beautiful Ones, an electrifying underground experience of dance and music with an urban Pacific flavour, opens at Lower NZI Room, Auckland Live on Saturday 19 November.
Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson
This book by famed Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson helped me as an artist to direct my thoughts and creativity with a clear mind and to stay calm and focused in the midst of creative chaos, so the ‘me’ becomes the servant of the work I am creating. While playing or watching the game, basketball has always had a spiritual and philosophical resonance for me. I use Jackson’s philosophy when I think about Māori theatre and how we can build and encourage total creative leaders for our industry. He understood what he had in front of him and worked to enhance that. I like to see that in our Māori artists.
Bailter Space - X
Bailter Space is my most favourite New Zealand band and this is my most admired track of theirs. I first heard it at a Victoria University Orientation gig in 1994. It was so loud and I felt as if I was submerged in a gorgeous mass of water - current after current washing over me and I just went with it. I love their sound as it’s actually pop wrapped in huge volume with slight tonal shifts to move it along. I don’t know if this is the correct musical terminology, but it works for me. Live they are the best - so god damn loud.
I had the privilege to adapt this glorious novel for the stage and radio, so I got to know the nuances of it very well. I got to adapt some short stories and the novel Dogside Story for radio also. I adore the simplicity and density of Patricia Grace’s kupu and how something mundane very quickly becomes exceptional. Although Tū is a story that has been told before, that of young men going to war, because it is based on korero from her whanau there is a deep sense of truth to it. I asked Patricia if for the stage version I could create an alternative time frame. She was so gracious and allowed me to do this. It eventually became my favourite part of the stage production, with two periods of time operating at the same moment.
When I first saw the video to 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' late one night on the television programme called Radio with Pictures I was hooked. I loved his groove and theatricality. As a Prince fan I got to see him in Sydney and have bought anything he released. I loved the Sign of the Times double album so much I viewed the movie in five different cities. I feel sorry for so many friends who I’ve made listen to this genius, again and again. I realised later it was actually his musicianship I was attracted to. The show I’m working on now is called The Beautiful Ones - the name of one of the tracks on the Purple Rain album.
The women of the Kouka and Waitoa whanau have always been exceptional. Kaitiaki of our reo, tikanga, whakapapa and to me the true leaders of our whanau. I grew up surrounded by these incredible women and the lessons I learnt from them have helped me overcome adversity, embrace humility and grow as a man. I learn from them all daily and often are blown away by their power and grace. My daughter holds the same virtues and strengths of her whanaunga.
The Beautiful Ones
is at the Lower NZI, Aotea Centre
Nov 18 – Nov 26
Tickets available here