An award-winning actor, a member of Fly My Pretties, a Shortland Street star, an international Pop-Up Globe performer and a high school graduate making her theatre debut are among the cast just announced for the world premiere season of Hone Kouka’s stunning new work, Bless the Child.

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Kouka’s gripping play will debut at the NZ Festival on 28 February in Wellington before heading north for a season in the Auckland Arts Festival in March.

Eight lives and three worlds collide in this powerful, thought-provoking and poetic piece of New Zealand theatre.

After another child is found dead, a hotshot lawyer is dragged into the case to defend the demonised mother. The whānau closes ranks and the question of who killed the baby – and whose prejudice is exposed – is brought provocatively to the surface.

An urban thriller and unflinching social commentary, Bless the Child scrutinises the tragic issue of violence against children in contemporary New Zealand society and tells the story through an eloquent Māori lens.

The cast comprises Carrie Green, Moana Ete, Regan Taylor, Ani-Piki Tuari, Scotty Cotter, Maia Diamond, Shania Bailey-Edmonds and Lionel Wellington.

Award-winning actor Carrie Green is playing the lead role of Shardae. 

As well as being an actor, Moana Ete is also a singer-songwriter for two bands – A Girl Named Mo and Fly My Pretties.  

Regan Taylor comes home directly from Melbourne, where he’s been playing Othello at the Pop-Up Globe.

Lionel Wellington, a well-known Shortland Street actor, and recent high school graduate, Shania Bailey-Edmonds, will be making their theatre debuts.

Scotty Cotter is well-regarded for his work for many theatre companies, including as a performer and director for Massive Company, and from his Shortland Street days.

Hone Kouka is a recipient of the Adam Playwriting Award and the youngest winner of the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. As well as being a leading director and producer for both stage and screen, he is a prominent voice in Māori theatre.

Kouka credits his mother for challenging him to write the play and begin a korero around the responsibility of whānau and Māori people to protect all children.

Director and Tawata Productions co-founder Mīria George is a poet, and writer for theatre, radio and television. Described as "a force to be reckoned with” (Theatreview 2017), her award-winning work has toured New Zealand and internationally. 

The NZ Festival season of Bless the Child runs 28 February – 4 March at Hannah Playhouse. The Auckland Arts Festival season  runs 7-12 March at Q Theatre.

Tawata Productions is a Māori and Cook Islands theatre company based in Wellington specialising in development and presentation of new work with productions including I, George Nepia and Tu.