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Saving Māori Stories For Future Generations


The elders are dying. Within their bones are the stories of the land, the ancestors and legends of the past. These stories carry threads of knowledge and wisdom which we can weave to create a brighter future for future generations.

Our vision is to capture these stories of the past and to empower future generations to create new narratives for themselves. 


Help us to record these important stories before they are lost. 


At the heart of the project lies a series of short stories by emerging Māori writer, actor and storyteller, Julian Noel, of Ngapuhi descent. His stories centre around the important narratives that have been passed down generation to generation through the Nathan family.

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Image © Eve Patuawa Nathan

What do the ancestors want us to know about our past?
How do we heal ancient wounds?
How do we honour the gifts?
How can the stories we carry in our bones guide us today?


Julian's mother, Eve Patuawa Nathan, Ngapuhi was both a visual artist and one of the first Maori women to ever publish a book of her own poetry. She was raised in the Kaihu Valley at a time when it was banned to speak in her own language. After a series of tragic family events she left the valley of her birth. Although she fled the country of her birth the love for her land and culture never left her.


The impact of her childhood trauma played out in the raising of her own children, fracturing dreams she had of raising a happy family; although scattered around the world, her children and grandchildren have all journeyed to this tiny valley seeking answers to life's big questions.

What answers have they found? What is the power of the land? What impacts do the ancestors have upon this current generation? How do we embrace the gifts and grow beyond the wounds of the past?


Julian started returning to the valley over 30 years ago. He always felt a mystical connection to the land of his forefathers. He began to realise that the land and ancestors spoke in a language his western upbringing had not prepared him for, this prompted a deep personal journey to understand his cultural roots.

This project honours Te Ao Māori the traditional perspective inherent in Māori culture.

The journey to connect and understand what it is to be Māori continues to be a deeply personal and at times lonely journey. What he has discovered is both deeply human and universal, offering value to other cultures.

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Image © Eve Patuawa Nathan

Having been raised away from Aotearoa, Julian asks his mother:
"Am I a real Māori?"  

She responds, "Being Māori is in your bones".

Bones: The Project

Bones will be presented through a variety of medium:

A book       
A documentary       
A series of theatrical live readings 
A solo theatre show         
A workshop series for people to explore their ancestral connections.


Martine Baanvinger, Theatre director, writer and producer along with Julian Noel have drawn together an outstanding team to both capture and bring these ancient stories to life on stage and screen.

These inter-generational themed stories affirm humanity at its deepest and show a pathway for healing. This is a unique project weaving together the words and insights from mother and son showing how one generation can learn and grow from the pains of the past.

Māori culture acknowledges we are always connected to our ancestors. They pass on the gifts of culture, wisdom, mana, and time honoured healing and spiritual practices, they also pass on unfinished family business.


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Image © Eve Patuawa Nathan

Bone: The Team


The Bones team is a collection of award-winning artists comprising a director, composer, designer, stage manager, dramaturg writer and performer. 

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Martine Baanvinger

Martine Baanvinger is a Dutch born theatre director, actor and writer. She is the founder of Dramalab, a South Island theatre company that devises it's own original performances. Direct and true connection to the audience plus innovation stand at the centre of her approach to theatre. Martine specialises in physical theatre and intimate storytelling. She devises, performs and tours solo shows throughout Aotearoa.

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Julian Noel

I am Ngapuhi, Ngati Whatua, my roots are in the Kaihu valley. My marae is Taita Marae. My grandfather was Hone Nathan, my mother was Evelyn Patuawa Nathan. I am a writer, storyteller, poet and actor. I trained as an actor at The Victorian College of the Arts, I focused on self devised work creating my own material. After graduating i worked in film, television and theatre. I preferred working on new works.

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Holly Beckham

Holly Beckham, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Rangi is an award winning documentary director. She thrives on telling stories through the lens of Te Ao Māori. She studied Documentary Directing at South Seas Film School where she produced and directed He Ara Anō a powerful documentary about addiction in Māori wahine which has won over 20 international awards. She is currently working at Greenstone TV working on various TV shows. 

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Dr Dorita Hannah

Dr. Dorita Hannah, is an independent academic and performance designer who has worked in New Zealand and abroad with her work spanning the spatial, performing, visual and culinary arts. She has designed for the New Zealand festival of the arts, Auckland Arts Festival, Downstage and Taki Rua Theatre. She collaborated with choreographer Carol Brown on dance and architecture in Aotearoa, Greece, Australia and the Czech Republic. 

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Marshall Smith

Marshall Smith, Composer and producer. MD of the Soundroom, he composes for theatre, film and T.V.. He is an APRA Silver Scroll Finalist, who won a place at the Berlinale, and ART Venture Award along with a professional development award from the NZ Film Commission. Marshall is also co-Founder and co-chair of The Screen Music & Sound Guild of New Zealand.

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Michael Winchester

Michael Winchester, trained as an actor at the Victorian College of the Arts, and has Master of the Arts in performance studies he has enjoyed a successful career spanning 40 years in the arts, community and education sector as an actor, writer, producer and performer in theatre, film, radio and T.V. 

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Merilee Bennett

Merilee Bennett, writing coach and creative advisor, is an artist, award winning film maker, photographer, writer, educator and facilitator, much of her life and art has been an exploration of the archetypal realm and how we interct with that realm in our every day lives. She has over 20 years experience leading creative journeys and life story writing

"I am committed to telling stories of Aotearoa that are truly of 'this place' and engaging with key Māori principles in performance such as manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. Storytelling in the theatre not only celebrates who we are in Aotearoa, New Zealand, but also allows us to engage with difficult issues in ways that are truly human".
         - Dr. Dorita Hannah, performance, set and stage design.


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