Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

Kaua e whakamā (Don’t be shy)

Amber at 22 with daughter Mia and brother Isaac - photo supplied.
Amber Curreen - photo supplied.
2019 Kōanga playwrights - photo supplied.
Amber Curreen’s work has always started with te reo and her dedication has contributed to its flourishing.


Kia ora 2007 Amber. You really should have sought advice before getting that fringe cut. It was never going to work.

On the plus side you’ve made some bold decisions.. You don’t realise it but you’re in post-Shortland street life re-adjustment. It’s weird to grow up on a TV show. You don’t understand it yet but it is not normal. You’re loving being back on Waiheke Island where everyone either knows you from childhood or is foreign; either way, no one calls you Shannon. You’re doing well to work part time, solo parent a two-year-old, run a household, take acting classes and continue your degree in Business Psychology. There are some things you really need to hear though:

Kaua e whakamā
Stop feeling stink about not knowing enough about te ao Māori and te reo Māori. It’s counter productive. You’re trying hard and that’s what counts. You’re trying to make up for three generations of lost knowledge through tapes from Massey Uni for crying out loud. It’s not ideal. 

Amber Curreen - photo supplied.   

You spend more time trying to rewind to that word you didn’t know, that you can’t hear properly. You’ll do better when you get into a total immersion environment... but you’ll still mess up ‘i’ and ‘ki’ regularly for another 12 years and counting… perhaps indefinitely. 

Stop trying to get it right
You think there’s some upper echelon of amazing adults who have it all sorted and know things that are so far beyond you, like there must be some adulting road code that you just haven’t learned yet. They have no idea! They’re just making it up as they go along and you should too! 

Amber at 22 with daughter Mia and brother Isaac - photo supplied.

Remember your creativity
You always performed and made up stories, danced and performed in your youth, but from working on a soap for so long you’ve forgotten that you have your own creative nous. Your human experience is worth sharing, you are a creative person and you have interesting ideas. Pick up your tits and start making stories you’ll enjoy it.   

But mostly, enjoy the wine and sun on Waiheke, soon you’re going to meet your next ex-partner Tainui Tukiwaho, head back to West Auckland and start making theatre. You’ll argue regularly about what show you should make next and how to best support Māori theatre makers for 12 years and counting…. perhaps indefinitely.   

2019 Kōanga playwrights - photo supplied.

Amber Curreen is an actor, theatre producer, developing playwright and director who leads Te Rēhia Theatre Company and Te Pou Theatre.  Amber is also the Festival Director for Kōanga Festival, a festival supporting Māori playwrights to develop their works and encouraging storytelling throughout the whole community. 

Kōanga Festival is now on until September 15th at Te Pou Theatre / Corban Arts Estate Centre.

More info about Kōanga Festival:

Friday 13 September & Saturday 14 September, 6pm
The Cellar, Corban Estate Arts Centre, Henderson
Two special evenings of brand-new works from Māori playwrights Aroha Awarau, Antonio Te Maioha, Albert Belz and Whetu & Komako Silver.
Koha entry; cash bar available. 

Sunday 15 September, 10am – 2pm

Shed One, Corban Estate Arts Centre, Henderson
Award winning Māori playwright Albert Belz leads his popular playwrights intensive for budding playwrights to established writers to develop their work, learn and share.
Places are limited so get in quick! Contact to register, $20 per person

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

12 Sep 2019

The Big Idea Editor