Ethan Brown and Kawakawa Fox-Reo, stars of Home and Away, have taken viewers behind the scenes of their outstanding portrayal of Mori culture on the show.
Tane, portrayed by Ethan, and Nikau, represented by Kawa, tapped into a component of their own culture that they hadn’t previously examined in the most recent episode.
Following his uncle Ari’s imprisonment, Kawa’s character Nikau struggled to cope, causing Tane, played by Ethan, to step in and teach him how to handle his late father’s Taiaha — a traditional Mori weapon.
Ethan took to social media ahead of the programme to say a few words about the fantastic scene and how much it meant to him to share more of his Mori culture with viewers.
On Instagram, he wrote, “Privileged and proud to offer a piece of Mori culture in the shape of Taiaha – a traditional Mori weapon used in warfare and as a means to re-connect us with our ancestors.”
“Despite growing up in Aotearoa, I never learned the Taiaha way. I never imagined I’d get a crash course in it on an Australian soap!”
Ethan revealed to Stuff New Zealand that while he understood what Taiaha was when he was younger, he had never learnt it — until now.
“We did a little bit of mau rakau (weapon-based Mori martial arts) in high school,” he explained to the publication. “When the storyline came up, I had to reach out to a few pals and they helped me out.”
In the same interview, Kawa said that he, too, sought help from others, and that despite his disapproval of their activities on a “very basic level,” he remains proud of the scene.
“We did our best to include some basic movements in the act,” he continued, “but it’s nowhere near what folks back home are capable of.”
Kawa went on to say that fans have a “wonderful response to everything cultural” they do on the show, and that they find the introduction of anything new to be refreshing.
“I hope we do honour to our fellow Mori.” There are certainly some subtleties that I missed, or extremely well-trained guys viewing it could be like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ Perhaps not, but hopefully not.”
Knowing that this will be some viewers’ first exposure to Mori culture, the two actors gave into greater insight about the scenario on the Home and Away Instagram page.
While the Taiaha was traditionally used for warfare, Ethan noted that these days it’s used to “initiate a boy into manhood” and to “ground anybody who’s going through any tough moments.”
He noted that mastering the movements took them between “15 to 20” hours of practise, and Kawa described the process of learning the sequence and putting it on screen as “amazing.”
“It’s always a privilege to showcase our culture on television, and I’m extremely pleased that we get to do that,” Ethan said. “I’m also really grateful and thankful for all the good feedback we’ve received.”