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 program 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.
“Privileged and honored to share a bit of Māori culture in the form of Taiaha – a traditional Māori weapon used in combat and as a tool to re-connect us with our ancestors,” he said on Instagram.
“Although I grew up in Aotearoa, I never learned the way of Taiaha. Never would’ve thought I’d be having 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 learned it — until now.
“We did a little bit of mau rakau (weapon-based Māori martial arts) at high school, so when the storyline came up, I had to reach out to a few friends and they helped me out,” he told the publication.
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 the best job we could of putting some basic movements into the show but it’s nowhere near what people back home are capable of,” he said.
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.
“As for fellow Māori, I hope we do them justice. There are probably little nuances that I might have missed, or really highly trained fellas watching it, they might be like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ Maybe not, hopefully.”
Knowing that this will be some viewers’ first exposure to Mori culture, the two actors gave into greater insight into the scenario on the Home and Away Instagram page.
Answering some common questions, Ethan explained that while the Taiaha was traditionally used for combat, these days it’s used to “initiate a boy into manhood” and to “ground somebody who’s going through any rough times.”
He noted that mastering the movements took them between “15 to 20” hours of practice, and Kawa described the process of learning the sequence and putting it on screen as “amazing.”
“It’s always a privilege to share our culture on screen and I’m very grateful that we get to do that and I’m very grateful and thankful for all the positive responses we’ve received,” Ethan added.