New Tongan theatre show set to to inspire

A young Tongan playwright has created his debut piece after five years, using the sport of boxing to address themes of faith, family and culture.

Albert Mateni, 2018 winner of the Tongan Youth Trust for Music and Art Award for his work on ‘Hearts of Men‘. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

Albert Mateni not only wrote but also plays the lead role in the show Hearts of Men which opens this week in Auckland.

The show follows a young Tongan‘s dream to win gold for his country at the Olympics and the adversity in his journey leading up to the event.

The production earned Mr Mateni the 2018 Tongan Youth Trust for Music and Art Award.

Albert Mateni said there were not many Tongan playwrights or theatre productions in New Zealand and he hoped to pave the way for more.

“I really want to have a lot of young Tongan artists be inspired by this piece. You know it‘s possible to tell our stories.

“It‘s possible to bring these types of stories to stage, but not only stage, but film as well and I think it just comes down to courage and if you really want it, then just going all out and just giving it everything you have and not being afraid to put yourself out there.”

The show opens tonight at the Mangere Arts Centre and will be showing until April 14.

Hearts of Men is directed by Vela Manusaute and the cast is packed with Pacific talent including Aleni Tufuga, Ana Corbett, Malia Ahovelo, Mikey Falesiu and Jason Manumu‘a.