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M9: Māori humour inspires Kura Forrester: ‘Everyone’s crack up’

Merewai Durutalo

Kura Forrester reveals her OG comedy heroes, and they're not who you think they might be

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The gift of humour comes naturally to actor, writer and comedian Kura Forrester and her whānau.

Forrester (Ngāti Porou) is one of nine speakers at M9 Aotearoa, at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre in Auckland on November 16. The annual event showcases Māori talent and this year features nine actors, writers and comedians.

It will be a two-hour extravaganza of powerful Māori voices who have come together for a very special evening, presenting nine very different stories chosen to inspire, empower and entertain.

Forrester’s comedy heroes are her whanau, she says.

“I don’t really look up to any sort of famous comedians. I look up to my aunties, uncles, cousins back home and I’m like, they’re the funniest. They’re the the OG [original gangster] comedians that I know.”

Forrester says humour comes naturally for Māori.

“The way we are raised and the way we interact with each other in our communities, we’re funny and we’re so good at laughing at adversity, which I think is really powerful.”

“For me being Māori is one of the best parts of my work because the comedy, I feel like it sort of comes naturally, you know, everyone’s crack up.”

Kura Forrester: 'I don’t really look up to any sort of famous comedians'. Photo / Supplied

Forrester says M9 allows for her to be unapologetically Māori. She hopes people take away “a deeper understanding of what being a Māori actor means to us” from the event.

“I don’t expect everyone to be interested in acting. But I hope people will take away a feeling of connecting to an experience similar to their own in terms of being a Māori professional at anything.”

M9, she says, is like “our own Māori TED talks, which I think is just a cool platform, like such a cool way to express who we are and what we do”.

Being Māori plays a huge part in Forrester’s creative mahi (work).

“It influences in a lot of ways because all of my work is pretty personal. When I write and create, I often use my own life to inform those creative decisions.”

She says that it was a challenge entering the comedy space as a Māori woman.

“The comedy world is you know, quite white, and it’s quite a hard industry to begin in sometimes when you’re Māori.”

However, there have been positive changes for Māori and Pasifika comedians.

Forrester says a comedy festival hui last year was a step in the right direction.

“They funded us to have a hui and tell them about what we needed as indigenous artists.

“I also think the festival is starting to champion Māori and Pasifika comedians in terms of representation.”

Tickets for M9 at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre at Aotea Centre for November 16 are available now.

She hopes more venues outside of the central city will be open to hosting the comedy festival.

“There’s a commitment to trying to work in partnership with Māori within the festival in terms of the Treaty and things like that.”

Forrester says rangatahi (young people) wanting to pursue a performing arts career should seek out “your community”.

“I always advise young people to find people that are like-minded and just start making stuff.

“Start writing your own stuff and be part of the community. Go watch shows and people who inspire you.”

The nine M9 speakers are: Te Kohe Tuhaka (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou), Miriama Smith (Te Arawa), Ben Mitchell (Tainui, Ngaati Maahanga), Miriama McDowell (Ngāti Hine), Kura Forrester (Ngāti Porou), Ngahuia Piripi (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi), Awhina-Rose Ashby (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine), Edmund Eramiha (Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tawake Ki Te Wāo Kū, Ngāti Hine), and Julian Arahanga (Ngāti Rangi, Te Āti Haunui-ā-Pāpārangi).

Tickets are now available at Ticketmaster.

Hero image: Actor, writer and comedian Kura Forrester is one of the nine speakers at M9 Aotearoa next month. Photo / Supplied

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