“Te Pou always push me to do better, to be better and to do more.” – Tuakoi Ohia

Tuakoi's Te Pou Story

Tuakoi’s story with Te Pou Theatre, like many others, began as an audition. She arrived to audition for her first theatre production ‘Black Ties’ in 2019. As an experienced Kaihaka, she was no stranger to the stage, but she had not considered theatre. She was an emerging actress, in the middle of her first on-screen debut with ‘Ahikaaroa’, when she decided to give theatre a go. She did not anticipate that this first audition with Amber and Tainui, would be the foundation for her career and open the door to several opportunities.

She proclaims that she is but “..one of the many children who was raised by Te Pou!” She was casted as the lead role “Hera” in Black Ties, presented at Aotea Centre, and was a part of the touring group that travelled to Melbourne. She had not trained as an actress, and she says all her support and development as an artist was nurtured through Te Pou Theatre. She spent the rest of 2019 upskilling and taking part in all workshops and development initiatives Te Pou had to offer. Mainly, Te Pou Awe Acting Classes, through the Whakapuāwai programme.

Tuakoi has been involved in many of the kaupapa at Te Pou. In 2020, she was a part of the touring group that performed throughout the first Covid Lockdown, in a new initiative ‘Front Yard Festival’, performing to nannies and koros. Also, amidst lockdown, Tuakoi acted in five short plays, and then shortly after went on tour to kura around Tāmaki, performing the childrens play ‘Double Bill’.


For a big part of 2021, Tuakoi has been involved in all of Te Pou Theatre’s touring performances. She was a part of the ensemble that was Rawiri Paratene’s final performance, ‘Peter Paka Paratene’, also presented at Kia Mau Festival in Wellington. The mixture of experience in each project has enabled tuakana/teina relationships and Tuakoi says Te Pou “are so innovative in how they tautoko Māori artists”. She also travelled up North to perform immersive satirical theatre ‘Racists Anonymous’ and interactive kura show ‘Te Mahi a Rahi’.


She has been involved in all Kōanga festivals since she joined the whānau, volunteering for Whānau Day and taking part in the play readings. She has found this rewarding and she has observed the consistent support Te Pou give to Māori artists, saying “It’s incredible, the support that have for Māoridom”. Building relationships with other Māori artists through Te Pou kaupapa has also afforded her great opportunities in the industry also, and not all as a performer. She was involved in Auckland Theatre Company ‘The Haka Party Incident’ as a teaching artist and she has also spent time working for Mind Over Manner – Theatre for Social Change. Reflecting on her career so far, she says ‘it all goes back to Te Pou’.


A new change is ahead for Tuakoi, as she embarks on her first play ‘KŌPŪ’. She says Te Pou whānau “..always push me to do better, to be better and to do more.” Writing and weaving kōrero of Te Ira Wahine, through live music, performance, poetry and poi, KŌPŪ will feature in The 2022 ‘Auckland Arts Festival’. Taking a big step, Tuakoi is expanding her growth to include writing, leading the roopu and directing shows. Guided by the leaders of Te Pou, Tuakoi feels courageous and confident in how this show will unravel. She leaves a final comment about her journey, saying “I come from a lot of different communities, but Te Pou has been the most supportive whānau for me as an artist”.

Tautoko mai

Kōpū was scheduled to present with Auckland Arts Festival in March 2022. Now, in wake of cancellations due to COVID-19 we are determined to self present Tuakoi’s work this year. You can help us to make that happen!