Loose Canons22.09.23
#pijf#loose canons

Loose Canons: Hine Te Ariki Parata-Walker

Hine Te Ariki Parata-Walker shares five things that inspired her play 'The Jumpers', which will be read as a part of the Kōanga Festival 2023.

Image: Ben Cowper, The Gisborne Herald

The Tolaga Bay Wharf

The Jumpers is my love letter to the Tolaga Bay Wharf. At 660m long, it’s the longest wharf in Aotearoa and an iconic attraction in Tolaga Bay on the East Coast. In summer, tourists swarm the wharf to fill their social media profiles with picturesque holiday vibes. As kids, we got used to sharing our paradise with visitors. But when the tourists were gone, that’s when the real magic happened. Friendships were forged, tested, and cemented through countless days of swimming and basking in the glow of the rising sun. This is a classic summer destination, and I tried to imbue The Jumpers with nostalgic summer energy.

Image: Shutterstock

Social Media ‘Influencers’

You and your mates are enjoying a casual day jumping off the wharf, and your favourite celebrity influencer suddenly shows up. In your hometown? No way! That’s pretty much the premise for The Jumpers. What would you do to capture your idol's attention? What would you do to keep it? Will the reality of your idol meet your expectations of them? Influencer culture is bigger than ever on social media. I wondered what it would be like for that world to collide with rural, small-town, Coasty kids, and how fun it would be to explore an extraordinary day where these two forces met.

Friendship stories

There’s something whimsical and magical about a coming-of-age story: a band of spirited young friends on an epic adventure together as they explore their world. Think Avatar: Legend of Aang or Stand By Me. Together, they experience their first lessons in comradery and loyalty, first love and loss. I wanted The Jumpers to be filled with those joyous feelings and for the audience to be ushered on this journey by a cast of strong, funny, talented friends who know and love each other and are deeply connected to the land they stand on.

The Sea

To Maori, the sea holds Gods and the children of Gods. So, there are rules with the ocean and consequences for breaking the rules. There’s a lot kids can learn from the rules of the sea. Growing up surrounded by water, we learned humility. We kids, with our big dreams and feelings, were such small players when confronted with the vastness of Te Moananui-a-Kiwa. We learnt you gotta have backs, or it’s dangerous when the sea is rough. We felt the seasons change – watched the hoards of jellyfish float into the bay, a fisherman catch a shark, and saw a penguin or seal wash up on the rocks. We knew then the waters were warming and got excited because we also knew… summer was here.


Sir Apirana Ngata has a poem, A Scene from the Past, in which he describes the natural talent of Maori kids. “These children, untutored, by Nature endowed, may charm yet Apollo, the God of all Graces”. I love that poem! Go read it. It’s so relevant to The Jumpers. Manu’s are a staple summer pastime for kids across Aotearoa at their favourite swimming spots, a wharf, bridge, lake, pool, you name it. I remember the kids at the wharf were like Māori Simone Biles and Micheal Phelps. Even more impressive, no one’s teaching these kids to double backflip. No one coached them on how to pop the meanest manus. They just observed and copied the older kids. And practised and practised until… as they say, practice makes perfect. And boy, when you witness kids carefree in this natural environment, it may indeed charm the Gods.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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