Ambitious NZ-Chinese play tells love story

The Government will spend $1 million financing a love story between a Chinese woman and a Maori warrior to tour Chinese and Kiwi theatres.

The play, Xin and Tane, will be a Maori-Chinese co-production developed by New Zealand Maori Tourism and the Beijing Dance Academy.

The play, which is in development, could tour both countries next year.

Its story, which will also reference godwits - which fly between China and New Zealand - will climax with the Chinese and Maori coming together as one.

It was hailed as "a major economic initiative" by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, who said $500,000 of the money was new funding and $500,000 reprioritised from other projects.

He described the play as "a joint New Zealand Maori and Chinese stage production that builds on work in bridging cultural and economic relationships between New Zealand and China".

The total cost would be $2m, split 50-50 between China and New Zealand. Private sponsorship would also need to be secured.

Sharples is keen to develop Maori economic ties with China and believes the play will help create links between the Maori economy and Chinese business.

The play is not the only recent big money attempt to create links with China. Education New Zealand spent $900,000 on a documentary promoting New Zealand as an education destination shown on national television in China last year.

In addition to the play funding, NZ Maori Tourism received $6m over four years towards its work. Whanau Ora, the social development scheme, also received $15m extra to pay for its "navigator" services. Other spending included $8m to set up a Maori Innovation Fund, $12m over four years towards iwi radio stations, and $10m for Maori sports and cultural activities.