Skip Content
Caleb Rawiri Tata
When it comes to dancing Caleb Rawiri-Tata has no words.

“I can’t really explain how much I love dancing, I can only feel. For me it’s an extension of myself.”

While the 22-year-old is busy working in show business with jobs at the Māngere Arts Centre, the Manukau Theatre Company and even Rainbow’s End, this wasn’t always the case.

Raised in kapa haka, thanks to his parents’ occupation as cultural performers at Auckland Museum, Caleb along with his siblings, grew up singing and dancing with confidence.

Then he auditioned for major projects, including the opportunity to be part of a dance crew run by one of his role-models, Parris Goebel and was unsuccessful. For the rising star who believed in his skills and was identified as a top Dance and Drama student at one Tree Hill College, it was a shock to his system.

“Straight after school I was in a dark place, I didn’t know where to go or what to do and I wasn’t sure what my goals were. I think I spent about four months doing absolutely nothing. I was trying to look for a place where I belonged and where I wanted to be but after that I thought, I’d take a break from trying.”

In 2015, Caleb’s friend suggested enrolling at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

“The combination of kapa haka and performing arts, just that in itself made me want to come,” he says.

“You get to find yourself - to find new things that you didn’t know you had or could do.”

Caleb says it also  gave him perspective of where he wanted to go as an entertainer, representing Cook Island Māori and Ngāti Tuwharetoa.

“It gave me an identity. In school I loved being a performer so when I came to the wānanga, going through all the performing arts styles; singing, dancing, acting, kapa haka, all of that together, I loved all of it,” he says.

“One goal was to be a choreographer and the wānanga gave me so many opportunities and really good insights into the industry.”

Over the last three years, as well as choreographing items for TWoA’s performing arts showcase Toi Tu Fest and a haka fusion performance for a Matariki event at Te Papa, he’s also been able to act in a TV comedy series and taken part in numerous theatre shows, including the highly popular Wizard of Ōtāhuhu which played to sold-out audiences.

Now that he’s doing what he loves, his advice to other school leavers is to believe in yourself more.

“Just open your shell and always keep it open. The place that I’m now in my life, I’m just enjoying what I’m doing right now.”
 Back to news & events

Published On:

Article By:



Other Articles

  • 24 July, 2020

    Time to make Matariki a public holiday

    This month we once again greeted Matariki as the star constellation rose above the eastern horizons to herald a new year in te Ao Māori.

  • 13 July, 2020

    A star in his own right

    Professor Rangi Mataamua, the Tūhoe astronomer who worked with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to develop the popular Te Iwa o Matariki roadshow exhibition, has been awarded the Prime Minister’s science communications prize from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

  • 6 July, 2020

    Karate couple explore parenting prowess

    It’s parenting and leadership – and how to do this even better - that has been the focus of their current participation in the two-year He Waka Hiringa Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

  • 3 July, 2020

    Long-term benefits of business study

    It’s taken years of hard work and Alex credits his business studies with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa as providing the base from which the company has grown.