About Skin Writing

About Skin Writing

Jason Photo croppedJason Te Kare

Ko Pirongia toku maunga
Ko Waipa toku awa
Ko Tainui toku waka
Ko Ngati Maniapoto toku iwi
Ko Kotahitanga toku marae
Ko Jason Te Kare toku ingoa

Jason’s intention behind creating Skin Writing was to entice more of the new Māori and Pacific Island script writers into audio drama. The prominence of scripted drama for the stage and screen for this generation has meant knowledge and experience of audio drama is limited. Jason hoped to create a ‘stepping stone’, a vehicle for writers to become acquainted with the medium.

To get the serial off on the right foot, the first series was written by two of our more prominent Māori script writers, Briar Grace-Smith and Albert Belz. Then this second series was written by Jamie McCaskill, Whiti Hereaka and Miria George – three experienced writers who are probably a bit beyond the intended level of writer. Then finally with the third series (due to be broadcast in November 2013) Jamie McCaskill returns as the senior writer looking after the central storyline while four newer writers drop their episodes in to complete the series.

The premise for the serial had to be fertile ground for a wide range of writers, a place where people told all kinds of stories, shared all sorts of experiences. It had to be flexible enough to adapt to the variety of stories, be able to introduce new characters, cultures and environments, yet still clearly all be linked together as one programme. A tattoo studio seemed perfect, especially as tattoo has become more main stream in recent times, with many more people from broader walks of life getting tattoos for a number of different reasons. Tattoos are also significant culturally to Māori and Pacific people, as the art form has been practiced in the south pacific from pre-colonial times. Known as tā moko by Māori and tatau in the Pacific, there’s been an explosion in the popularity of the traditional tattoo’s and their designs recently. Māori and non- Māori, Pacific and non-Pacific people have them, prominent sportspeople, musicians – including the likes of Ben Harper, Michael Franti, Robbie Williams, Mike Tyson and most recently, Rihanna. This has led to many questions, debates, disagreements and protests about the art form. Who has the right to wear what tattoo? Is it right to have one if you’re not of that culture? Can you own and protect a tattoo design? How do you stop a tattooist from another part of the world just copying something they see in a book, magazine or online? What if a tattoo is inspired by tā moko or tatau and not trying to copy it, is that okay? All of these questions pointed to one thing, the location for a drama serial.

Whiti Small

Whiti Hereaka

Ko Tongariro toku maunga
Ko Taupo-nui-a-Tia toku moana
Ko Ngati Tuwharetoa me Te Arawa toku iwi
Ko Oruanui toku marae
Ko Whiti Hereaka toku ignoa

Whiti Hereaka is an award-winning playwright and novelist who lives in Wellington. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She is currently a writer in residence at the University of Iowa as part of their 2013 International Writing Program. She is the author of two novels The Graphologist’s Apprentice (Huia, 2010) and Bugs (Huia, 2013). The Graphologist’s Apprentice was shortlisted for Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Asia/Pacific region) in 2011.

Whiti is the 2012 recipient of the Bruce Mason award which recognises the work of emerging playwrights.  She won Best New Play by a Maori Playwright, Adam Play Awards in 2010 for the critically-acclaimed Te Kaupoi and again in 2011 for Rona and Rabbit on the Moon. Her play inspired by the poetry of Rowley Habib – Raw Men – was shortlisted for the Adam New Play award 2012.

She has had several plays produced: Fallow (Tawata Productions 2005), Collective Agreement (Young and Hungry 2005), I Ain’t Nothing But/A Glimmer in the Dark She Said (Open Book Productions for STAB 2006), Te Kaupoi (Bush Collective 2010 also performed at the Hawkins Theatre in Papakura), For Johnny (Young and Hungry, 2011) and Rewena (Centrepoint Theatre, 2013).


Nga puke ki Hauraki ki tarehu
E mihi ana ki te whenua
E tangi ana ki te tangata
Tihei Mauri ora

Ko Moehau te maunga
Ko tikapa te moana
Ko Waihou te awa
Ko Te Pae O Hauraki te marae
Ko Hauraki te iwi
Ko Ngati Tamatera te hapu
No Thames Ahau
Ko Jamie McCaskill toku ingoa

Jamie is a writer/actor/musician based in Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula. Jamie has performed all over the country, most recently touring with the site-specific piece Party with the Aunties. He co-wrote He reo Aroha with Miria George and his latest play Manawa is still touring and being developed into a film with the NZ Film Commission.  Jamie currently works for Hauraki Womens Refuge as a Performance Advocate and is using the arts to advocate against violence. Jamie’s latest script Not in out Neighbourhood premiers in November 2013.

Miria George croppedMiria George

Ko te Horohoroi-nga-ringaringa-o-Kahumatamomoe te pae maunga,
Ko Pokaitu te awa,
Ko Ngatoroirangi te pou haki,
Ko Kearoa te whare tupuna,
Ko Kearoa te marae,
Ko Ngati Kearoa, Ngati Tuara te hapu.
Ko Te Arawa, ko Ngati Awa, ko Ngati Kuki Airani oku iwi.

(New Zealand Maori: Tribal Affiliations: Te Arawa, Ngati Awa; Cook Islands Maori: Tribal Affiliations: Ngati Tinomana, Ngati Rongo-ma-tane, Cook Islands)


Miria is a poet, and writer for theatre, radio and television. An award-winning playwright. Miria’s work has toured New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, Canada and the United Kingdom. In 2007, and what remains marked Miria’s international debut as a playwright. Other works include He Reo Aroha, Urban Hymns and Sunset Road. He Reo Aroha, co-written with Jamie McCaskill, has toured extensively internationally and premiered in Wellington at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2010. Urban Hymns was developed in Toronto, Canada, with Native Earth Performing Arts at Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival ahead of the play’s dual premieres in Wellington and Auckland 2009. Sunset Road was also developed at Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival 2010, ahead of its world premiere at Circa Theatre, in June 2012.

Miria holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, and is a member of the acclaimed writer’s collective Writer’s Block. Also a published poet, The Wet Season is Miria’s debut collection of poetry, published by the Wai-te-ata Press. Miria is a producer for Tawata Productions and co-founder of the Tawata Press.

About the Drama Department

The Drama Department commissions new writing and seeks to work with New Zealand’s best writers. Each year, up to 30 hours of new drama and comedy more than 200 readings (one-off short stories and serialised book readings), and over 50 new children's stories are produced.