Gilbert And Kahu

29 Minutes


Rugby, drugs, drinking, fighting and “the wrong crowd” were Christchurch teenager Teone Kahu’s life when he took to the stage at the beginning of 2010 at Aranui High School.

Now the talented 18 year old has been selected to act and train at the bastion of Shakespearean theatre, London’s Globe, along with 23 other New Zealand students as part the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival.

Kahu, Aranui High School rugby captain and player of the year, credits his turn around to Aranui High School Academy Drama teacher Robert Gilbert.

Gilbert himself had a rough beginning to his life. Leaving school at 15 with no qualifications but a love of acting, he spent the next seven years performing mostly theatre-in-education, touring schools around New Zealand.

He also found the time to study for a Bachelor of Arts (Education) degree from Massey University and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning from Christchurch College of Education.

Gilbert cast Kahu in the lead role of the school’s production of Macbeth. “I really had a tough time with the script early on,” Kahu said, “but then Matua [Mr Gilbert] put it down on a CD for me and it all just clicked.”

Gilbert the mentor and inspirational teacher, believes theatre and acting can change lives, and Kahu the trainee actor was heading for “the life of a bum”, until he discovered, thanks to Gilbert, he had better options.

Kahu has been selected to become a fulltime performer in the Aranui Theatre Company, a stand-alone self-supporting Academy for adult students within Aranui High School, – five actors will continue their studies as adult students under the tutorage of Robert Gilbert.

Despite the interruptions due to the Christchurch earthquake Teone Kahu heads off to London in July, his first trip outside of New Zealand. All thanks to his drama teacher believing in him and giving him the support and encouragement he needed to help change his life.