An adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous play Othello, Te Taipo is set in pre-colonial New Zealand in 1796, 90% in te reo Maori and is is a psychological thriller about love, jealousy and betrayal.
When the Kahui-pou tribe find an Englishman washed ashore after a ship wreck, he is made to run the gauntlet of the whakataurekareka (to make a slave). Just as the ritual reaches its climax Teremoana (Desdemona, 8) disrobe’s her father Papahuia (Brabantio) of his red feather cloak and throws it over the white man, saving his life. From that day on the man is known as Te Taipo (The Goblin).
Twelve years later we find Te Taipo as the adopted son of Paramount Chief Papahuia, and the general of arms for the tribal army. This makes him the foster brother to Teremoana (20), now grown to a striking beauty. The apple of her father’s eye and the ceremonial virgin for the tribe, Teremoana develops a natural and forbidden love for Te Taipo. When Rotokahu (Roderigo), a secret admirer of Teremoana, witnesses these two committing vows to each other in secret, he hatches a plan to separate them.
Rotokahu approaches Ikaaho (Iago), a trusted ensign to Te Taipo, to conjure up a way to sway Teremoana’s love towards him. Jealous of Te Taipo’s position in the tribe, Ikaaho takes this opportunity to weave a web of lies and deceit to severely hurt his general. He surreptitiously informs Te Taipo that his beloved wife Teremoana has been disloyal and unfaithful, planting evidence to substantiate his accusations
Te Taipo is slow to convince but as Ikaaho continues to fuel his suspicions, a fire of rage is ignited inside him that creates a war of emotion that leads to the fall of a great dynasty.