It has always been a dream of mine to have my own theatre company, that utilises the unique experiences of those with first hand knowledge of the criminal justice system, to take Forum Theatre (interactive theatre) to the masses.  Thanks to this AMAZEBALLS team a dream is coming true – whoop whoop…!!

Back when I was 17, over 30 years ago (NOOOOO WAY…!!  I hear you saying, that means you’re… 😊) I started using drama to encourage those who for whatever reason, found themselves on the wrong side of the law, to challenge themselves to become involved in something pro-social.  That was my first taste of realising the positive impact that drama can have.

Originally from the UK, I wore many different working hats. I was an actor, a youth worker, a housing support worker, drama tutor, pre-release course tutor for juvenile prisoners, resettlement worker for prisoners, drug treatment services manager in prisons, all of which enriched my skills and experience to be the best version of me.

Fast forward a few years and here I am - I blumming love Aotearoa and feel extremely privileged and proud to call this country my home.  And there’s no getting rid of me now because as soon as I was eligible, I became a citizen – whoop whoop…!!

The Happy You…!!  Theatre Company was born at Otago Corrections Facility where the then prison director, Jack Harrison, agreed to me using drama as a tool for change with the men in their care.  It’s grown arms and legs since then and I blumming love it, I love all our performances, I love the commitment, dedication and vulnerability of the team, I love our audiences, I love witnessing the epiphanies of the actors and the audience and I love seeing people genuinely moved by our actors’ abilities as well as their honesty and bravery.

As I’m writing this, I have the biggest smile slapped across my face that matches the smile in my heart.  The fruition of the Happy You…!! Theatre Company genuinely means the absolute world to me and I can’t thank this wee team enough for jumping on this waka with me.


I always wanted to be an actor. I even went to Performing Arts College after High School. Life went in other directions though, and I took a wee detour through an Anthropology degree, a stint in tourism, some time as a Corrections Officer, parenthood, youth work and community development.

Then I found this lot. I feel extremely lucky to have met Ruth (my sister from another mister) and for her to have invited me into the special world of Forum theatre. The people we have the privilege to work with are so incredibly inspiring.
I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until now: part of Happy You…!!


He mihi atu ki a koutou katoa.

My name is Iraia, born in Turangi of Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Porou descent. Nae Nae, Lower Hutt being my hometown, currently living in Dunedin.

I am a Carpenter/Builders apprentice, I like physical work and making things with my hands. I have always enjoyed creating and being a part of something that can be enjoyed by others (A job well done!).

I am a true believer in the power of positive influence and hope that what I contribute will make a difference in the life of another.

“Be the change you want to see in the world!!!” (Arleen Lorrance, 1974).

I enjoy a good story and think that everyone has their own unique story to tell or share. Theatre has opened me to many stories of others and a platform to share them, creating discussion.

“He aha te kai a te Rangatira?” (“What is the food of the chiefs?”)

“He korero He korero He korero” (It is discussion/dialogue/knowledge”). (Dewes, 1975)

Follow along people and I hope you all enjoy what I have to contribute.

Nga mihi