Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff St, Mt Victoria, Wellington

18/05/2006 - 20/05/2006

Production Details

Created by Kip Chapman, with James Milne and Paul Rothwell
Originally directed by Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Based on a collection of artlessly shot New Zealand slides the show performed by Kip Chapman, highlights the ordinary things that make us proud to be a Kiwi. Scenes range from a survivors account of the Wahine disaster and the Peter Plumley Walker Drinking game to a waitress’s poetic listing of standard New Zealand Café fare. Each scene is told in a different style and linked by a feeling of nostalgia and James Milne’s affectionate music.

Further to the play Arohaotearoa offers each small community the chance to celebrate these themes as a whole. You are invited to embrace the Kiwi tradition of “Bringing a plate,” and after the show interact with one another and the performers over cups of tea, lamingtons, egg sandwiches, sausage rolls, apple slice, lolly cake, and neenish tarts!

18 May, 8pm – Taraua Tramping Club
19 May, 8pm – St Judes Church Hall
20 May, 8pm – Island Bay Surf Club (bring a cushion)

Performed by
Kip Chapman (actor)
James Milne (accompanist)

Theatre ,

Idiosyncratic love letter

Review by John Smythe 19th May 2006

This little gem played a brief season in Auckland in 2004 and has been resurrected for three nights only, in three small halls in Wellington, as a fundraiser for a South Island tour of community halls in October.

Something of a love letter to an Aotearoa of yesteryear, its idiosyncratic approach renders the ordinary extraordinary and the banal hilarious. A random selection of "artlessly shot New Zealand slides" that any Kiwi would recognise, gives a degree of continuity to a series of character-based sketches delivered by the unassuming but hugely talented Kip Chapman.

The material is largely written by Kip and his musical accompanist James Milne, with additional wordsmithery by Paul Rothwell. And the show was originally directed by Jennifer Ward-Lealand, ensuring that each concept, no matter what, is grounded in compelling truth.

There are subtly post-modernised takes on history, witty misplacings of slides, a passionate account of the natural wonders of this great land accompanied by slides of motel car parks … People, families, fashions, scenery, Vauxhalls, Zephyrs and Morris Oxfords, Shell and Supershell petrol bowsers, the stunning vistas of lakes, mountains, glaciers, hydro-electric dams and turbines, the national grid itself … and blossom festivals …

But it’s the people who bring it all alive, not least the man who keeps returning to add a chapter to his extraordinary tale of a memorable trip to Christchurch with his reluctant wife Judith, and their return on the Wahine that fateful day in 1968.

There’s the girl who went to school for half a year with Anna Paquin, the Baxteresque poem about Clorinda Jean and Whitlow’s gold, the aforementioned holiday the climaxed with the unexpected witnessing of the whale whisperer herself … The fare on offer at a classic Kiwi canteen serves up a linguistic feast of astonishing size and eloquence. And a hitherto undiscovered letter from a famous short story writer gets a heartfelt airing.

With singing a strong suit in Kip Chapman’s repertoire, he delivers the goods with a stunning love duet and a plaintive cry for "you bright young sons and daughters" to come back to Wanganui.  

The audience is asked to compete in a thrilling episode of Name The Province, Name The Bay. Kip pays the stripping penalty of a drinking game involving the names Peter, Plumley and Walker … And finally he conquers the very audience itself with an act of Hilarian derring-do.

On this first of three night it felt a tad long, partly because transitions were a bit ropey at times – which of course can be part of the genre – and also because things felt tacked on at the end where a sense of accumulation building to a climax would have served the work better.

Doubtless more work will be done. Meanwhile if you get a chance to see it, do (click in the title above for details of when and where). And take a plate, there’ll be supper and a chat afterwards. A community event par excellence, mate.


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