Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

04/03/2015 - 08/03/2015

Auckland Arts Festival 2015

Production Details

Sensitive, authentic and compelling, Nancy Brunning’s debut, award-winning play Hīkoi makes its world premiere from Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 March at Rangatira, Q Theatre during Auckland Arts Festival 2015. 

It’s the 1970s and 80s in New Zealand and two generations of the Miller whānau, swept up in irreversible change, are trying to give voice to what’s going on in their lives. 

Husband and wife Nellie and Charlie are at odds with each other. With their family’s future at stake they can’t agree about whether to fight for what they believe in or forge a new future and forget past grievances. Meanwhile, their five hard case teens, fed up with their parents’ silences, secrets and quarrels pack their bags and take off in searchof answers.

Hīkoi is an emotional road trip deep into the heart of our country’s history and some of the major moments and turning points for New Zealanders along the way. The revival of te reo Māori, the land-focused Māori protest movement, with the Bastion Point occupation and 1975 hīkoi; the Springbok tour; and the landmark Te Māori art exhibition in which Māori exhibited Māori art internationally for the first time.

The audience journeys with the Miller family, sharing the laughs and the tears, and coming to understand how the closest family members can see things from different points of view.

Nancy Brunning is an actor, writer and director, and has appeared in New Zealand film, television and theatre including White Lies, Paniora, Top Girls, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, Waiora and Shortland Street.

Hikoi was named co-runner up for Best Play, and Best Play by a Māori Playwright at the 2014 Adam NZ Play Awards.

With support from Creative New Zealand and Four Winds Foundation



Rangatira, Q Theatre
Wednesday 4 March – Friday 6 March, 7.30pm
Saturday 7 March, 1.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 8 March, 4.00pm
Price:  A Res $55.00 | A Res Friend/Conc/Group $49.00 | B Res $45.00 | B Res Friend/Conc/Group $39.00

Book at Ticketmaster outlets: www.ticketmaster.co.nz/ | P: 09 970 9700 or 0800 111 999.

Wesley Dowdell:  Barry Simpson 
Kura Forrester:  May Miller 
Kali Kopae:  Nellie (Māehe) Miller 
Jamie McCaskill:  Charlie Miller 
Amanda Noblett:  Bubba (Gracie) Miller 
Manuel Solomon:  Joseph Miller 
Ngakopa Volkerling:  Pearl Miller 
Aroha White:  Janey-Girl Miller 

Writer/Director:  Nancy Brunning 
Sound Design:  Mara TK 
Set Design:  Wai Mihinui and Jaime Warda 
Lighting Design:  Jane Hakaraia 
Costume Design:  Amy MaCaskill 
Co-Producer:  Hāpai Productions Tapui Limited 
Production Manager:  Natasha James 
Production Assistant:  Blair Ryan 
Stage Manager:  Karena Latham 

Theatre ,

2hrs including interval


Review by Sharu Delilkan 08th Mar 2015

Witnessing a theatrical premiere is indeed a privilege but when it’s local with historical ties, such as Hīkoi, and it’s a world premiere makes for an even more momentous occasion. 

Writer Nancy Brunning’s cleverly crafted words come alive as soon as the show begins. Her ability to reel in the crowd with her sharp-witted dialogue and repartee, incites crowd reaction instantaneously.

The Miller family is headed by mother Nellie (Kali Kopae) and father Charlie (Jamie McCaskill), who are astutely matched by the flawless performances of the young ensemble cast playing their hard case teenage children … [More]


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Review by Dione Joseph 05th Mar 2015

August: Osage County is considered an American classic; a drama that offers a quintessential glimpse into the heartland of American family life as three daughters return to the family home to mourn the passing of their father and come to terms with unresolved histories. Considered one of the country’s greatest stories, this dark comedy by Tracey Letts heralded a wave of stories that turned inwards, speaking back to the land and the people. 

HĪKOI has the potential to be to Aotearoa what August is to Americans. That’s not to say neither have their flaws, but HĪKOI has a subtle power that is distinctly unique. Unlike August, which is a distinctly singular white narrative, HĪKOI gives voice to Māori to speak back to Māori. This isn’t a sugar coated educational history lesson for the Pākeha;  it is an unapologetic testimony to a history that is and has been actively excluded from the mainstream narrative of this country’s past.

It begins with five kids on a bus. There’s Janey-Girl (Aroha White) who’s the oldest and takes it upon herself to the be the boss, even if she does have a twin, the tough and hardened May (Kura Forrester), who manages to keep things together when tempers are flying between her siblings. Then there’s Joe (Manuel Solomon), the man of the family, whose survival has come from dealing with his four sisters, the other two being Pearl (Ngakopa Volkering), who is always on edge, and Bubba (Amanda Noblett), the youngest, who is often away with the fairies.

This lot are on their way to find their mum and both literally and metaphorically; it is their journey (and ours too as an audience) to find out why the initially shy and retiring Nellie (Kali Kopae) who loved her husband (Jamie McCaskill) and children would choose to place the fight for Māori land, language and rights before her own children.

The play isn’t a judgement story. But it is a winding twisting tale that sheds light on attempts of what today would be called cultural genocide. It explores the ramifications of foster care, the abuse at schools, the separation of family and the gradual brainwashing that percolated through thousands of children who were taught that to move forward the past must be forgotten.

HĪKOI is brave but it is also timely. Nancy Brunning has created characters who are recognisable, familiar and puts a story on the mainstage that talks straight up and straight out. Set against the increasing activism of the 70s and 80s, the story flashes between the past and the present. When Nellie and Charlie were young and in love, both Māori but from different worlds, Nellie’s desire to be part of the conversation and the change that was sweeping the nation increased, while Charlie’s paralysing fear forced him to play it safe.

Ultimately, five headstrong children take it into their own hands and it is a credit to Brunning’s rich and potent characters that, aside from the occasional forced dialogue, the story never tips into caricature or cliché. 

A strong and dedicated ensemble, the stand-out of the night is Kura Forrester: a combination of her character’s traits and her own brilliant skills carries the story forward even with her silences. Manuel Solomon too traces the coming-of-age arc exceedingly well within the two hour time frame, giving a poignant and memorable performance.

Beneath the evocative soundscape of Mara TK and the minimalist but superbly lit (thanks to Jane Hakaria) set design by Wai Mihinui and Jaimee Warda, the story unravels, revealing the wounds and the sores left by the past.

Towards the end the narrative does seem to lose some of its momentum and veer towards the didactic, the climax fell flat and the energy seemed to dissipate as no clear resolution was reached. In its current version it is probably still a tad too long and a few of the metaphors unfortunately are overstretched but the story is nevertheless a powerful one and certain to be a remarkable highlight of the Auckland Arts Festival. 

Riveting in story and direction, Nancy Brunning has certainly set the stage for a new wave of stories to be told from Aotearoa back to her people.


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