Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

04/04/2015 - 18/04/2015

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

26/09/2015 - 10/10/2015

Production Details

Capital E National Theatre for Children

Catchy Songs Capture a Unique Tale 

Capital E National Theatre for Children presents Kiwi Moon proudly supported by FishHead Magazine these April school holidays. From Saturday 4 April –18 April at Wellington’s Hannah Playhouse, a mix of magical puppets, original projection design and catchy songs tell the tale of a little white Kiwi’s journey of self discovery.

Based on Gavin Bishop’s exquisite picture book of the same name, this original stage adaption by Peter Wilson  and new adaption by Rachel Callinan showcases a deceptively simple story that speaks of diversity and how being different has an impact on our community relationships. Follow the tale of a little white kiwi who thinks the moon might be his mother because it is white and bright and round like him. Children will embark on a journey through the forest floor to hula with huhu grubs; watch out for the wekas, and calypso with the handsome Kākāpo.

Gavin Bishop has written and illustrated nearly 60 books ranging from original stories to retellings of Maori myths, European fairy stories and nursery rhymes. He has won numerous national and international awards for his distinctive stories, ink and watercolour illustrations. The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award was established in 2009 in recognition of his contribution to children’s literature and in 2013 he was honoured as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children’s literature.

Capital E Creative Producer, Marianne Taylor says, “This production’s themes encourage children to think about the role nature plays in the life of Aotearoa and its people, and to reflect on caring for the environment and all living things.”

Kiwi Moon features actors Carrie Green, William Duignan, Whitney Channings and Adam Burrell and original puppets by Sue Hill. The show will feature sound design and composition by Stephen Gallagher and song composition by Tane Upjohn-Beatson. The production will feature stunning and original projection design by StoryBox’s Johann Nortje. Written by Rachel Callinan, featuring lighting by Phil Blackburn and set design by John Hodgkins, this will be a must-see production for the whole family under the direction of Kerryn Palmer. After this limited Wellington public season, Kiwi Moon will tour until end of November performing to school children nationwide.

Kiwi Moon runs from
4 – 18 April,
Hannah Playhouse, 12 Cambridge Tce.
Shows only on Monday – Saturday at 11am
(2pm performance on Saturday 4 April).
$12.50 per person, $44 for groups of four, $10 per person for groups of 10+, under 2s are free.

Bookings:   ph:   04 913-3740, or

Sept/Oct 2015
Saturday 26 September – Saturday 10 October; (no show on Sundays)
Hannah Playhouse, 12 Cambridge Tce, Wellington
$12.50 per person; $44 for groups of 4; $10 per person for groups of 10 or more; under twos go free
Book Kiwi Moon and a Central Puppet Show for $20 per person
PLUS When you book for Kiwi Moon, you’ll go in the draw to win a family pass to see the real white kiwi at Pukaha Mount Bruce

Writer:  Rachel Callinan
Director:  Kerryn Palmer
Design:  John Hodgkins
Songs Composition :  Tane Upjohn-Beatson
Other Composition & Sound Design:  Stephen Gallagher
Vocal & Music Coach:  Jacqueline (Jacqui) Coats
Puppet Coach:  Steffen Kreft
Lighting Design:  Phil Blackburn
Stage Manager: Ruth Love

Performer:  Adam Burrell
Performer:  Carrie Green
Performer:  William Duignan
Performer:  Whitney Channings

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

Humorous and heartfelt

Review by Jo Hodgson 29th Sep 2015

Coming into the Hannah Playhouse auditorium from a beautifully sunny spring day we can almost smell the leaf litter from the very peaceful forest scene which is John Hodgkin’s stunning set for the story of Kiwi Moon

Rachel Callinan’s adaptation of Gavin Bishop’s poignant New Zealand story of a little white kiwi who just wants to ‘blend in’ is clear and focused against the backdrop of Stephen Gallagher’s evocative sound design supported by Storybox Ltd’s strong projections. The lighting, designed by Phil Blackburn, depicts the feeling of being in our native bush on a moonlit night perfectly.

Director Kerryn Palmer and her cast and crew take us on a journey of discovery, not just of Little Kiwi’s life and those he meets but also the changing landscape of our country and its inhabitants.

Te Marama, the moon acts as narrator and tells us in the prologue (sung with great heart by Carrie Green) to “Be kind and brave and please take care / Be mindful of this land we share”.

This message echoes throughout the play as Little Kiwi grows and learns the ‘Snuffle Shuffle’ from his mother (sung with parental affection and fun by Whitney Channings). But because of his bright white feathers he can’t blend in to catch the cheeky yoohoo-ing Huhu grubs, the Weka tease and play tricks on him and he even begins to be frustrated that his beloved Te Marama is shining her light on him on purpose. 

A calypso-ing Kakapo (Adam Burrell) advises him to “focus on personality, not looks and what others see” but he too thinks that Little Kiwi is somewhat freakish.

Meanwhile the landscape and environment outside the forest is changing with new inhabitants (man and introduced animals) coming to the land bringing danger to the forest creatures, both a threat to their feathers and to their habitat. 

This story is not without its sad and scary bits. When the Kuri (dog) hurts the mother Kiwi in a brilliantly played out fighting display, Little Kiwi’s glowing white plumage scares him off. Little Kiwi wonders to Te Marama why Kuri would do that and she empathetically reminds him that he too chases the Huhu grubs and “the game we play has puzzling rules – cruel or fair?” 

The puppets (originally made by Sue Hill for the 2008 production) are beautifully expressive under the skilled puppeteering of Adam Burrell, William Duignan, Whitney Channings and Carrie Green. Their characterisations both physically and vocally are humorous and heartfelt. 

Tane Upjohn-Beatson’s catchy songs are diverse in their style and instrumentation and the actors have strong confident voices which harmonise with the yoohooing Huhu’s wonderfully. Only in the Kakapo calypso are some words lost with the accented baritone voice merging with the colour of the instruments.

I particularly like the ‘My Way’ style musical theatre song Little Kiwi (stylistically sung by William Duigan) sings about imagining he is up in the moon looking down and how the other creatures would like him and asking them to “look beyond the feathers to see what’s inside”. 

Kiwi Moon is ultimately a story of self: self-awareness, self-identity, belonging, resilience and acceptance through adversity. Without this clear sense of self and thought for others how can we also “be mindful of the land we share”?


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A must-see holiday highlight

Review by John Smythe 04th Apr 2015

Rachel Callinan’s adaptation of Gavin Bishop’s Kiwi Moon (first published as a picture book in 2005) differs significantly from the version Peter Wilson adapted and directed with Capital E National Theatre for Children in 2008 (reviewed here). Notably the Land Wars are not dramatised and Wilson’s added implication that the little white Kiwi will only return from Te Marama (the moon) when there is peace is replaced by a sung exhortation to please take care of this land we share.

New songs composed by Tane Upjohn-Beatson replace Thomas Press’s compositions. Sue Hill’s brilliant puppets – Mother Kiwi, the little White Kiwi, a Kakapo, a Dragonfly, Huhu Grubs, a Caterpillar, Beetles, Butterflies and a Kurī (dog) – are recommissioned and superbly activated and voiced by the cast: Adam Burrell, William Duignan, Whitney Channings and Carrie Green who also plays Te Marama with compassionate pragmatism and authority.

John Hodgkins’ revitalised set, lit by Phil Blackburn, derives from Bishop’s illustrations but captures the essence of our native bush in its own right. Abetted by Stephen Gallagher’s sound design, the projections (designed by Storybox Ltd) evoke nature’s elements strongly – and it is a nice touch that Carrie Green’s face with chin moko is embedded in the Te Marama image.

It’s new, I think, for Capital E to have the performers to reveal themselves upfront before completing the ‘blackout’ of their puppeteer costumes: “Now you see us, now you don’t.” Somehow this adds to, rather than subtracts from, the magic.

At first glance the story of a white kiwi who doesn’t blend in with the dominant brown kiwis seems satirically ironic until it becomes apparent that ‘blending in’ is not so much about assimilation or conformity as achieving life-preserving camouflage, not only to avoid predators but also to achieve success as a forager. The counterpoint, in a distinctive departure from the book’s conventionally coloured bird, is the multi-coloured Kakapo, proud to stand out and claiming to be celebrating his Brazilian origins, although his musical style is calypso (which is Caribbean).  

The evocation of nocturnal life in the bush is magical; the birth of the little white Kiwi is a visual delight and the brown Mother’s attempts to teach him how to survive, not least through ‘The Snuffle Shuffle’, is educationally entertaining. The realities of the food chain are not side-stepped and nor, at the end, is the fact of death, albeit handled in a very sensitive and subtle way.

The news that men are on the hunt for bird feathers to make a cloak for a chief who has died brings the first major threat beyond night-to-night survival. Mother Kiwi’s fight with the kurī is wonderfully staged and the climax, where her white son used his point of difference to freak the dog out and frighten him off, makes for a triumphant moment.

But Mother is badly wounded. In Callinan’s adaptation it’s not the mother but Te Marama who tells our hero it’s time for him to go and make his own way, and his resistance (ambiguously to her death and/or his having to leave home) is heart-rending.

A bushfire brings the next major threat and the white Kiwi acquits himself well in helping the other creatures – including his traditional prey – to escape. But the only way he can escape the flames is by running to the his only recourse is to the top of a hill, whence he jumps into the arms of Te Marama …

I’m a bit bewildered at the end when Te Marama sings “good night” to the night time and its creatures (shouldn’t it be “good day” at the end of the night?). But overall the production values and high standards Capital E brings to every area of creativity and performance make this Kiwi Moon a must-see holiday highlight best enjoyed in family groups.


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