Kiwi Moon

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

31/10/2022 - 31/10/2022

Production Details

Based on the book by: Gavin Bishop, Stage adaptation by: Rachel Callinan
Te Reo Māori Translations by: Regan Taylor
Director: Regan Taylor

Capital E’s National Theatre for Children presents Kiwi Moon, a charming tale of self-discovery based on Gavin Bishop’s iconic New Zealand story.  

Meet Little Kiwi; tiny, unusual, bright, white and unique. Follow along as they search for Māmā through the bush, learn to snuffle and shuffle, and meet creatures like juicy Huhu and hardcase Kākāpō and discover they have the courage to embrace their difference.  



Run time: 50 minutes


Little Kiwi - Gabby Clark

Te Marama Māmā Kiwi - Bella Robertson

Kurī & Kākāpō - Tadhg Mackay

Based on the book by Gavin Bishop

Stage adaption by Rachel Callinan

Te Reo translations by Regan Taylor

Previous director Regan Taylor

Remount Director Jason Te Mete

Artistic Director; National Theatre for Children Lynne Cardy

Songs by Tane Upjohn-Beatson

‘Kurī’s Gotta Catch a Kiwi’ Song by Oliver Devlin and Regan Taylor

Set Design and Construction Tony De Goldi

Costume and Puppet Design and Construction Ian Harman

Sound Designer Oliver Devlin

Puppeteering Consultant Kenny King


 Production Team


Managing Producer Kathiy Watson

Associate Producer Nina hogg

Production Coordinator Mattias Olofsson

Tour Manager Adam Koveskali

Stage Manager Neal Barber

Photography Stephen A’Court

Children’s , Puppetry , Te Reo Māori , Theatre ,


An enchanting production of an enchanting story

Review by Terry MacTavish 02nd Nov 2022

Hallowe’en, and tiny evil trick-or-treaters from some alien culture are banging my Shakespeare door knocker, as I attempt this review of our own indigenous and exquisite Kiwi Moon.

“Make them sing a song,” writes my illustrious friend Renée, “children shouldn’t get something for nothing.” I long to insist they do the Kiwi Moon’s cute ‘Shuffle, snuffle for hu-hu grubs’. Then give them grubs.

Just kidding, I am a very nice person because I have seen an inordinate amount of Children’s Theatre over the years, and, in Aotearoa at least, plays for tamariki are almost always uplifting and life-affirming, and designed to make nicer (and greener) grown-ups of us.

Certainly this absolute classic, based on Gavin Bishop’s lovely picture book about a little albino kiwi, is replete with heart-warming messages about accepting and celebrating difference, showing courage and kindness, and cherishing our land, our friends and whanau.

It is the third time Capital E National Theatre for Children has adapted Kiwi Moon for the stage, the first being the splendid mahi of Peter Wilson, and this iteration, directed by Regan Taylor and remounted by Jason Te Mete, is an impeccable choice. I truly hope more schools embrace this rich opportunity to introduce a new generation to an award-winning New Zealand book, and to the excitement of professional theatre.

The audience seems a little young – pre-schoolers who have travelled all the way from Roxburgh – but their parents confidently assure me it is never too soon to get them hooked on theatre, especially when the gorgeous Regent is practically a palace. Certainly, blonde cherub Charlotte (18 months) is a-quiver with enthusiasm, scampering up the aisle triumphantly yelling, ‘Duck!’ on each appearance of Little Kiwi.

Kiwi Moon is entrancingly beautiful to look at, with eerie lighting and stunning projections of a mysterious moonlit ferny glen, stylised, like Māori art. I’ve rarely seen our moody native bush evoked so vividly. We can almost smell the damp undergrowth, trip over the twisted roots, and entwine our fingers in the fern fronds, as we learn to forage with Little Kiwi.  

The story is told through a skilful blending of theatrical elements, with delightful music and catchy songs by Tane Upjohn-Beatson, the pre-schoolers responding with infectious giggles to their favourite, the teasing jiggly dance of the hu-hu grubs. The three actors are skilled puppeteers, operating bunraku style, almost invisible in black, but giving distinctive voice to their rod puppets.

Gabby Clark is especially endearing as naïve Little Kiwi, giving it their all with a winning sincerity and simplicity. The tale of the age-old journey to self-discovery, complicated by shining white feathers that make it impossible to ‘blend in’, is made fresh again in Clark’s capable hands. Starting as a hatchling, Little Kiwi at first assumes the bright white moon is Mama, and forms a touching connection to Te Marama, that endures right to the moving conclusion.

Bella Robertson as cosy Mama Kiwi, coping kindly with her chick’s special difference, has a delightfully appropriate New Zild accent, changing to a rich warm te reo when she speaks as the wise and all-seeing Moon, Te Marama.

Tadhg Mackay is in his own skin, and his element, as charming but conceited Kākāpō, especially when showing off his skill on the saxophone – “handsomest, coolest, saxiest!” Blowing his own trumpet, indeed. Mackay adroitly creates another, darker character as Kurī, the dangerous dog sent to hunt down the kiwis for their valuable feathers, and some of the little ones are frightened. Charlotte howls.

The sinister human realm is shown as it is in Bishop’s illustrations, mere details around the edges of the page/backdrop:  the pā, the settler’s cottage, marching feet, fire, death and destruction form an ominous but barely recognised background to the cosy, earthy kiwi world, impinging only in the horror of Kurī’s attack. Hardly glimpsed, yet the stuff of genuine nightmares, more terrifying than the three-foot axe-murderer on my doorstep.

My tamariki guests, Magenta (6) whose own mother is called Marama, and Ayanna (10) whose mother has moko kauae even more beautiful than the Moon’s, are old enough to appreciate the subtleties of an enchanting production of an enchanting story. And the message they take away is one of caring and sharing, so much sweeter than demanding treats with menaces from strangers: just puff out your chest, fluff up your feathers, and glow, glow brighter than Te Marama herself!

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