The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

06/11/2014 - 15/11/2014

Production Details

Perfect for:
Anyone who is a Mum, has a Mum, thinks they might want to be a Mum, can’t be a Mum, thinks like a Mum

Our suggestion:
Invite your girlfriends, sisters, Mum, cousins, aunties, workmates along – we think this show will be a great Girls Night Out!  Bring your husbands, partners, men for some enlightening

The Project

Karla, as Artistic Director of Te Pūanga Whakaari Theatre, invited 3 other women to join her in devising a piece that explored the experience of Motherhood. “When my daughter left home earlier this year at 18 years old, it was like someone clicked their fingers and she was gone, even though when I was in the midst of it all, it felt like I’d be up to my elbows in ‘motherhood’ forever. All of a sudden, her room was empty and I was missing her” – Karla

As a group of Actor/Director/Producer-type Mums, we are different women with different experiences and backgrounds, but the one thing we have in common is being Mothers.

“The piece has quickly grown from our own experiences into an exploration of Motherhood from many perspectives – age, race, infertility, husbands, children – it really is a big melting pot of a condition we call Motherhood.” – Karla

“We’ve had a lot of laughs along the way.  It has also made us reflect on our craft as actors, teachers and Mothers”.  – Karla

The characters have a laugh at themselves, they take themselves a little too seriously sometimes, they explore what it means to be, and not be, a Mum. We see how their mothering impacts on partners, children, and most importantly, themselves.  We see the tornado that is Motherhood, but how quickly it passes as children leave home and the ‘storm’ subsiding.

“We really hope the play will appeal to a wide audience, as most of us have Mothers, but most especially, we hope women and mothers see it as a way to get a group together, take a night off, relax and let us do all the hard work.” – Karla


A small audience have had a sneak peek and said these things:
“I recognise myself in all of those characters”
“It makes me realise I’m not alone and I’m not crazy!”
“It’s like a tribute to Mums. Thank you”
“I think this will appeal to wide range of women – I laughed, I cried and I’m going to go home and hug my kids a little bit harder” 

The Dark Room, CNR Pitt and Church St, Palmerston North
Thursday 6 – Saturday 8 November 
Thursday 13 – Saturday 15 November 
Tickets:  $20/$12 
Bookings: Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North
354 5740 or online at

Te Puanga Whakaari Theatre Productions are proud to partner with BlackSheepDesign, Brad Boniface Photography and Bruce McKenzie Booksellers. 


Te Pūanga Whakaari is a small, professional, contemporary New Zealand theatre company with a focus on promoting and supporting our Manawatu community as much as possible.  We want to present professional and diverse theatre, working collaboratively with artists in our community, as well as inviting professional groups to bring their work into our community – as happened with Party with the Aunties by Erina Daniels and He Reo Aroha by Miria George and Jamie McCaskill.

Artistic directors of Te Pūanga Whakaari are Reihana Haronga and Karla Crofts. Reihana trained as a professional actor under Simon Ferry and Bert vanDijk at UCOL in 1999/2000. Reihana has worked extensively in professional theatre up until 6 years ago when he chose to retrain at Massey University (Primary Teaching).  He now works as a teacher. Karla trained as secondary school teacher of Drama and works full-time as the Arts Coordinator and Head of Drama at FAHS Feilding High School, and has done since 1999.  Working and developing our own theatre company has been a great way to extend ourselves as artists. We are passionate about bringing new and contemporary theatre to our community.  

Our name comes from our first performance.  Pūanga is the first star seen in the sky at Matariki – a time significant to Maori and the timing of our theatre company forming in 2010. It was also the star mentioned in “Purapurawhetu” – our first production.  Whakaari means the work of the arts. So our name is about the beauty and new beginnings of our Arts works.

Funny, touching, convincingly accurate

Review by John C Ross 07th Nov 2014

“A career is easy!!!” Sure, being a mum of babies and little kids is quite hard, with too little sleep, trying to settle recalcitrantly yowling brats, skittering from one half-finished task to another, feeding them, cleaning up messes and bottoms, getting masses of little clothes washed, dried and sorted, worrying desperately about whether you’re doing things right, feeling lonely and frustrated, getting too little help from husbands, who either come home late or are not much use when they are around …

Still, it can be cruelly hard when you want to conceive and things go on not happening; you are facing disappointment, wretchedness, fear of failure.

Each segment of Mums: The Word has one member of the ensemble in a doctor’s white coat, dictating into a handheld Dictaphone the symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis of a certain stage in the condition of Motherhood, as if it’s some kind of ill-health condition (once you’ve got it, you’ve got it for life). Whoever you are, for most women it’s much the same. Accept that.

There’s also a repeated little silent quasi-dance ritual, with the four women in formation, holding and examining their pregnancy testing devices, and either chuffed because they’re positive, or distressed because they’re not, or, for one of them, disgusted because she didn’t want to be and she is (again!). 

Within each segment – getting pregnant, and coping with a baby; coping with toddlers; surviving the organising of a pre-schooler’s birthday party; dealing with oldest kids a bit older and younger ones coming along; facing up to what do you do when they don’t need you any more – each woman gets to indicate her thoughts and hopes, in terms of an entrée, a main course, and dessert.  

It’s very clever, often very funny and often ringing very true even for an ex-Dad. With an audience nearly entirely of younger women (with two reviewers and the lighting operator the only blokes), it is clearly for them even funnier and more recognisable, especially the pregnancy test business.

The set is a single large living room, with well-loaded clothes lines backstage, a few chairs and a couch spread around, and washing-baskets full of kids’ clothes or plastic toys and blocks. There’s a sort of boxed-in tea-trolley that gets wheeled in to centre stage when needed – for holding invisible birthday-party food, this-free or that-free, on the shelves, and a much-needed bottle of wine for the Mums on top). Tyler White’s lighting design works effectively and while I couldn’t name the songs played by Ewen Mason over the sound system, they are obviously appropriate.

It’s funny and touching and convincingly accurate and all four performers – Louise O’Flaherty, Peri Chapelle, Nicola Reid and Karla Crofts – do really well, individually and together.  


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