Wellington Museum (formerly Wellington Museum of City and Sea), Wellington

11/02/2017 - 11/02/2017

Centre City Plaza, 51 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt

04/03/2017 - 04/03/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

An Eel of a Tale at Wellington Museum 

Puppeteer Anna Bailey will be presenting her newest show “Nan and Tuna” for two shows only on Saturday the 11th of February at the Wellington Museum. 

Anna discovered puppetry in 2008 while working as an au pair for a family of puppeteers in Italy. Since then she has created many shows and she is a regular busker at the Harbourside market and on Cuba Street with Enid, her popular portrait painting puppet. With this puppet and a number of other shows she has travelled the world and performed in 13 different countries.  It was while performing at a puppet festival in Turkey that she saw a puppet show of the “The little Mermaid” performed in a fishtank and the idea for this show began to develop.

Anna has long been fascinated with tuna (NZ native eels).  As a child, she used to watch them in her local creek and feed them at Nga Manu bird sanctuary.  One day after seeing some older boys eeling she and a friend took a whitebait net and a machete and tried to catch one, thankfully unsuccessfully and with no injury to themselves.

Later, when she learnt more about tuna and their incredible journey she wanted to create a puppet show about eels.  In 2016 she came together with the Porirua Harbour Trust and the Philipp Family Foundation, who also wanted to raise awareness about the plight of the tuna.  With their support, “Nan and Tuna” was created.  “Hopefully” she says “stopping other little girls like me from tormenting eels and instead letting people know that they need our care and protection as much as the kiwi”. 

In researching tuna for this show she was continually amazed. The endemic female long finned eel can live up to 100 years in our streams before swimming hundreds of kilometres back to their breeding grounds. Young eels (elvers) are great climbers and can wriggle up 20 metres of rock/concrete.  Migrating adult eels sometimes knot themselves into “eel balls” and roll over dry stretches of ground. Longfin tuna, like great spotted kiwi and kereru, are listed as “chronically threatened and in gradual decline” but while kereru and kiwi are protected tuna continue to be caught commercially.

Anna says that, “I hope that audiences will not only come away with greater knowledge but will also fall in love with the tuna in the same way I have over the course of this project.”

Nan and Tuna
Saturday 11th February
11:30am and 2pm
Wellington Museum
Koha entry
Bookings online the Fringe website 

Centre City Plaza, 51 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt
Saturday 4th March 2017
Koha entry

Theatre , Puppetry , Family ,

30 mins

Simple, charming, creatively stimulating

Review by Tess Jamieson-Kahara 09th Mar 2017

There’s something refreshing and grounding about going down to a random pop up arts festival with the kids on a Saturday morning. That’s the vibe of the 50 or so people crammed into an empty shop on Queens Drive waiting to see a free Puppet show called Nan and Tuna. The puppeteer, Anna Bailey, isn’t back in the wings doing vocal warm ups or kissing her lucky coin superstitiously. She’s having a cup of tea watching us come in. 

There’s no lights down or signal to show us that the show’s starting, in fact we just get a ‘Kia ora everyone ‘and then some fascinating facts about the long finned eel, called tuna by Māori.

Nan, who’s been friends with Tuna for over 80 years, is tired. So when her longest (no pun intended) friend tells her he’s making the epic journey back to his mysterious birth place, it’s a no brainer to join him as a last hurrah. First her Grandson needs to get the run-down on how to look after the river for Tuna’s kids when they return.

The story is simple yet charming. It feels very inclusive to be able to watch Anna with the fiddly strings, the cast change-overs, the water polluting and the rolling of the 7 metre long painting to show the journey through the Ocean.

You can tell Anna is passionate about sharing her love for Puppets. She even gives us a detailed run down on how she made them all. The kids leave excited about what puppets and sets they can make and some new knowledge about the fascinating life of the Long Fin Tuna!

The show has legs and given the right funding and direction it could really grow into something unique, informative and entertaining. 


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