07/08/2019 - 08/08/2019
Broughton’s play stands the test of time
One of the less well-known plays of Ōtepoti playwright John Broughton (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngai Tahu) is being brought to the Dunedin by Waitī Productions in August.
Ngā Puke (The Hills) tells the love story of Waru and Angie:
Waru, a young Māori farmer, and Angie, a budding Pākehā artist, accidentally meet on the lush hillside of Ngā Puke in Hawke’s Bay. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, they have an immediate connection and a beautiful friendship develops.
As war breaks out, Waru joins the Māori battalion and Angie becomes a nurse. When their paths cross again on Crete, much has changed. Will the two make it through the horrors of war and back to the beautiful pastures of Pōrangahau?
Director and Producer Cian Elyse White (Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tūhoe) is delighted to have the opportunity to bring the play South, after well-received seasons in Auckland and Tauranga. “I create work based on kaupapa – or core values. What I love about this play is that at its heart it is truly a play about love and appreciation of home, land and people” White says.
The differences between Waru and Angie, and the conversations they have about being Māori and Pākeha, are what connects us to the play today, even 30 years after it was written, White adds. “I needed people to see Ngā Puke. I need us to look at our current racism issues in modern day New Zealand and talk about how they haven’t shifted. I needed people to start thinking about each other more. […] It’s about home, land and people and in the end, kindness plays a huge role.”
Ngā Puke, featuring Kimo Houltham and Simone Walker, plays at the New Athenaeum Theatre on August 7th and 8th. Schools matinees also play each day.
“Toitū te whenua, Whatungarongaro he tāngata.”
The land remains when the people pass on.
New Athenaeum Theatre, 23 The Octagon, Dunedin
7th & 8th August 2019
Waru: Kimo Houltham
Angie: Simone Walker
Design: Aydriannah Kataraina Tuiali’I
A gleaming pathway through the lives of ancestors as people and lovers
Review by Kate Timms-Dean 08th Aug 2019
Toitū te whenua, whatungarongaro ngā tāngata. The land remains, but the people pass on.
The whakataukī (proverb) forms the basis of this story of friendship turned to love, and peace turned to war turned to peace again.
Angie (Simone Walker) is a young Pākehā artist travelling in the Hawkes Bay from Dunedin to escape the withering glare of a disappointed father. Waru (Kimo Houltham) is a young Māori farmer, proud of his identity and the warmth of his connections to the whenua (land). Ngā Puke (the Hills) is his home, a position marked down through the generations. And when Angie arrives and disrupts his quiet country life, a spark of friendship blooms between them.
The relationship is so real – Walker and Houltham live and breathe it. The feelings are palpable. And laughter – there is a lot of laughter. This is genuine and wholesome; you can feel the authenticity of the family memories Broughton has selected to share with the audience.
But the transience of life and the permanence of death are ever-present symbols hovering at the edges of our eyes. This is New Zealand in 1940 on the verge of war and, like many others, Waru is determined to do his part on the battlefield. Angie, too, is drawn down the path to war by his determination, joining the nursing corps.
A chance meeting in the peace of Ngā Puke is followed by another, this time in a field hospital in Crete. War leaves their love with nowhere to hide. What is the point of hiding when death is all around? The die is cast, these two are entwined, no matter how far apart war may take them.
This is a story of whakapapa and remembrance, or love and death and war, but also a story of friendships growing in the darkest of places. Broughton’s story, Cian Elyse White’s production and direction, and Walker and Houltham’s brilliant delivery all come together to create a gleaming pathway that wanders through these lives, ensuring that they are remembered, as people, as lovers and as ancestors.
Toitū te whenua, whatungarongaro te tāngata.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer