Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton

13/09/2013 - 13/09/2013

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

02/10/2013 - 05/10/2013

Old Library Art Centre, Whangarei

26/09/2013 - 26/09/2013

Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

15/10/2013 - 25/10/2013

Cashmere High School, Christchurch

19/09/2013 - 19/09/2013

St Margaret's College Chapel, Christchurch

17/09/2013 - 18/09/2013

Aranui High School, Christchurch

20/09/2013 - 20/09/2013

Suter Theatre, Nelson

11/10/2013 - 12/10/2013

Christchurch Arts Festival 2013

Christchurch Festival Schools' Programme 2013

Nelson Arts Festival 2013

Production Details

National Tour 2013 

From the bros of Bro’ Town and Naked Samoans Oscar Kightley and Dave Armstrong, Niu Sila is a comedy about a friendship that spans 40 years, two cultures and one street. In 1960s Ponsonby, six-year-old Ioane Tafioka – fresh off the boat – moves in next door to Peter Burton and their lives are changed forever.

The two performers, Fasitua Amosa and David Van Horn, create a world peopled with parents, brothers and sisters, teachers, policemen, a minister and the local Indian cricket team.

Auckland Theatre Company also staged co-writer Dave Armstrong’s award-winning adaptation of Sia Figiel’s Where We Once Belonged in 2008 and his acclaimed comedies The Tutor in 2007, Le Sud in 2010 and The Motor Camp in 2012.

Co-writer Oscar Kightley MNZM has brought his writing and performing talents to New Zealand theatre, television and the big screen. A 2006 Laureate Award winner and Qantas award-winning journalist, Oscar co-founded Pacific Underground and the Island Players theatre company which has produced critically acclaimed work. He is also one of the Naked Samoans, who’ve taken their anarchic brand of comedy around the country and overseas.

Niu Sila Director Ben Crowder is a co-founder and director of Auckland’s independent company Theatre Stampede. His productions are well known for their theatricality, bold physicality and visual flair. In 2009 Ben directed Sit on It for Auckland Theatre Company’s Young and Hungry Festival. His first ATC main bill production was Well Hung in 2010 and he co-directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2012.

The play sold out in Auckland Theatre Company’s 2005 season and won a Chapman Tripp Award for Best New New Zealand Play.

Niu Sila is a must-see heartfelt experience, filled with laughter and compassion.

Clarence St Theatre, Hamilton: 13 September
St Margaret’s College, Christchurch Festival Schools’ Programme: 17-18 September
Cashmere High School, Christchurch Festival Schools’ Programme: 19 September
Aranui High School, Christchurch: 20 September
The Town Hall, Dargaville: 23 September
The Turner Centre, Kerikeri: 24 September
The Old Library, Whangarei: 26 September
Te Ahu Centre, Kaitaia: 28 September
Q Theatre, Auckland: 2-5 October
Suter Theatre, Nelson Festival: 11-12 October
Mangere Arts Centre, Southside Festival: 15-25 October

Performers: Fasitua Amosa and David Van Horn

Scintillating and unforgettable

Review by Gail Tresidder 14th Oct 2013

This is brilliant.  An exceptional New Zealand story we can all relate to, acted and directed to the highest standards of excellence, and reminding us why live theatre, its immediacy and intimacy, must be cherished and protected. 

The set, a diagrammatic map of Niu Sila, our green grassy land set in a brilliant blue Pacific ocean, is most effective – credit to John Parker – and throughout the play the sound is amazingly slick, particularly in the cricket-playing scene.  One is left wondering how that precision is achieved – Thomas Press, Sound Designer and Touring Technical Operator, take a bow. 

The story-line takes us back to Auckland of the 70’s and the arrival of new immigrants from Samoa, the Tafioka family. They have a six-year-old son, Ione.  Next door live the palangi Burtons with their six year old son Peter.  The play explores the boys’ close friendship as they grow up, the two families differing ways of being, and eventually, as young adults, the serious split between Ione and Peter, as their lives take completely different directions, one ultimately tragic. 

Throughout, I watch and listen with a smile on my face.  The characters are brought to vibrant life by the talents of Fasitua Amosa and David van Horn: Mrs Burton, the politically correct mother; warm, physically affectionate Ione’s mother, Mrs Tafioka; racially prejudiced teacher Miss Heathcoat; the respective fathers; curtain-peeping neighbour; policeman; the coach at the Indian Sports Cricket Club, et al. 

There are wonderful laugh-inducing yet touching scenes throughout, especially those showing conflicts in living expectations.  Ione’s introduction to a symphony concert with the instructions not to applaud between movements – and his loud reproof to an old lady who has the temerity to clap at the end of the third movement – brings the house down.  It is delicious.

It is also touching.  As men, meeting up after years of estrangement, and remembering the past, both actors have real tears in their eyes.  Altogether this two-hander is a tour de force and unforgettable.

Since its premiere in 2004, Niu Sila has been regularly performed around the country and arrives in Nelson trailing awards.  However, this is the first time I have seen it and it makes such an impression, arouses so many emotions, that afterwards I can’t sleep, hearing Radio New Zealand’s All Night programme all night!

At a subsequent Arts Festival Event, those who were lucky enough to secure tickets were heard telling others about Niu Sila and what it had meant to be present at this superb night of theatre. The memory of this scintillating play shall last a long time.


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Tuai Sila 8½ years later

Review by Sharu Delilkan 04th Oct 2013

It was a great feeling arriving at Q’s Loft to review Niu Sila which I could still remember vividly, having been at The Maidment premiere more than 8½ years ago. 

The show then featured Dave Fane (Ioane Tafioka) and Damon Andrews (Peter Burton) under the direction of Conrad Newport. This time however there was a brand new cast at Q Loft – Fasitua Amosa and David Van Horn – under the direction of Ben Crowder.

For those who haven’t seen the show before, Niu Sila’s story spans three decades. [More]


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Countless characters and mirthful episodes

Review by Nik Smythe 03rd Oct 2013

This is the second production I’ve seen of this iconic piece, first written in 2005 by Oscar Kightly and Dave Armstrong.*  Their irreverent, hilarious, heart-warming and tragic script speaks to Peter and Ioane’s generation (i.e. mine), as well as entertainingly informing anyone less familiar with the politics and mind-sets of the time. 

The beautifully simple iconic set comprises three solid, sloped benches cut in striking angles to clearly represent the three main islands of our proud nation and covered with grass-green textured material.  With no accompanying programme, I regret being unable to commend the designer by name.

The story is told by Peter (David Van Horn) who at the age of five meets his best friend Iaone (Fasitua Amosa) when his family the Tafiokas moves into the neighbourhood.  Essentially a celebration of their friendship, in sharing the countless mirthful episodes spanning the decade or so that they spend growing up together, we get an insightful and only partly nostalgic overview of life growing up in the eighties or thereabouts. 

While laws and attitudes have improved in many ways, the inherent prejudices illustrated by many characters (and not only the Caucasians) in the play are unfortunately still shared by a number of people to this day. 

Ben Crowder’s experience in producing children’s theatre holds him in good stead for directing this work, centred as it is on the two excitable boys’ adventures.  Van Horn’s measured, radio-like narration contrasts with his array of characters, which in turn compliments Amosa’s appealing raw energy.  Their versatility is evident as each constantly switches between so many distinct and believable characters I’ve lost count. 

Principle roles, besides the two irascible lads, include Peter’s liberal (and atheist) parents, proud of their decision to raise their son in a working class area; Ioane’s extensive family, including little sister Sulu who gets a good deal of laughs considering she is only spoken to or about rather than personified (until she grows up); the Tafioka family church’s respected minister, whose demeanour and dress sense earn him the secret nickname ‘Criminal’.

Narrative-wise, although I’m laughing and crying with the rest of the Q Loft’s capacity opening night house, I find myself quite bemused by Ioane’s blunt rejection of his inseparable childhood friend, after all they’ve been through.  Having proven quite capable of deep respect and intelligent reasoning, why does he choose to denounce his closest ally as a patronising hypocrite, not to mention turn his back on his own potential?  However, I can ultimately accept this scenario, albeit in despair, only for having witnessed such frustrating obstinacy all too often in reality.

*See my 2008 review here


Ben Crowder October 5th, 2013

Hello - the set and costume designs were done by the lovely John Parker. The lighting design by the lovely Jane Hakaraia. The sound design and composition were achieved by the equally lovely Thomas Press. Thanks Ben

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