Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

15/08/2012 - 24/08/2012

Production Details

The Kila Kokonut Krew are celebrating 10 years of being the leaders of Pacific theatre in Aotearoa with the play that started it all, Taro King – a comedy / drama written by Vela Manusaute.

Taro King is set in a local supermarket in South Auckland, prized as being the supermarket with the highest turnover in taro sales. In 2002, the Fijian coup, led by George Speight, and the ban on all trading between Fiji and New Zealand had a major effect on the flow of taro coming into the port of Auckland. This sudden shortage of taro to the locals of Otara was harsh; however none felt the severity of the situation more so than the employees at Taro King supermarket, whose livelihood was unexpectedly put at risk. 

Filipo is a taro cutter and works out back in the docks with Raju. Their day-to-day routine of cutting taro and answering to the ‘Indian man at the top’ is getting to Filipo. He begins to question the means of his existence in his mundane life at the supermarket. He dreams of breaking through the glass ceiling – that one day he and his family will move away from South Auckland, away from the troubles that loom ahead. 

Where: Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku,
Corner Orly Avenue & Bader Drive, Mangere
15-24 August 2012 – 7.30pm
(opening nigh booked out)

All Ages

Ticket Information:
Adult: $20.00
Concession: $18.00
Child 12 yrs and under: $5.00
Grps 6+: $15.00
Matinee: $15.00
Booking fees may apply

Filipo        Aleni Tufuga
Raj            Alvin Maharaj
Sammy     Vela Manusaute
Lavinia     Stacey Leilua
Moana      Nora Aati 
Pua          Troy Tu’ua 
Ricky        Suli Moa Fanamoa 
Vegi         Albert Mateni 
Aiga         Anapela Polataivao 
Sofia         Katerina Fatupaito 
Ben           Andy Sani 
Sefo          Leki Bourke 
DJ             Glen Jackson  

Set Design by Sean Coyle

KKK still Kings

Review by Sharu Delilkan 21st Aug 2012

There was almost a carnival atmosphere when entering the Mangere Arts Centre, a setting befitting the Kila Kokonut Krew’s 10th year anniversary celebrations featuring the production that put the company on the map, Taro King.

Unfortunately I don’t have the benefit of being able to compare it with the first time it was staged. So all I can give is my reaction to what it was like seeing it with fresh eyes.

Just as when we saw Indian Ink Theatre Company’s first show Krishnan’s Dairy recently, after a decade, it was great to see where KKK started. And more importantly it was interesting to find out the impetus for playwright Vela Manusaute to write this iconic slice of Pacific Island life in Aotearoa. [More


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A tasty theatrical feast

Review by Johnny Givins 16th Aug 2012

Toro King celebrates 10 years of Kila Kokonut Krew theatre and music in South Auckland and what a feast they have prepared.

In 2002, at the Musgrove Studio (Auckland University), KKK launched their company with Taro King.  Now it returns home to the excellent Mangere Art Centre. 

It has changed from a family meal into a bigger, brighter, louder and more theatrical feast of very funny ensemble theatre with great music.  Lots of dishes are energetically thrown at the audience with a galaxy of styles. 

The heart of the story is still the vibrant journey of Filipo (Aleni Tufuga) trying to make ends meet, working in an Otara Supermarket’s taro section. He longs for promotion to make a better future for his wife, a quiet Sofia (Katherine Fatupaito) and his young son (a delightfully calm and loving Solomon Aleni Tufaga). 

But Filipo also longs for home. Aleni Tufaga is the Samoan soul of the play.  In English or Samoan he is honest, believable, funny, and embodies the legacy, responsibilities and obligations of Samoa culture.

The play moves, in the second half, to the house of Filipo’s mother, Aiga, (Anapela Polataivao). She keeps control of her home and Filipo’s 30 year old unemployed brother Ricky (Suli Moa) and his two mates – Sefo (Leki Bourke-Jackson) and Big B (Andy Sani).

This outstanding trio are wannabe Hip Hop gangsta stars.  They rap and spout Americana with synchronised actions like PI Marx Brothers.  The reason for the home event is farewell for the young brother Vegi (Albert Mateni) who is about to leave for boxing training in America.  Their ambition is for him to become world champion, make lots of money and look after the family. 

It is a wonderful ensemble production.  The songs and choreography are stylish, funny and filled with energy. The ensemble supermarket scenes are a highlight.

There are several outstanding dishes. Vela Manusaute, who wrote the original play, is Sammy the Supermarket boss.  Wearing a wild Fijian wig he is a super salesman, a selfish aggressive boss, a sympathetic friend and a con artist.  He is pulsing with high voltage energy, demanding and uncompromising in his manipulation of his staff: the delicious Otara duo, Lavinia (Stacey Meilua) and Moana (Nora Aati).

Anapela Polataivao’s Aiga is quick witted, with a certainty that “only me and God Knows”. She captures the Samoan mother love, humour, aggression and passionate materialism.  

Alvin Maharaj adds the special spice to this production.  He is a Fijian Indian immigrant.  He sings Indian songs, talks to a camera like a reality show, and breaks into Bollywood dances.  He provides an alternative Indian spirit to the show. 

Troy Tu’ua has two roles: a gentle kind and self effacing “manager of the shopping trolley” and, in the second act, an outrageous Fafafine son of the Minister.  He is arrogant one minute and dancing a bum shaking routine the next.  It is belly laugh territory. 

DJ JXN (Glen Jackson) provides the music for the multitude of numbers which burst into in the show like surreal povi masima (salted beef brisket) – tasty, well sung, great beats and a tangy finish.

There is lots of conversational Samoan in the script giving an improvisation quality to the story (especially in the scene about an overdue power bill – when the control room power went out on opening night. The audience loved it! )

The play is still set around the George Speight Coup in Fiji, which makes it feel a bit dated, especially when there are so many other Fijian stories with the same relevance. The story seems unfocused at times and the final scene after a climatic dance number seems more like a coda than the final dessert. 

Taro King is an amalgam of drama, comedy, music and dance developed over 10 years into a modern theatrical feast. Some dishes are embellishment, some are just good theatre.

Taro King has lots of great dishes. Go taste the difference. 


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