TE TUPUA – The Goblin

BATS Theatre-hosted online, Wellington

20/10/2021 - 22/10/2021

The Octagon Theatre, 13 Aubrey Street, Whangarei

15/10/2022 - 15/10/2022

Regent Theatre Clarkson Studio, Dunedin

18/05/2024 - 18/05/2024

TAHI Festival 2021

Whangārei Fringe 2022

Production Details

Ka whakahokia a Tupua he kōrero ia
Whakarongo ki te tangi ra kua pahemo.

Te Tupua will speak,
Listen to this cry from the past.

Due to Auckland Level 3 restrictions John Davies is no longer able to TAHI Festival in person. To replace this live performance of Te Tupua – The Goblin – a digital version will be available for 48 hours from 8.30pm, Wed 20 October and tickets are now pay-what-you-can from $5-$25.  All current ticket holders will be notified of the changes and sent the link.

A Scottish lad of 10 is driven into slavery aboard his Majesties ships, circa 1800. After 15 years at sea he is cast onto the shoreline of Aotearoa and the fight for survival begins.

Te Tupua – The Goblin is a story of early contact and the act of expiation leading the audience to reflect on our bi-cultural origins where the performer, John Davies, operates as a cultural memory-worker; a cross between a shaman, an historian and a storyteller.

Te Tupua remains a marginalised phenomenon, despised yet seeking atonement.

Haere mai Te Tupua – a storytelling history play suitable for ages 10 and up.

BATS Theatre hosted, digital online
20 (– 22) October 2021
available from 8:30pm 20 Oct for 48 hours
“Pay What You Can” $5
The Difference $40
“Pay It Forward” $25
“Pay What You Can” $20
“Pay What You Can” $15
“Pay What You Can” $10

See more this TAHI FESTIVAL with a TAHI TASTER Season Pass!
Get THREE TICKETS for any three TAHI shows:
$45 Full Price (saving up to $21) / $36 Concession (saving up to $10)

19-23 October
A celebration of solo performance, TAHI is a five-day Festival at BATS Theatre dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo theatre from all around Aotearoa.
@tahifestivalnz| #TAHI2021


15 October, 8 pm

Regent Theatre, Clarkson Studio, Dunedin, 18 May 2024, presented by Arts on Tour.

Creative Team
Written & Performed by John Davies
Performance Advisers: Teiaro Taikato, Ariana Williams & Alexandra Witham
Design: Moko Smith

Webcast , Theatre , Solo , Digital presentation ,

1hr 30mins


Review by Matt Keene 16th Oct 2022

Te Tupua – The Goblin is a tale of early colonial interaction between Māori and a Scots sailor transplanted to early colonial Aotearoa. Davies, a self-described intercultural performer, opens with his mihi which settles the space and lays the foundation for the 90 minutes of intense and fast paced storytelling that follows.

The play itself begins with Davies encountering a taonga that opens a portal for his tupuna, the rogue Scots sailor Graham, to appear. We encounter a multitude of characters – I counted at least a dozen – that Davies swiftly and effortlessly switches between, infusing them with meticulous movements and accents, enabling each to be clearly visualised.

Davies inhabits Māori, Pākehā, Scots, male, female, warrior and wahine, of different ages, each responding to Graham and the extraordinary events of his life. Davies drawls bawdy sailor shanties, sings old country folk songs, wails plaintive waiata and performs stirring haka. It is a remarkable performance in terms of its scope, its physicality and technical accomplishment.

The story drifted a little for me in the final third when Graham leaves Aotearoa, but on reflection I think this is more because the scenes of his initial encounters with Māori and his subsequent integration into Te Ao Māori are so engaging. The finale is eerie and mesmerising, a mix of cultures that have combined to create and define The Goblin.



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A bracing dive into our collective history and imagination

Review by John Anderson 21st Oct 2021

BATS would be the perfect venue to see Te Tupua – The Goblin. As part of the continual upheaval of COVID, the season has been moved to digital. So I am here now drawing the curtains and settling into the darkness of my lounge. The experience that unfolds is immersive and thought-provoking.

TAHI is the annual New Zealand Festival of Solo Performance curated in Wellington. Te Tupua – The Goblin was written and is performed by John Davies who has worked in New Zealand theatre for over 50 years as a writer, actor, and director. The work’s inception was in 2000 as part of his MA. It has been performed and worked on and now appears as part of this long-running festival highlighting the best of New Zealand solo theatre.

John Davies dives into New Zealand history and his imagination to conjure up a distant ancestor, James Graham. The physical theatre required to transcend both the stage and my computer screen is undeniably powerful, as the grizzled old sailor Graham recounts his journey into Aotearoa and beyond with growing confidence.  

John Davies has been aided in creating this bilingual work by his mentor Hāre Williams and translator Piri Rewa. The use of tāonga pūoro, waiata and folk songs contribute strongly to the story. The filming and editing by Pablo Araus provides subtle touches that help move the story from the stage to my screen. Overall, the team that has worked to bring this play to us have done a fine job and I am on the edge of my seat as Te Tupua works its magic. 

There are many stories which will be told, looked from new angles and examined again as we explore our collective past in Aotearoa. For myself as a Pākehā, Te Tupua – The Goblin, is a bracing dive into our collective history and imagination which challenges me.

I’ve already encouraged friends and family to buy a ticket from BATS online. I encourage you to do the same. It won’t be up for long.


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