Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton

13/12/2018 - 13/12/2018

Pataka Art & Museum, Wellington

06/12/2018 - 06/12/2018

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

30/08/2017 - 09/09/2017

Production Details


Weaving physicality and text, The Night Mechanics is a vital new play from award winning writer and Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer-in-Residence Mīria George (Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Cook Islands), and the final piece in her Water Trilogy including the award winning play The Vultures (2016) and the performance installation Fire In The Water, Fire In The Sky (2017). 

The Night Mechanics is the story of a small drought stricken Māori community in the middle of Aotearoa that becomes the flash point of resistance against ‘the water company’ a multi-national that is more powerful than the government. 

Inspired by the modern fight for clean water, The Night Mechanics is a tale where water is no longer free and where dreams no longer exist. Is this is the future? 

‘Water is the final frontier for Māori, Pasifika and the world beyond.  With water bottling in Aotearoa New Zealand a current point of conversation and contention – we are only just beginning to debate the potential impact of this important resource, should it’s access be compromised or quality be damaged.  

The Night Mechanics is a work that is timely, visceral and potentially prophetic.’ – Mīria George, Playwright and Director  


For our premiere season, Mīria has gathered together five actors, all bringing to the stage a fierce connection to water from their own diverse cultures. These five actors are also all playwrights; award winning, successful and collaborative, they bring an added dynamic to recreate what it is that we call normal.

Tawata Productions is thrilled to collaborate again with Wellington Theatre Award winning playwright and actor, Carrie Green (Ngāti Porou). 

Born and raised in Wellington, Sarita So (Khmer Cambodia) and Natano Keni (Samoa), will be familiar to many, and recently launched their own production company, I Ken So Productions, with the play ‘Riverside Kings’, set in Timberlea, Upper Hutt. 

We also welcome Ahi Karunaharan (Sri Lankan Tamil) back from Auckland, where he helms Agaram Theatre Company, and is a rising star in the city’s landscape. 

Completing the cast is Malaysian based award winning stage and television star Dawn Cheong (Cuak & In between floors) who has flown in from Kuala Lumpur, returning to Wellington six years after graduating from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School. Dawn won Most Promising Actress at the Malaysian Film Festival 27, in 2017.

If you won’t let us dream, we won’t let you sleep. 

BATS Theatre, Heyday Dome
Preview Tues 29 August, 6.30pm
Weds 30 August – Sat 9 September,


Pataka Art + Museum
DATE Thursday DEC 06

Stokes Valley Community Hub
DATE Friday Dec 07

Māoriland Hub
DATE Saturday Dec 08

O-Tāwhao Marae
DATE Wednesday Dec 12
Presented in partnership with Two Wise Kūmara

Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts
DATE Thursday Dec 13

Kearoa Marae
DATE Friday Dec 14
Presented in partnership with Waitī Productions

Taharangi Marae
DATE Saturday Dec 15
Presented in partnership with Waitī Productions  

Performed by Carrie Green, Sarita So, Natano Keni, Ahi Karunaharan and Dawn Cheong

Designed by Tony de Goldi, Cara Louise Waretini, Karnan Saba and Natala Gwiazdzinski 

2018 Tour
Amanda Noblett:  Hine
Sarita So:  Zelda
Raai Badeeu:  Darren
Taungaroa Emile:  Father Teal

Mīria George:  Writer / Director
Karnan Saba:  Sound Design
Tony De Goldi:  Prop Design
Sopheak Seng:  Costume Design
Hone Kouka:  Producer, Tawata Productions

Theatre ,

Interesting moral dilemmas not deeply explored

Review by Ross MacLeod 14th Dec 2018

For better and for worse, The Night Mechanics falls into a category I’d loosely define as protest theatre. It’s unabashedly making a political statement with its message about water consumption and ownership always at the fore. 

While I can’t help but feel the show is crafted and performed exactly the way it wants to be, it simply doesn’t engage me strongly. I think the caveat here is that I look for narrative and characters and this type of expressionist work is something I have difficulty engaging with.

Because the message is being so boldly delivered, it feels like it subsumes the other aspects of the story. The dialogue is poetic, the author’s voice strongly coming through, but this means dialogue is often unnatural and oddly phrased. The characters are archetypes rather than relatable, and most of what we learn of the world comes from exposition. By falling halfway between realism and symbolism, the story feels jarring to me, changing gears too rapidly between the two.

The core premise is familiar yet crafted into an interesting world: a future where water is controlled in the big cities; an iwi trying to recover what they regret having sold away. There’s a lot referred to but we seldom get any depth to references and terms. Likewise the characters never get fleshed out and often seem to be talking past each other with Beckett-like obtuseness.

The protagonists, two sisters, are inconsistent in character; the antagonists are so cartoonishly and openly evil that they are impossible to connect with. Even the title, while referenced, feels like it has little to do with the events unfolding.

It’s a frustrating paradox that by having the message laid on so heavily in everything, the message itself feels less accessible. And there are interesting moral dilemmas that never get deeply explored. When resources are scarce do you help those in need? Do you move to the city or fight to keep your community going? There are so many interesting themes popping up in the play but none of them are explored in any depth.

Actors Amanda Noblett and Raai Badeeu are easily at their strongest when they’re cutting loose in passionate rhetoric but their eventual confrontation is stilted and odd, never reaching any real resolution.

The ideas are important, the passion is genuine and the world has potential but for me there simply is not enough story and character to draw me into the work. 


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Tackles thorny issue of water rights

Review by Ewen Coleman 31st Aug 2017

The issue of water and water rights has become a major topic in the run-up to the general election, and although Miria George’s new play The Night Mechanics, currently playing early evenings at Bats Theatre, isn’t a political play as such, there is much in it that is relevant to the current discussion on water ownership. 

While the fight for land has been a constant grievance for Maori, and still is, George has moved the debate to water in a very innovative and creatively constructed play that leaves its audience with much food for thought. [More


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A timely and crucial challenge

Review by John Smythe 31st Aug 2017

“No-one owns the water,” some politicians are fond of saying. Except when it’s bottled and sold overseas for profit. And of course responsibility is quickly disowned when our waterways become polluted. Then there are the effects of climate change on this vital resource, be it in the polar icecaps, oceans or weather patterns …  

Mīria George has tapped into this highly topical issue with a poetic play that resonates beyond this one essential resource-cum-commodity. Think back to the dodgy sales and compulsory acquisitions of Māori land; think forward to Monsanto et al’s reputed desire to own the intellectual property rights for all the seed stock that feeds us, modified to be non-regenerating so we have to keep buying new seeds from them even for what we plant in our own gardens.

In The Night Mechanics’ dystopian future, a multinational company has acquired exclusive ownership of the water, so that everyone has to buy what they use. The focus is on a small, landlocked and Māori community, represented by Hine (Carrie Green). Also resident is Zelda (Sarita So), a visitor from a distant island. Outside the marae is Hine’s brother, Manu (Ahi Karunaharan), banished for having given the Company exclusive rights to the hapu’s water.

The Water Company is personified by Darren (Dawn Cheong), a woman masquerading as a man in the minds of those she deals with remotely. She prides herself on being more powerful than the prime minister and is often seen riding high on the shoulders of Father Teal (Natano Keni), which may be seen as an echo of the British colonial government exploiting relationships established by missionaries and/or as reflecting how the church continues to enable global capitalism in the 21st century.

All five characters are present in their relative isolation as we arrive at the BATS Heyday Dome space. Cara Louise Warateni’s excellent costumes distinguish the rough-clad ‘have nots’ from the spick ’n’ span ‘haves’. A barely distinguishable radio voice is reduced to static (sound design by Karnan Saba), as a supine Hine intones a melancholy song into a megaphone. It’s Zelda who scolds her for wasting the batteries – and then for breaking their water-usage rules …

The intriguingly abstract nature of the staging and the poetic nature of much of the dialogue mean our initial task is to work out who is who, what is what, and why. Given this enquiry is what engages us for most of the hour, I’ll avoid specifics as to what is revealed and how. Suffice to say a land that was once awash with water is now drought-stricken and people-in-need who were once welcomed onto the marae (shades of Te Puea Marae in Mangere) are now shut out, with Manu, stranded in what’s called ‘car city’.

Carrie Green epitomises the reluctant leader, Hine: bathing in her memories of water while resisting the influx of ‘refugees’, against what used to be her compassionate nature … Can she resolve this impasse? If so, how? That we too wrestle from a ‘What would I do?’ perspective enhances our engagement.

Sarito So’s Zelda is also tough when she needs to be but vulnerable in her desire to return home – a plot thread that resolves (if that’s the word) in the paradox of rising oceans versus non drinkable water (cf: Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “Water, water, everywhere / Nor any drop to drink”).

As Manu, Ahi Karunaharan is suitably lost in the wake of his gross misjudgement (a mistake, many would argue, being made right now by local governments throughout the country). His sense of responsibility for the refugees leads him to urge Hine to act in a way that may either resolve or compound the problem … Manu, Hine and Zelda, then, are grounded in an observable reality with which we can empathise.

Conversely, as playwright and director, Mīria George chooses not humanise the Water Company in a way that compels us to recognise and confront our own value systems. Dawn Cheong’s Darren is highly stylised with jerky movements that could be interpreted as stress-related anxiety, a robot in need of rebooting or a metaphor for the dispassionate and inexorable mechanism of the global corporate machine. That it continues distractingly in the background as we try to decode what’s happening upfront is presumably the point. Nevertheless her powerful ‘high impact’ moments are compelling.

It may also be the point that Natano Keni’s Father Teal is stuck between the two performance styles, although his allegiance to the Company seems to go unchallenged. I remain unclear as to whether he has, or had, a relationship with the local community or whether he floats aloft in the rarefied hierarchy of ecclesiastical privilege.  

A storm is mentioned a couple of times – “It sits so heavy in the air” – but it’s not a drought breaker, an electrical storm or a wind and dust storm so I’m puzzled by it. Maybe I’ve missed the point and it’s simply a metaphor for the looming threat, or promise, of revolution. (This week’s audience can be forgiven for being especially attuned to the extreme weather storms that have devastated Bangladesh, India and Texas USA: another paradox wherein the resource that is fundamental to sustaining life can also be lethal.)

It is apt that the playdoes not solve or resolve the central problem because we are right in the middle of it; we are all part of the problem and we must also be part of the solution.  

What we are confronted, challenged and left with, then, is the concept of kaitiakitanga and our responsibilities as individuals and communities in acknowledging that role and acting upon it. As such The Night Mechanics (I have yet to decode the title: suggestions welcome) is timely and crucial, not least because it premieres during an election campaign where such issues are battling to gain traction. 


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