Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

10/07/2021 - 25/07/2021

Production Details

At Circa Theatre July School Holidays

From the producers of Black Dog, Duck, Death and Tulip, Rainbows and Fishes and many more much-loved children’s theatre productions. New Zealand’s internationally acclaimed Little Dog Barking Theatre returns to Circa Theatre with its new work The White Tree.

The White Tree is the last complete work devised by Peter Wilson the founding Director of Little Dog Barking Theatre. Peter died in March this year but had always hoped that the talented director Jacqui Coates would join him one day in realising this show on stage.

It is with immense pride, therefore, that Little Dog Barking Theatre brings this work to life under the inspired direction of Jacqui Coates, and the talented team that has gathered together for this premiere season at Circa.

……The White Tree has been there as long as anyone can remember. It is a place where creatures make their homes, the birds in nests hidden amongst the leaves, or in the hollows where the roots dive deep into the earth.  It is a place where children come to play and climb amidst its branches.

It is in this place that the White Tree remembers the story of the precious huia, the little yellow-eyed Hoiho and the lumbering great green Kakapo.  It remembers times of flood and times of fire. It holds memories of sadness; it shares stories of hope. 

But now the White Tree is in danger from the greatest threat of all. Who can help save the White Tree? 

Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
10-25 July 2021
Tues – Wed 10am & 11.30am
Thurs – Sat 10am, 11.30am & 6pm
Sun 4.30pm
Tickets (under 2’s free):
All Tickets $15 – $50 Family Pass (4people)
BOOK: or Box Office Ph: 04 801 7992  

Performed by:  Kenny King, Laurel Mitchell, and Jeremy Hunt

Written by Peter Wilson
Director:  Jacqueline Coats
Composer:  Liam Reid
Lighting and AV Design:  Jason Longstaff
Set and Costume Design:  Tolis Papazoglou
Puppet Creation:  Sue Hill 

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

50 mins

An honest telling for children of the dangers facing our native birds and trees

Review by Deborah Rea and Luna Rama 11th Jul 2021

The White Tree is the last complete work devised by our late Peter Wilson, the founding Director of Little Dog Barking Theatre, and it serves as a profound haere ra.  

The White Tree introduces us to many friends including Huia, Kakapo and Hoiho, as well as some foe: rats, axes and wire fences – and the colonial English. The puppets are stunning works of art designed and created by Tolis Papazoglou and Sue Hill respectively.

The crowd favourites of the night are our gorgeous Hoiho trying their best to provide a safe environment for their new family (and maintain their relationship).

Composer Liam Reid and Lighting and AV Designer Jason Longstaff take us on The White Tree’s journey through time, through floods and fire, through joy and grief.

Jacqui Coates directs an honest telling for children of the dangers facing our native birds and trees. Little Dog Barking makes no apologies and holds no punches in naming the enemies – which include humanity, infrastructure and cats among others, including an axe with legs. There’s no happy ending for our feathered friends but there could be, especially if JJ and Millie can hold on to the love of nature that they have as children. 

7-10 year olds may initially rebel against the steady, quiet pace of the show but the skill of our puppeteers – Kenny King, Laurel Mitchell and Jeremy Hunt – soon lures them in and the kids settle in to quiet whispers of astonishment. It’s a testament to our puppeteers that my recently turned five-year-old buries herself in my arms whenever her beloved manu Māori face any danger.

Post-show she also refused to return to the car unless I puppet her past Te Papa using her fairy wand as a rod to animate her legs …

Peter Wilson begins the story of The White Tree with Huia traps in the 1800s and closes with chainsaws in the present day. Have we learnt nothing?

What has happened to all the JJs and Millies throughout time? Do they all grow up to tear down the taonga they cherished as children? 

Hutia te rito o te harakeke,
Kei whea te korimako e koo?

Thank you, Peter.

Luna Indali Rama (aged 5):

I liked the Huia because they were in love but I didn’t really like it when they went in the cage because I wanted them to stay free. When I’m a grown up I’m going to put all the fish back in the sea. Sometimes it was a little bit scary but I just closed my eyes and cuddled Mumma so it was ok.

I liked how JJ and Millie climbed the tree and did cool stuff like cartwheels and flipping and jumps and they tried to help all the birds and the white tree. 

Some things are bad for birds and trees like cats and rats and so we have to look after them.  

I liked all the puppets a lot and I want to know how the tree grew because it grew out of the floor like it was magical maybe I think. 

The show was really good and all other people should go see it. 


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