Southwards Theatre, Otaihanga, Paraparaumu

21/08/2012 - 21/08/2012

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

27/08/2012 - 27/08/2012

Production Details

An actor and broadcaster, Dame Kate shares a journey through time with stories of her ancestors, her family and her life. 

Display of Dame Kate’s family history and career highlights at both venues.

Tuesday 21 August
Southwards Theatre, Otaihanga, Paraparaumu
4pm & 7.30pm
Cafeteria open before and after each performance

Monday 27 August  
Circa Theatre, Wellington
Cash bar open before and after the performance

$15.00 from selected outlets:
Fibre Flair, Main Road, Waikanae
Unichem, Kapiti Lights, Paraparaumu
Furnishing Affair, Raumati Beach
Moby Dickens’ Books, Paraparaumu Beach
Life Pharmacy, Queensgate, Lower Hutt
Circa Theatre, Wellington

and through
the Kapiti Genealogy website:  


Enjoyably pleasant diversion

Review by Yolande Brophy 22nd Aug 2012

Genealogy, whakapapa, lineage: a minefield of information that causes stirrings of excitement or a sense of dread depending on your individual standpoint. Some are drawn in wholeheartedly, bearing the role of Family Chronicler with passion while others listen dutifully and try to remember the myriad names and connections for the next time they are bombarded with information from their past. The anticipation of hearing the stories of Dame Kate Harcourt’s Fulton ancestors inspired a little of both. 

Upon arrival, the theatre-like programme purchased at the door got the juices of expectation flowing. Would we hear secrets that past generations had hoped would be buried with them? In contrast, the family tree placed on the seats roused great trepidation. Quickly scanning the page, trying to get a head start so that I would know where in the line of descent an anecdote was placed, drew the kind of anxiety that comes from the belief that at the end of the evening an exam will follow. 

Thankfully in his introduction Clive Palmer invites the audience to join him, Dame Kate, and researcher Sue Greene as if we are sitting around the kitchen table having a good old-fashioned natter. “The kind you have over a cuppa, or a scotch if the going gets rough.” All apprehension evaporates as the realisation comes that this is not a one-woman show meticulously rehearsed in theatrical terms.

Kapiti Genealogy’s ‘Why You Are You’ presentation is a production in the sense it has a title, a programme and an accomplished professional as the drawcard. However, the ‘performance’ is more like a facilitated meeting or a play reading/workshop in its execution.

It is refreshingly casual; an amalgamation of areas of expertise. While Palmer excuses the use of scripts proclaiming his and Greene’s amateur performance status, Dame Kate acclaims Greene’s research skills and humbly acknowledges the work these two have put in on her behalf. There are plenty of interesting anecdotes complemented with a photo presentation and interspersed with where and how information was uncovered. 

For Pakeha New Zealanders, Dame Kate’s ancestry is a familiar enough story of emigration from the UK as the lower classes were swept off land amidst the agricultural revolution of the early 1800s by English and Scots landowners. Many came to New Zealand as ‘Ag Labs’ (agricultural labours) and with hard work became farm owners or managers, something that would not have been possible in the strict class system of the home countries. And, as we love to remind our neighbours, Australian settlers were generally sent out as convicts.  

Two tales stood out for me. The convict ancestor, Uncle James of Somerset who, with his cousin, brilliantly contrived to be convicted and repatriated to Australia, consequently helped to build Hobart and, after serving 4 years of his 7 year sentence, became a very successful businessman. It’s possible he sent funds back home for the education of nephews and nieces, this inference being based on his illiteracy and the next generations’ ability to read and write. The other is almost the secret I had hoped for at the beginning, involving Great Grandfather Thomas and the introduction of rabbits.

As fiercely proud of her Scottish heritage as she is of Uncle James, Dame Kate hails from two large clans with another family thrown in for good measure, belying her very refined accent. There is a spot of English on her mother’s side, whose road to New Zealand is via Australia.

Markedly ,both sides had recurrent names, Catherine – Dame Kate’s given name and the name of two of her Great Grandmothers – and the surname Cameron. Thanks to Sue Greene’s detective work it has been established that both maternal and paternal Cameron ancestors originated from the same clan.

Another mysterious commonality is the removal of familial history to make way for motorways: the family home in Kaiwharawhara, a burial plot in Bolton St cemetery and, on her mothers side, an uncle’s grave in Madeira. Given the misguided plans to build an expressway through Kapiti underway at present I hope there are no ancestral landmarks in the area.

In this enjoyably pleasant diversion Kapiti Genealogy captured their target audience at Southwards Theatre and I believe next Monday evening’s show at Circa Theatre will bring out Dame Kate’s audience.  

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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