Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

06/05/2014 - 06/04/2014

TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

09/05/2014 - 09/05/2014

OPSA Theatre, Onewhero

01/05/2014 - 01/05/2014

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

09/09/2014 - 13/09/2014

Arts On Tour NZ 2014

Production Details

Wonderful musicianship, NZ stories
Wheel of Experience tour May – June 2014 

Three consummate performers and epic original songs – ‘Wheel of Experience’ brings the ‘wild west’ of New Zealand to exuberant life. 

Walking a fine line between history and legend, humour and heart, the songs move from gentle ballad to wailing sea shanty to bluegrass and blues, telling the stories of real people trying to carve a new life in a land at the bottom of the world. 

Hearty vocal harmonies combine with old time acoustic instruments – banjo, fiddle, mandolin, cigar-box slide, the Chinese zhongruan – in a show written and performed by David Ward (The Dentist’s Chair, Guru Of Chai, Kiss The Fish) Peter Daubé (Stories Told To Me By Girls) and Dave Khan (The Bads, Tim Finn, Don McGlashan Band).  

“Neither musical nor theatrical experiences come any more astonishing than the Wheel of Experience. …You hear about good performers bringing songs to life, but in this case, the songs seem to give birth to the performers.” – Nick Bollinger, The Sampler 

“The wonderful musicianship, the quirky concept and the environment created made it feel as if I had stumbled into the past. …Highly recommended as an experience.” – Te Radar 

“Will steal you away and have you run the emotional gamut… these guys are putting their heart, soul and sweat into these tracks”  – Sean Elliot, Daily Album


Confession is based on the real and erudite confession of Dick Burgess and the murders for profit he and his gang committed against Otago gold diggers. As a young boy, having been arrested, shipped and flogged for misdemeanors, he vowed he’d “…take a life for every lash”. His last words at the gallows were: “I’ve got no more fear of death than going to a wedding.”

We Did Seal
We Did Seal is based on the fate of a band of sealers, who in 1810 were left on a remote NZ island with their 10,000 skins and abandoned when their ship was wrecked, never to return. With an axe, an adze and a knife they set about cutting a path back to civilisation.

A Hundred Trees 
In 1900 workers and their families from all over the world arrived on the NZ volcanic plateau. It was winter, raining, 12 families to one tent. They were enticed here by the promise of employment on the Raurimu Spiral on the main trunk line. Gambling was rife, cocktails of whisky, meths and cough mixture helped to ease the hardship. In a world where people strive to get ahead, it tells a story of high stakes and betrayal.

Don Buck 
Don Buck pays tribute to the legend of larger than life Portuguese entrepreneur Francesco Rodriguez Figuera, described as the original ‘Westie’, who, with the blessing of the authorities, ruled an indentured criminal workforce and often debauched shantytown in West Auckland.  

This song is inspired by the settlers at Cornwallis, who after months at sea, arrived to find their promised utopian community didn’t exist. This is an epic painting of a couple’s need for survival in a new, harsh and ultimately unforgiving world. It tells a story of separation and sacrifice, of people risking everything just to exist. 

The Shadow 
In 1905, Lionel Terry walked 900 miles to promote his book The Shadow, a book containing his racially separatist beliefs. Gaining little traction from words alone, he gunned down Kum Yung, an old Chinese man in Haining St, Wellington. At the same time an old Chinese man walks the crippling journey day after day, just to pay off his poll tax. 


Thursday 1 May 7.30pm Onewhero 
OSPA Theatre, Hall Rd
Book:  River Traders Tuakau 09 236 8875

Friday 2 May 7.30pm Coromandel 
Coromandel Bowling Club
$25 Concessions $20
Book:  Coromandel Information Centre and door sales 

Saturday 3 May 7.30pm Thames 
Kauaeranga Hall 
Book: Phone/txt/email 07 868 9767/0210788675 

Sunday 4 May 7.30pm Paeroa 
Paeroa Little Theatre 
Book:  Arkwrights Antiques 

Tuesday 6 May 7.30pm Tauranga 
Baycourt X Space 
Book: Baycourt Box Office/www.ticketek.co.nz/0800 TICKETEK 

Wednesday 7 May 7pm Opotiki 
Senior Citizens’ Hall, King St
Book:  The Travel Shop, Church St, Opotiki 

Thursday 8 May 8pm Rotorua 
Netherlands Hall, Lynmore 
$15 pre-sale; $20 door sales 
Book:  Eventfinder; Musicworks Rotorua or the Rogue Stage (Facebook) 

Friday 9 May 6pm New Plymouth  
TSB Showplace 
Adults $25; Student $15(limited number available) Service fees apply 
Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.co.nz 0800 111 999
or TSB Showplace Box Office 

Saturday 10 May 7.30pm Wanganui 
Royal Wanganui Opera House 
$25 Adult; Senior $23; FOH $20; Student $15 
(Special rates for school groups) 
Book:  Opera house box office or www.royaloperahouse.co.nz 

Tuesday 13 May 7pm Reefton 
Working Mens’ Club 
$20 Adult; $10 student; Family $50 
Book:  03 732 8542  

Wednesday 14 May 7.30pm Hokitika 
Old Lodge Theatre 
Book:  Regent Theatre Hokitika 

Thursday 15 May 7.30pm Okarito 
Donovan’s Store $20
Book:  Debbie 03 753 4017 Edwina 03 753 4014 

Friday 16 May 7.30pm Tarras 
Tarras Hall 
$25 Adults; SuperGold $20; Student/child $5 
Book: Cromwell i-Site and Tarras Country Store 

Saturday 17 May 7.30pm Earnscleugh 
Earnscleugh Hall (between Alexandra and Clyde) 
Book:  Alexandra Information Centre 

Tuesday 20 May 7.30pm Stewart Island 
Community Centre
$20; Children $5 
Door sales 
(A Southland Festival of the Arts Presentation) 

Wednesday 21 May 7.30pm Riverton 
Community Arts Centre 
$25; $20; $5 
Book:  Riverton Community Arts Centre
(A Southland Festival of the Arts Presentation) 

Thursday 22 May 7.30pm Invercargill 
Hansen Hall, SIT Campus 
Book:  Ticketdirect or Cue TV 
(A Southland Festival of the Arts Presentation in association with SIT)

Friday 23 May 7pm Owaka 
Memorial Community Centre 
$25; Gold card $23; Students $15 
Book:  Mary Sutherland; mary@catlins-ecotours.co.nz 03 415 8613 

Saturday 24 May 7.30pm Oamaru 
ODT Inkbox, Oamaru Opera House 
$25; Seniors $20 
Book:  Oamaru Opera House/Oamaru i-Site; www.ticketdirect.co.nz 0800 4 TICKET 

Sunday 25 May 7.30pm Twizel  
Events Centre 
$20 Adults; $10 Students 
Book:  Information Centre/Mackenzie Lotto Plus 

Monday 26 May 8pm Amberley 
Balcairn Public Hall 
$25 including supper (NO BYO) 
Book:  Sally Mac’s, Amberley; Stan’s 7 day Pharmacy, Rangiora 

Tuesday 27 May 7pm Akaroa 
Madeira Hotel
$20 Book Akaroa Cinema

Thursday 29 May 8.30pm Onekaka 
The Mussel Inn
$10 Door sales

Saturday 7 June 7.30pm Waimamaku 
Morrell’s café 
$15 door sales only 

Sunday 8 June 3pm Taipa 
Reia Taipa Beach Resort 
$20 Adult; $5 secondary student; $2 primary student 
Book:  “Finders” Kaitaia; Doubtless Bay Information Centre Mangonui 

About Arts On Tour New Zealand 

AOTNZ organises tours of outstanding New Zealand performers to rural and smaller centres in New Zealand. The trust receives funding from Creative New Zealand and liaises with local arts councils, repertory theatres and community groups to bring the best of musical and other talent to country districts. Thanks also to Interislander for support. The AOTNZ programme is environmentally sustainable – artists travel to audiences so that that small town and country dwellers can enjoy high quality entertainment in their home patch. www.aotnz.co.nz

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Q Loft
Tues 9 – Sat 13 September 2014

A national theatrical treasure

Review by Tamati Patuwai 11th Sep 2014

Wheel of Experience is a refreshingly courageous blast of music, theatricality and a good ol’ yarn. 

Playing Loft at Q Theatre, this swift and piercing jaunt down some of New Zealand’s darker historical corridors is a rigorous experience and should be seen.

Peter Daube, as the natural yet understated the narrator, presents a series of outrageous exploits from some of New Zealand’s important though least remembered legends. The play, if it is to be called this, conjures forth the likes of Dick Burgess of the Maungatapu Murders and the vehement politico Lionel Terry and many more.

It is the play’s musical stature that is most captivating and magical. These eerie tributes are simply entwined within a chain of time-warping ballads, and almost séance-inducing bluesy tunes. 

The bluegrass stank-cum-ragtime jolts envelop and nuance the heritage with hypnotic flair. The strings really come to life as banjos, fiddles, mandolins, a zhongruan and more are revealed and strummed with downright soul.

‘Multi-instrumentalism’ is not adequate to describe the kinds of melodic flair and performance sensitivities these guys – Dave Ward, Dave Kahn and Daube – reach.

Yet as the players indulge us in the romance of a bygone era, each song, each story and each character – no matter how fraught with indignity or abhorrence – is lifted up with Mana, revealing a much-appreciated New Zealand honour. To reflect on the past, warts and all, and then to share it in an authentically insightful manner, reinforces the visible aim of the piece.

The palpably rustic set design enhances the period and performance flavours with realism and metaphor. Jessika Verryt & Anita Barry have hit the right notes with the shack and its colonial southern clutter. Even as Daube occasionally trips and fumbles through the various props and assemblages you get a real sense of the basic realities of these places and people. 

So it is absolutely on point that Dave Ward, Dave Kahn and Peter Daube have composed a musical taonga that should not only be enjoyed but also seriously discussed and listened to. From small beginnings to its season in Q Theatre, I assert that Wheel of Experience, understated as it might be, is a national theatrical treasure.


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Full of longing, despair, confusion and triumph

Review by Vivienne Quinn 07th May 2014

Happy am I to have finished reading The Luminaries last week, as it has prepared me well for this wonderful, intimate, articulately-musical show.  Both are rich in the dark atmosphere of the New Zealand gold-rush times: 1860s, damp, acrid, difficult, judgemental, yet quintessentially about human hopes and dreams. 

Wheel of Experience – written by the performers, Peter Daube, David Ward and Dave Khan – is a show thick with the scent of human struggle in harsh times, made alive for us through excellent music and the poetic storytelling of NZ’s many gold-rush characters. Set against a back-drop of a settlers’ hut, with tin cans and horse-heads mounted on the wall, we seem to have popped in for a dram of whiskey and to hear a tale or two.

Peter Daube’s chatty interpolations describe to us the people and situations they are singing about. Chinese, Portuguese, Sealers, Con-artists, Murderers … the stories of all of these historical figures are captured with great beauty and skill, with lines that will haunt me for days. 

“Hope is the ocean that carried us here” and “I pray that you will listen the ghosts of golden mountain” are a few that stand out for me amongst songs full of longing, despair, confusion and triumph. It’s not all heavy though, at all. 

The Tauranga audience can be a difficult one to please, and the X-Space capacity of 160 is not quite full. Yet you can hear a collective sigh after each piece finishes and most all present give them a standing ovation at the end. This is a polished performance by talented musicians and it is not to be missed.


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Raw and rich stories and music

Review by Penny Dodd 02nd May 2014

Onewhero. Drive to the end of the Auckland motorway, head West. 150km round trip to this small Waikato farming town. It’s pretty cold in the Onewhero Society of Performing Arts auditorium and you can hear, loud and clear, the rugby practice on the field next door punctuated by the odd boy racer. Wheel of Experience: quite.   

Onstage there appears to be the interior of a very small Musterer’s hut, crammed with various guitars, banjos and mandolins, mic stands, shaded lamps, odd bits and pieces, a horse’s head, a large wheel with symbols on it, a trombone and three mustard-coloured vinyl chairs. You get more room per person in an orchestra pit.

The audience is lively, local and loud. The boys, in settler garb, appear onstage and are so vocally greeted by the audience, they are unable to open their own show. This is going to be interesting. Long notes from the violin, a declamatory solo opening from Peter Daube, a bit shaky, a bit unsure. He comes across diffident but a man on a mission.

That’s a real Kiwi way of doing things. Raw, honest. The music gets going and we find we’ve just hurtled down the Raurimu spiral, courtesy of brilliant and inventive textures from violin, guitars and banjos, and full throated, full on singing. Three guys on mustard chairs: “What you see is what you get.” 

What you get is a taste for more. The (true) stories that feed these narratives are rich and strange. Female confidence tricksters, murderous sociopaths, exploited Chinese, duped settlers, the dark underbelly of colonial pioneer life in New Zealand. 

The musical settings lean in to the past but are wholly original. Interestingly structured, sometimes sung, sometimes accompanied monologue, sometimes programmatic, other times finding the groove. Little touches of colour, tastefully applied, don’t go unnoticed, from the thumb piano, Chinese percussion, slide guitars, bowed banjo (what?) to the extrovert jug band style trombone – not just a hat stand!

Structurally, the show is a bunch of songs connected by ad lib intros. Three guys in a heavily constrained set, deceptively low key, casual. The intros, sometimes hesitant, faltering, draw you in, relax the formality, leave it up to the songs to pack the punch. Daube seems to be the only one talking, until the end when David Ward manages a very fine intro to ‘Confession’.

Daube has all the lead vocals as well, displaying huge range from the dramatic to the expressive. He’s particularly good in the monologues, where his raw delivery and actor’s energy drive the narrative. His physical constraint onstage – either standing or sitting in one spot – is a curious choice. His energy could well take him into a much larger physical performance.   

David Ward and Dave Kahn provide the musical backings, plus backing vocals. Their musicianship is the bedrock of the piece, with driving rhythms and soulful melodies. This music is really clever, with function driving form the whole way, so that each song has its own identity, its own musical character.

Standout songs for me are ‘Golden Mountain’, the story of the Chinese settlers in NZ, and ‘We Did Seal’, a chilling tale of abandoned sealers. The truth of the predicament is grim, the inevitable outcome honoured in song. But this is storytelling:  “History is never written by those who died… except this one”. 

Our enthusiastic Onewhero audience happily joins in the horse race number, cheering mightily for our horses, convinced Phar Lap is going to clean up. Again, not quite the expected outcome.

This show takes early New Zealand settlement, turns over the stones and checks out the rich mine of dirt underneath. “Everyone needs a bad man to wash their conscience clear” as a statement of justification by the psychopathic marauding killer Dick Burgess in the superb closing song ‘Confession’ stays with me all the way home – a wintry, windy, suddenly scary, dark country road at night.


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