The last New Zealand war took place in 1979. It lasted three minutes.
Auckland Theatre Company’s (ATC) production of The Haka Party Incident, described as an “innovative, brilliant piece of theatre that all New Zealanders need to see” will tour to venues and festivals across the motu in October and November. Winner of Playmarket’s Best Play by a Māori Playwright and the inaugural Dean Parker Adaptation for Non-Fiction Award earlier this year, judges said the play was “powerful political theatre which rips the Band Aid off racism in Aotearoa.”
The Haka Party Incident, written and directed by renowned film-maker and theatre director Katie Wolfe (Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga), will return to Tāmaki Makaurau by unprecedented popular demand, following its sold out premiere season earlier this year. The play will then head down the country, stopping at five major arts festivals – Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, Taranaki Arts Festival, Tauranga Arts Festival, Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival and Nelson Arts Festival.
The Haka Party Incident retells the events of May 1st 1979 when activist group He Taua visited a group of University of Auckland engineering students as they rehearsed an annual mock haka that was a long-held tradition of the department. A confrontation erupted and the university “Haka Party” was never performed again. The incident resulted in a reset of race relations in New Zealand.
The work is a ground-breaking piece of verbatim theatre – documentary theatre in which the script is a verbatim restoration of exactly what was said by those involved in 1979 – based on dozens of interviews with people involved. The Haka Party Incident innovatively combines documentary and kapa haka to thrilling effect. Reviews from the premiere ATC season called it “a gift that every New Zealander deserves to enjoy”, “a gutsy new play”, and that it is “an understatement to say [the play’s] message – one ultimately of cultural respect and acknowledging the past – is timely.”
Katie Wolfe says, “It took four years of research and interviews to bring the production together. I wanted all those who were interviewed to have their truth celebrated not only to educate but to entertain. That has been confirmed by the heartfelt enjoyment and emotion from the audiences.”
Featuring the same cast of outstanding New Zealand talent as the premiere Auckland season, The Haka Party Incident stars Roimata Fox (Waru, Witi’s Wāhine, Othello), Richard Te Are (In Dark Places, The Luminaries, The Antigone Sound), Aidan O’Malley (Bystander, Good Idea at the Time, Beat(h)oven), Neenah Dekkers-Reihana (Waru, Anahera, Wellington Paranormal), Patrick Tafa (48 Nights on Hope Street, Westside, Half of the Sky), Lauren Gibson (Be Longing, Lesbos, Anne Boleyn), and Jarred Blakiston (Vernon God Little, Ablaze, The Gulf).
Katie Wolfe (The Mooncake and The Kumara, Waru, He Māngai Wāhine, Artefact) is joined by an accomplished creative team, including long-time collaborator; set designer John Verryt (Rendered, The Mooncake and the Kumara, Jesus Christ Superstar), costume designer Alison Reid (48 Nights on Hope Street, 8 Reasonable Demands, Dance Like Everybody’s Watching), lighting designer Jo Kilgour (Six Degrees of Separation, Under the Mountain, Filthy Business), multi-instrumentalist, composer and sound designer Kingsley Spargo, and Nīkau Balme, Katie’s 15-year-old son, who choregraphed and composed the eight haka performed in the play.
The Haka Party Incident, presented by Auckland Theatre Company, opens in Tāmaki Makaurau on 2 October and tours nationwide, in partnership with Tour-Makers, until 4 November. Dates, times, venues and ticketing information are below.
Tāmaki Makaurau (return Auckland season)
Saturday 2 to Sunday 10 October | Venue: ASB Waterfront Theatre | Tickets and info: www.atc.co.nz / 0800 282 849
Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa (Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival)
Friday 15 October | Venue: Gisborne War Memorial Theatre | Tickets: On sale 6pm Thurs, 22 July via www.tetairawhitiartsfestival.nz
Heretaunga (Hawke’s Bay Art Festival)
Monday 18 October | Venue: Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre, Opera House | Tickets: On sale 9am Friday, 6 August via www.hbaf.co.nz
Whakatū (Nelson Arts Festival)
Friday 22 and Saturday 23 October | Venue: Theatre Royal | Tickets On sale 10am Friday, 6 August via www.nelsonartsfestival.nz
Tauranga Moana (Tauranga Arts Festival)
Friday 29 October | Venue: Addison Theatre, Baycourt Community and Arts Centre | Tickets: On sale 1pm Monday, 12 July via www.taurangafestival.co.nz
Taranaki (Taranaki Arts Festival)