Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Mt Roskill theatre group tells stories of its changing environment

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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John Pulu | Presenter/ Reporter/Director

No. 3 Roskill theatre formed in 2020 gave locals a voice to share their experience of what’s happening in their suburb.

Home is where the heart is for proud Mount Roskill resident Netane Tauki’uvea.

“I came from Tonga in 2011 and pretty much stayed in Roskill my whole life so I call it my home away from home,” he says.

Developed in the 1940s, Mount Roskill was a major state housing suburb and is now one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Auckland.

However, surrounding Netane is a whole lot of transformation that’s taking away the old homes and making way for new ones.

“A lot of the old state houses are being busted down so they can build three or four more new houses in that spot so yeah, there’s a lot of houses going down and even more houses going up really and families are being moved away and yeah, there’s a lot of changes going on,” Tauki‘uvea says.

And that change features in the stories Netane and some of his old school mates tell at No.3 Roskill theatre, thanks to funding from the local board back in 2020.

Music director, Lijah Mavaega is stoked they also finally have a space where they can express their creative energy.

“There’s so much beauty in seeing our people come together and just perform and sing and share stories. Yeah it’s a form of expression so it’s nice it’s a good way to be together.”

They are stories that are close to home for many, laying the foundation for some powerful story-telling. In 2021 they put on their very first production ‘Love to say goodbye’ in the backyard of an iconic house on Roseman Ave.

“This was the house that was used to film Toa Fraser’s movie No.2 and we all grew up watching that movie,” Tauki‘uvea says

“So it’s just really nice driving past and you just see that house you’re just like hey, that’s the house where No.2 was filmed in and now we can say, that’s the house ‘Love to say goodbye’ was in.”

Many families have moved on but their stories remain. Jonjon Tolovae is the group’s costume designer and she says their shows provided an outlet to share their lived experiences.  

“It was an opportunity to voice the feelings of our family and other families who weren’t able to, you know, say it out loud or write it on paper. We got to perform it and do it in a way that was nice for us yeah.”

The cast would like to do one more show at the famous Mount Roskill house while it still stands.

In the meantime, No.3 Roskill continues to nurture local talent.

“I hope people feel seen and understood and I hope people don’t feel so isolated when they hear these kinds of stories because in our show we touch and we dabble on lots of many different topics so I hope our community can resonate just for a little bit,” Mavaega says.

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