Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pacific play shines light on dark chapter of New Zealand history

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

The Dawn Raid play is currently being shown at the ASB Waterfront Theatre until the 3rd of September. It tells a story about a Samoan family who face personal issues whilst in the middle of the raids by the New Zealand Government.

Whether it was the band playing smooth tunes, or Michael Falesiu’s silky dancing, the Dawn Raids play was no doubt a total hit.

Currently showing at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, the phenomenal stage show will be running until the 3rd of September. Its sold-out audience on their opening night last week was evidence of its stellar performance.

Originally scripted by Oscar Kightley alongside the talented group Pacific Underground, the play was first performed in 1997-1998 across the country.

 In its 25th year since being penned, the play now takes on a revival with a new cast and crew, consisting of some of New Zealand’s best young talent.

The play revolves around a Samoan family living in Ponsonby during the time of the raids.   

At the helm of the show is director Troy Tu’ua. Having had his fair share of experience within the industry, Tu’ua understood the pressure that came with the role, given the weight the play has on the Pacific community.

Actors Gabrielle Solomona and Mikey Falesiu. Photo: Supplied

“I think the build up to it was a journey in itself” Tu’ua spoke.“But when we finally sat in the room for the first day and we had Pacific Underground, the Poly Panthers, Auckland Theatre Company and other creatives, it became a moment of realisation that this is really happening. And it’s real.”

Aiding Tu’ua is Pacific Underground duo Posenai Mavaega and Tanya Muagututi’a. Recently awarded New Zealand Order of Merit, both Posenai and Tanya are no strangers to the performing arts community.

“It’s been overwhelming really,” said Tanya

“Us accepting such a prestigious award or honour as such, was a representation of what our parents wanted us to become. To do great”.

“Our work with this play, we just hope to give it back to our community now especially for their support they’ve given us over the years”. 

For Tu’ua, the story of the Dawn Raids is always how it’s perceived by the public. What mattered to him was keeping the truth within the script.

Talia Rae-Mavaega (centre) leads the Brown Panthers on raid of a politician’s house.

“When we talked with Oscar about the play, he told us that every story in it, and every character that’s formed is all real. These are what our PI community do on a daily basis” he said.

The play is in its second week on stage, and is already racking up great reviews. Its success is driven through by its young amazing cast, who grace the stage with ease and talent.

Bella Kalolo Suraj and Jake Tupu are a few names within the young cast, and both have been truly blessed for the opportunity they’ve received.

With Pacific songs and languages being incorporated in the play, and costumes and props that symbolise an island household, both Suraj and Tupu feel like they’re in their own homes.

“It’s cool when you see small things in our cast. Like, wow! those sideburns look like my uncles” Suraj said.

“Those little similarities are the things that make us relate to the story, and draw our inspiration from to perform on stage.”

The play is currently on show until the 3rd of September, and tickets/schedule can be found on the Auckland Theatre Company website. 




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