Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

New play dives into Middlemore Hospital and  the healthcare system 

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

After a two year disruption, Things that Matter is finally taking to the stage, hoping to shed light on issues around life, death and the healthcare system.

What should and shouldn’t matter?

It’s a conundrum that author Dr David Galler had sought to address after his 30-year career as an intensive care specialist at Middlemore Hospital. 

His experience set him to write a book, a memoir, titled ‘Things that Matter’’ explaining in detail his journey through the healthcare system. 

His work was later adapted by award-winning playwright Gary Henderson and director Anapela Polata’ivao combining to piece together ‘Things that Matter’, the play.

Director Polata’ivao. Photo: Tagata Pasifika.

Director Polata’ivao says that, although the work of David Galler was new to her, the book holds an important and common message for all.

“I read the first draft I think or maybe it was almost in production the pre-pod draft. And that was the first thing that struck me, was it’s a dire situation that we’re in in terms of us being as human beings,” she says.

“But also it was important, there’s Middlemore Hospital you know set in South Auckland, and a lot of the time, as we know, it is predominantly Pacific islanders in there being treated for all kinds of illnesses and diseases.”

Actress Stacey Leilua, well-known for her role on american show ‘Young Rock’, is part of the talented cast. 

She too shares Polata’ivao’s thoughts on how eye-opening the play is.

Actress Stacey Leilua, well-known for her role on american show ‘Young Rock’, is part of the talented cast. 

“I was actually born in Middlemore hospital and I gave birth to my daughter at Middlemore hospital,” she says.

“I grew up in South Auckland. You know, just family issues around healthcare and family members in and out of hospital and family passing away at Middlemore Hospital and familiar with the hospital itself.”

In recent times, Middlemore Hospital has been at the centre of scrutiny. Issues such as staff-shortages, overcrowding and unfit areas have been highlighted. Those issues are addressed in the play which also dives deep into the personal problems which affect people in and outside of the hospital.

Someone who fully understands this is cast member Semu Filipo.

Filipo, who plays the role of Sol and Chris, says that although he was unfamiliar to Dr Galler’s work, the play and book spoke to him in a personal way and he’s grateful to be able to tell those stories to a wider audience.

(R) Cast member Semu Filipo.

“Theatre is such an amazing and important medium to tell stories. The approach that I have kind of taken with all my work is playing the truth of every scene that I am in,” Filipo says.

“You know growing up and losing my parents, especially my father, at a young age in Auckland and just feeling helpless at that time and probably not knowing what was going on. You know, I think anyone that’s gonna come to this show is gonna feel something when they watch this play.”

As the cast and crew put the finishing touches before opening night, there is hope for a change to be inspired through their work. A change that not only affects the healthcare system, but also daily interactions among the community.

“It is about human beings, it is about connection, it is about respect, it is about love ultimately and just taking care of one another better,” Filipo says.

“People need to connect those dots for just  better New Zealand.

The play opens on Saturday 12th August at the ASB Waterfront theatre and will run until the 27th.



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