Ground-Breaking Witi Ihimaera Play
New Ground-Breaking Witi Ihimaera Play Tells Story of New Zealand Native Contingent in WWI
Courage and loyalty are tested in a ground-breaking new play from acclaimed New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera.
Taki Rua Productions presents the world premiere season of Witi Ihimaera’s All Our Sons at Circa Theatre in Wellington from 6-14 November.
Written and staged as part of New Zealand’s World War I commemorations, All Our Sons is based on the stories of the New Zealand Native Contingent which served at Gallipoli.
Directed by Nathaniel Lees and featuring a 10-strong cast, the play is a story of love and family – a journey of the memories and fears of a mother and her beloved son set against the background of the Māori land wars and World War I. Told through the eyes of kuia ‘Grandma Mataira’, it follows the story of Waru Mataira (Rob Mokaraka) who, together with his son, volunteers to represent the Māori iwi of Mataira Mountain in the New Zealand Native Contingent.
Under the guidance of their Pākeha leader Alec Campbell, they join the battle on the western front as part of the newly titled Pioneer Battalion where their courage is tested and so too are their loyalties.
Writer Witi Ihimaera, whose ancestor Wi Pere escorted the East Coast-Gisborne contingent to deployment, says he was inspired to write the play by the story of the haka during the battle of Sari Bair two days before the battle of Chunuk Bair. “They used the haka to locate each other during the night so they knew when they were all in position. I was also very aware that the Māori voice during World War I needed to be heard.”
Ihimaera adds that writing the play is about kawe mate – bringing back the memories of the dead. “And it’s about all our sons, not just Māori, but pākeha as well – once they fought each other, now shoulder to shoulder they fight together.”
Following the Wellington season, Ihimaera says there are plans to tour All Our Sons to marae and community halls in small towns where people will be invited to bring photos of their ancestors and share their stories over a cup of tea.
Taki Rua kahukura (CEO) Tanemahuta Gray says the company is proud to be presenting this important new play by Witi Ihimaera.
“Witi has that magic touch that has kept readers spellbound for decades. His words breathe life into characters and they draw us into their world of tupuna (ancestors), whakapapa (genealogy), wairua (spirit) and aroha (love).