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How It Started, How It’s Going; Oscar Kightley’s Dawn Raids 25 Years On

In the wake of the Apology, Auckland Theatre Company and Pacific Underground join forces to present a searing tale of injustice

One of the most anticipated contemporary productions of 2022, Dawn Raids – first staged in 1997 by legendary Pasifika theatre collective Pacific Underground – will take to the mainstage this August at ASB Waterfront Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The play, by Arts Foundation Laureate, actor, writer, theatre and film director and comedian, tusitala Oscar Kightley MNZM revisits a shameful period in the 1970’s when the New Zealand government cracked down on overstayers in Aotearoa, ripping Pasifika families from their beds in a series of targeted early morning police raids.

Dawn Raids producer of Pacific Underground, the country’s longest running Pacific performing arts organisation, Tanya Muagututi’a MNZM says, “From the start, Oscar’s influence and forward thinking transpired into courageous storytelling across our diverse platforms. By 1997 Dawn Raids was our fifth play that spoke of the truths untold of Pasifika people living in Aotearoa, giving us all empowerment to keep honouring our community through theatre, music and events. Oscar's trademark humour balances out the conflict within this family story, in a cathartic and uplifting way.

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25 years later, Aotearoa is more aware. It was one of our country's darkest moments, so this revival offers a place for talanoa and healing. We are proud to present this remarkable play again, together with Auckland Theatre Company and a new generation of Pasifika talent, especially these days, collaboration is our jam”.

Dawn Raids Director, Samoan-New Zealander Troy Tu’ua hails from a rich history of creating, directing and performing exceptional Pasifika work. A co-founder of much-admired Sau E Siva Creatives a South Auckland dance theatre company he has also co-directed many productions at Ngā Tohu o Uenuku / Māngere Arts Centre, notably the acclaimed and joyous The Wizard of Otahuhu which transferred to Q Theatre for a repeat sell-out season in 2018.

The live band – Malcolm Lakatani (Che Fu, Te Vaka), Andrew Sione (Tribalincs, 1 Drop Nation), Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson (The Life of Galileo, Still Life with Chickens), Lijah Mavaega (Love to Say Goodbye, Odd Daphne), led by esteemed musician, Musical Director Pos Mavaega MNZM, features prominently throughout the show, performing of-the-era soul, funk and island favourites.

Audiences will be transported to Auckland’s Paradise Honeypot Club in the 70’s, where lead character Sione, played by Michael Falesiu (Mother’s Tongue, Hearts of Men, The Perfect Gift) transforms into smooth crooner ‘Fabian’ by night, with his band the ‘Noble Hawai’ian Sabretooth Tigers’.

Falesiu is joined by a stellar cast of talent, including Gabrielle Solomona (SIS, Fresh TV, UPU), Talia-Rae Mavaega (Odd Daphne, Fresh off the Boat, Polly Hood in Mumuland), Jake Arona (Whā, Fresh off the Boat, Palu), Italia Hunt (Mean Mums, Standing Up for Sunny, Baby Mama’s Club), Lauie Sila (Jonah, Macbeth Filthy Rich) and Bella Kalolo (Matariki, Sione’s Wedding, Little Shop of Horrors).

The experienced creative team includes Set and Costume Designers Tony De Goldi (A Streetcar Named Desire, Fresh off the Boat, Hohepa) and Mark McEntyre (Flagons and Foxtrots, Transmissions, Les Liaisons Dangereuses) and award-winning Lighting Designer Jo Kilgour (Night Light, The Haka Party Incident, The Life of Galileo).

This unmissable, new production of Oscar Kightley’s Dawn Raids will shine a light on a shunned part of Aotearoa New Zealand history, for a generation of audiences who may have only recently become aware of what took place. With Pasifika warmth and wit, this powerful, large-scale co-production will enlighten and educate by bringing Pacific Underground’s deep and generous knowledge of the past, to centre stage.

Tickets are on sale now, afio mai.


DAWN RAIDS by Oscar Kightley

A co-production between Auckland Theatre Company and Pacific Underground

16 August – 3 September 2022

ASB Waterfront Theatre, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

Tickets and info / 0800 282 849


Photo credit Ross Brown

MEDIA CONTACT: For media information, additional images and interviews, please contact Vanessa Preston, PR Manager, Auckland Theatre Company: or ph: +64 21 217 3452


Sione (Fabian): Michael Falesiu

Fuarosa (Losa): Gabrielle Solomona

Teresa: Talia-Rae Mavaega

Bene: Jake Arona

Steve: Italia Hunt

Mose: Lauie Sila

To'aga: Bella Kalolo


Written by: Oscar Kightley

Producer, Pacific Underground: Tanya Muagututi'a

Assistant Producer: Susi Afitu

Director: Troy Tu'ua

Assistant Director: Jake Arona

Musical Director: Pos Mavaega

Set & Costume Designers: Tony De Goldi and Mark McEntyre

Lighting Designer: Jo Kilgour

Story Sovereignty and Well Being: Mishelle Muagututi'a and Lafai'ali'i Maila Flo Lafai

Spiritual Support Lead: Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua

PU Marketing: Grace Taylor


Pos Mavaega

Malcolm Lakatani

Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson

Andrew (Dru) Sione

Lijah Mavaega

Sione Faletau

Tanya Muagututi’a

Notes to the Editor:

About Oscar Kightley

About Pacific Underground

© Scoop Media

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