Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


The Haka Party Incident To Open Tauranga Arts Festival In October

Tauranga Arts Festival is thrilled to announce that The Haka Party Incident will open the 2023 festival on October 19 at Baycourt Community and Arts Centre. Following its renowned sold-out premiere season in 2021, this groundbreaking work will come to Tauranga following a six-centre tour which has played to standing ovations and sell-out crowds.

Credit: Sacha Stejko Norm Heke

Provocative, resonant, and joyfully unforgettable, The Haka Party Incident innovatively combines documentary and Kapa Haka to thrilling effect. Awarded Best Play by a Māori Playwright and The Dean Parker Non-Fiction Award, the production is a not-to-be-missed theatre event.

“…A gift every New Zealander deserves to enjoy.” – Theatreview

Before writer and director Katie Wolfe (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) brought The Haka Party Incident verbatim theatre production to the stage, many New Zealanders were unaware of the titular three-minute conflict. In 1979 University of Auckland engineering students, rehearsing their annual tradition of a mock haka, were confronted by the activist group He Taua. That confrontation led to the nation’s baptism of fire into addressing systemic racism.

“Masterfully brings to life a bold act of resistance … intensely funny, to heartbreakingly sad in a single beat– Theatreview

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

This ambitious stage production requires its cast of seven to divide up 38 different roles. The students, activists and many others directly involved in or impacted by the haka party incident were interviewed by writer Katie Wolfe over a five-year period. Their verbatim accounts of what actually happened in 1979 are directly voiced onstage.

“…the relatively young ensemble never falters, effortlessly moving through distinct characters in the blink of an eye, and powerfully evoking the pain and conflict experienced by all sides.…a prime example of theatre's power to inform and enlighten audiences as well as entertain.” – NZ Herald

Haka, he taonga tuku iho or ‘a treasure from ancestors’ is not only at the centre of the historic incident but also forms the play’s structure which sees the cast perform historical and contemporary haka to thrilling effect. Wolfe’s son, Nikau, composed the final haka, ‘He Taua’ performed in the play.

‘I wanted to use the medium of Māori performing arts to make the point that ignoring cultural appropriation and disrespect does matter… it reminds us that racism is a continuum; it is founded in fear, and we must always be vigilant to check our prejudice, to face our fears,’ – Katie Wolfe

plays Baycourt Community and Arts Centre
Thursday 19 October and Friday 20 October at 7.30pm
Tickets on sale Monday 19 June from Ticketek:


For more information contact

Shane Bosher, Artistic Director, Tauranga Arts Festival


Writer & Director: Katie Wolfe (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa Rangatira)
Kaiako Kapa Haka/ Kaitito Haka: Nīkau Balme (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa Rangatira)
Sound Design & Musical Direction: Kingsley Spargo
Taonga Pūoro: Whetu Silver (Ngāti Pakahi ki Whangaroa, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi)
Set Design: John Verryt
Lighting Design: Jo Kilgour
Costume Design: Alison Reid

The Haka Party Incident is supported by Creative New Zealand, produced by Tasman Ray Productions. Presented by arrangement with Playmarket.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.