March 26, 2021
True words told on Haka Party Incident
A new play is set to bring the words and actions of a 1979 confrontation between Māori and Pākehā students over a haka to Auckland's ASB Waterfront Theatre.
The Haka Party Incident was delayed because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Playwright Katie Wolfe used court transcripts and recordings of interviews made at the time to tell the story of how He Taua, a group of Māori students and their friends, attacked engineering students as they prepared to perform a mock haka.
The sight of the engineers wearing grass skirts and with rude words and signs painted on their bodies was a long standing Capping Week tradition.
He Taua members were charged with rioting and other offences, but the haka was never performed again.
Neenah Dekkers Reihana, who plays Hilda Halkyard Harawira, says verbatim theatre attempts to give audiences the uncontaminated truth – and presents a challenge for actors.
"It's important that it comes as much from the original voice as possible so we all felt a collective nervousness at the beginning because you want to make sure that you are getting it right when you are speaking a true person's words and I really feel we have all got in there and now we are in the theatre we are lifting it up for the audience," she says.
The Haka Party Incident runs from March 30 to April 10.
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