New Zealand Post season of
The Pohutukawa Tree
By Bruce Mason
3 SEP - 26 SEP 2009 — Drama
Auckland Theatre Company
A proud and spiritual woman, Aroha attempts to instruct her children in Pakeha ways. But the post-war world of the 1950s has arrived and she is left increasingly isolated as everything she loves and stands for comes under siege.
Auckland Theatre Company's ground-breaking production of Bruce Mason's classic drama captures New Zealand society on the cusp of change.
International award winning actress and star of ONCE WERE WARRIORS, Rena Owen, returns home from Hollywood to star in New Zealand's greatest play.
George Rawlings/Sergeant Robinson
A tale of two families - one Maori, the other Pakeha - involving land, religion, lust and injustice is a familiar trope these days (most recently seen in Te Karakia). However, when Bruce Mason (of The End of the Golden Weather fame) wrote The Pohutukawa Tree 50 years ago, it was a prototype of operatic New Zealand family drama.
Central to the play are the debilitating effects of religion and conservatism and how it can wreck an individual. For, while the play concerns land issues and relationships between Maori and Pakeha it is about individuals and how they cope with their lives.
At the heart of The Pohutukawa Tree lies the blood that was spilt where it is rooted. In what she calls "the greatest victory ever won by the Māori against the Pakeha," Aroha Mataira's grandfather Whetumârama defended Te Parenga against colonial troops. It was he who planted the red-flowered tree to commemorate that battle; it stands as an emblem of Māoritanga itself. And now it is ailing and seen as increasingly dangerous by the Pakeha incumbents.