The Navigators

By Malia Johnston, Katie Wolfe and Kate Parker

6 OCT - 8 OCT 2017 — ATC Bonus Show



Auckland Theatre Company


ASB Waterfront Theatre



The Haka Party Incident contains strong language


Watch three brilliant new ideas come into being in The Navigators.

Three artists have been commissioned by Auckland Theatre Company to develop ground-breaking new performance work. The Navigators marks the beginning of that journey.

Presented over a festival-style weekend, The Navigators is an invitation into the director's imagination as they take their first steps in creating a new piece of theatre. Gain an insight into how Malia Johnston, Kate Parker and Katie Wolfe work, and watch selected scenes from each play.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to experience theatre in the making.

Moon by Malia Johnston is a dance-theatre piece inspired by the night sky as a place of dreams and imaginings. We now use our mobile phones to navigate and connect us, but the cosmos is the original internet that guided intrepid explorers. Working with long-time collaborators Eden Mulholland and Rowan Pierce, and with contributions from young writers, Malia invites you to add your voices and responses to Moon.

The Wild Seed Thief, created and directed by Kate Parker, is an original environmental fable featuring stunning visual imagery. Inspired by perilous journeys, ancient trees and incredible creatures, Kate imagines a dystopian future where the fate of the world rests in the hands of children, the senses of animals and in seeds as old as time. Suitable for everyone seven years and older.

The Haka Party Incident, created and directed by Katie Wolfe, is documentary theatre based on an event that changed race relations in Aotearoa forever: a violent stoush between the University of Auckland engineering students preparing for their annual mock haka down Queen Street and members of activist group He Taua. Exploring ‘the alchemy of performance and truth’, Katie’s piece features differing perspectives of those who were there, their views and experiences, then and now.

You are invited to take part in the development of these new works by joining the conversation and sharing your views.



Cuba Haslam

Claire O'Neil

Sean McDonald

Melana Khabazi

Taniora Motutere

Braedyn Humphries

Olivia Foley

The Wild Seed Thief

Tama Jarman

Justin Haiu

Rosie Tapsell

Leroy Lakamu

Amber-Rose Henshall

The Haka Party Incident

Aroha Rawson

Kimo Houltham

Kate McGill

Johnny Bright



Adult (single show) $32

Adult (all three shows) $75

Senior 65+ (single show) $29

Senior 65+ (all three shows) $69

Groups 6+ (single show) $29

Groups 6+ (all three shows) $69

Concession* (single show) $24

Concession* (all three shows) $60

*Full-time students who are 25 years of age or younger, Community Services Card holders and members of recognised entertainment industry associations. 

Three show pass.

Save money and book a three show pass to see all three of The Navigators performances.

Book Three Show Pass

New directions

ATC’s Literary Unit is dedicated to identifying, nurturing and invigorating the life force of new work by New Zealand playwrights and theatre-makers. This year our three Artistic Associates have expanded the boundaries of our imaginations with their vibrant, irresistible projects.


Created and directed by Malia Johnston

The study of the night sky unites all people, inspires a sense of awe and connects deeply with our imaginations. It is the perfect starting place to make a new work.

There has been a resurgence of interest around the cultural perspectives of the Matariki star cluster and its significance for Māori. In his book Matariki: The Star of the Year, Dr Rangi Mātāmua points out the collision that has occurred when our knowledge of how the Matariki stars are referred to is mixed with other cultures’ perspectives. These stars have also played a significant role in a variety of cultures when it comes to growing crops, understanding weather patterns and navigating. We now use our mobile phones to navigate but the cosmos is the original internet!

We have invited young wordsmiths, rappers, lyricists and poets to explore what interests them in regard to the star in the Matariki cluster that is referred to as Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the star that is wished upon. Hiwa-i-te-rangi represents the heart and desires for the year ahead and aspirations for the future.

Over the years, I have developed strong creative partnerships with both Eden Mulholland (composer) and Rowan Pierce (AV designer) and so I’m very excited to be able to have them both working on this project with me.

Moon will incorporate movement, design, light, sound and text. The presentation will be an awesome time to share visual chapters, to expose and open up what we are interested in and to share the performance space with the audience. We invite you to come and investigate.

The Wild Seed Thief

Created and directed by Kate Parker

I’ve been thinking about trees…
Living close to a regenerating forest – the Waitakere Ranges – I imagine the giant trees that must have stood here: what it must have been like growing for millennia without human involvement. What would the birds have sounded like?

Trees operate on a much slower time scale than humans, including their electrical impulses. Most are only just adult at 100 years and many have life spans of over a thousand years. Peter Wohlleben has written a book called The Hidden Life of Trees. He speaks of ancient and wild forests talking to each other through their roots and the soil to share nutrients and defences.

This makes me think about growing things. And seeds. Kernels of knowledge, little packets of life that can sometimes stay waiting for the right conditions for thousands of years.

And about children in the wild…
I’m really drawn to a picture of a Colombian girl going to school on a zipline with her brother in a sack (as he is too little to travel the precarious ride alone). It inspired the beginning of a story: orphan siblings living in a future with huge sprawling cities and an unpredictable climate, where rain turns to fire and trees are a memory. They discover a wild seed store and they are set on a transforming journey.

I find myself building pictures with paper and light. Thinking about how actors might manipulate this world and bring it to life. How the cities might appear from the floor, like pop-up, and how the roots of trees might grow down from the roof; how the characters might shift and change, perhaps turning into animals or having animal traits. How the audience might be involved in creating a change in the space.

Being a practical creator, I lean towards making the pictures and then following these ideas to find ways to bring them to life. What you might see at The Navigators in October is a peek into this development process. A few scenes, a developing world and language, some characters, some ideas for set and perhaps sound. It might also be a chance to contribute to the work’s early
development through feedback and the creation of some flying seeds. We will see!

The Haka Party Incident

Created and directed by Katie Wolfe

The last New Zealand war took place in Auckland in 1979.

It lasted three minutes.

Every year a group of University of Auckland engineering students celebrated graduation with a mock haka. Dressed in hula skirts with obscene words and penises painted on their bodies and roaring drunk, the haka would stop traffic on Queen Street. A Māori and Pacific Island activist group, He Taua, asked them to respect the haka and stop. The student council asked them to stop. The university asked them to stop. No one listened. On 1 May 1979, He Taua executed a surprise attack on the students as they rehearsed for the last time. It was swift and violent. The resulting outrage from both Māori and Pākehā around New Zealand was extreme. He Taua were seen as acting outside all that made us good, decent people. But then the tide began to turn. Against fervent public opinion, people began to stand with He Taua. The idea that we were a country that had institutionalised racism was talked about for the first time and paved the way for the Māori renaissance of the 1980s. This untold story will be told by those who were there. We will hear their first-hand accounts of the war that raged, how they experienced the conflict and viewed the outcome, then and now. All three minutes of it.

I am fascinated by the alchemy of performance and truth. I am also fascinated by the journey that Māori and Pākehā have taken in post-colonial New Zealand. The lessons of the past can only be lessons if they are remembered. When I came across the 1979 Haka Party Incident, I was drawn to find out more. This is an important Auckland story that involves New Zealanders from many backgrounds. It is a story that is a significant chapter in Māori and Pākehā race relations and changed how we navigate this relationship.

I have always been drawn to verbatim theatre. Verbatim theatre is ostensibly documentary theatre. The script is collected from live interviews and recreated by actors exactly as they were spoken. The same actor may play many different roles and sometimes the actors are working with headphones and listening to the interview as they perform it. Verbatim theatre is not a form but a technique: a way of incorporating the words of real people, as spoken in private interview or public record, into drama.

“In a world drowning in opinion, Verbatim Theatre offers us the bracing stimulus of fact. At a time when there is enormous public scepticism not only about politics but about the media, the theatre can offer a source of (relatively) uncontaminated truth.” Michael Billington – Theatre Reviewer, The Guardian.