BWW Review: NGA PUKE at Herald Theatre Aotea Centre Auckland
History is crucial to the culture of any country and there is nothing more effective than having the experience of 'feeling' that history. Feeling what it was like for those who came before us and were thrust into the terror of World War II is deliciously delivered by Waiti Production's Ngā Puke at the Aotea Centre's Herald Theatre.
Director Cian Elyse White assisted by Romy Hooper have captured not only the heart but the soul of this beautifully crafted story by NZ Playright John Broughton bringing together a young Maori man and a young Scottish woman in the commonality of appreciation of the beautiful views from the lush hillside of Ngā Puke in Hawke's Bay.
Waru,(Kimo Houltham) a young Māori farmer, and Angie,(Simone Walker) a budding Pākehā artist of Scottish descent, accidentally meet and despite their vastly different backgrounds experience an immediate connection.
As the Second World War breaks out, Waru joins the Māori Battalion and Angie becomes a nurse. When their paths cross again on Crete, much has changed. Will the two make it through the horrors of war and back to the beautiful pastures of Pōrangahau?
Kimo Houltham is well known to both stage and screen. He's a huge talent; charisma in buckets and performs from the very depths. His connection to his Maori culture sends shivers. Simone Walker plays the quintessential woman of her time period, following in the footsteps of expectation but also rebelling to be who she really wants to be. She is delicate but strong, attempting to control her feelings towards Waru but revealing enough to keep us riveted.
The relationship between these two is subtly revealed both within and in spite of the protocols of accepted behaviour of the time. The cultural divide is overcome during the beautiful moments where these two align.
The simplistic set and clever lighting illuminate their raw talent . Together they are spellbinding.
In the words of Director Cian Elyse White, it is truly is a play about love and appreciation of home, land, and people.
Go see it. Take the whole whanau. It's important.