The Haka Party Incident by Katie Wolfe

Tasman Ray Productions

Katie Wolfe (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa Rangatira)
Katie Wolfe is well known to New Zealand audiences as a director, writer and actor who works across theatre, film and television in both drama and documentary. She was the winner of the inaugural WIFT Mana Wahine Award. Katie creates and produces content for Whaakata Māori (Māori television). Her most recent documentaries are He Māngai Wāhine and for the Artefact series – Te Hokinga Mai and Road to War. Katie was one of the directors of the acclaimed film Waru. Her films Redemption, This Is Her and Kawa (an adaptation of Witi Ihimaera’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain) garnered many awards internationally. Katie also directs on several international television dramas. As an actor Katie portrays the popular character Nanny Fanny for Whaakata Māori’s hit comedy The Ring INZ.

For The Haka Party Incident Katie, received three Adam NZ Play Awards including Best Māori Playwright and the Dean Parker Verbatim Theatre Award. Katie has also directed The Mooncake and the Kūmara for the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival and notable other NZ works are Rendered for Auckland Theatre Company, Anahera for Circa, Luncheon for Basement and The Women for Silo.

Tasman Ray Productions evolved from touring theatre in NZ in the 1990’s. National tours of ‘Lets’ Spend the Night Together’ (1992) ‘Blue Sky Boys’ (1995), then the internationally acclaimed ‘Jimmy Costello’ (1997-1999, Edinburgh, Galway, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem), the NZ Actors Company (2000-2002) and Ngā Manurere (2010) developed Katie Wolfe and partner Tim Balme’s understanding of taking theatre to an audience.

Image: Sacha Stejko/Norm Heke


The Haka Party Incident is a verbatim theatre piece that began its life from this intriguing premise:

‘The last New Zealand war took place in Auckland in 1979. It lasted three minutes’.

The work innovatively combines documentary and kapa haka.

In 1979, a group of young Māori and Pasifika activists confronted a group of University of Auckland engineering students as they rehearsed their ‘mock’ haka; a university capping stunt that had caused offense for over forty years.

The incident sent ripples through the nation and changed race relations in New Zealand forever.

Exploring Aotearoa’s baptism of fire into addressing systemic racism. Katie notes: “I wanted the audience to be unafraid to enter into this discourse. The documentary participants, young in 1979, were authentic, sometimes matter of fact, refreshingly candid, funny and passionate. I wanted to use the medium of kapa haka, performed with astonishing excellence and beauty, to make the point that ignoring cultural appropriation and disrespect does matter. I identify as Māori and was born and raised in my tribal region, Taranaki. I also identify as Pākehā. As an artist, this sometimes unsettling meeting point between these two worlds, is something sharply epitomized in The Haka Party Incident.”

Reviewers agreed noting the theatrical excellence of the work “innovative and brilliant” alongside its ability to “…beautifully and courageously illuminate the dark side of racism and colonialism in Aotearoa/New Zealand, while also proffering a way to move forward together.” Audience reaction described the work as “powerful and emotional” ; “intensely funny to heartbreakingly sad in a single beat.”

Session Times
PROFILE: Here’s What We Made
Thursday 8 June, 10:00am & 5:30pm AEST


Fenn Gordon