The Wairau Affray

On Friday 25th June 2021, held the second night of The Wairau Affray production held at the Marlborough ASB Theatre.  It has been a while since I have been to the theatre, the last time being Chess the musical when I was a teenager.

As I had previously done some research on the incident when I was in Blenheim over the last Christmas period, when I saw the production I thought that it would be good to see it.  I went into it with no expectations as this appears to still be a controversial topic still to this day.

Having seen the monuments in Tuamarina, all with subtle anger from the European side and disregard to the loss of life on the Maori side even though there were many more European deaths than Maori, it was going to be interesting on how this would be shown in this production.  From what I read of the play, it was written by someone who appeared to have done the same thing as me, however had spend a couple of years doing his research.

The play was done very well, it was shown from the view from the settlers, however it did it gracefully and showed the reasoning behind the decisions made from there point of view.  The main narrator was an English Settler who married a Maori woman.  He understood the Maori language and customs and acted as a translator for the members of the New Zealand Company.  We can see through this character who was always trying to advise caution in the decisions that lead up to the incident.  It also showed through this character that not all the settlers had the same opinion over the matter, however had to go along with the orders passed down to them.

The play expects you to know some things, mainly details of the main account of the affray, details of Blenkinsop’s deed, any prior meetings between the New Zealand company and Te Rauparaha, and the details following the Affray.  The play also gets straight to the point, it is not weighted down by a fictional sub plot. the fictional parts of the story are there to help explain the events and allow the viewer to experience what the narrator is feeling from his point of view through them.

I would recommend this play as it showcases the details of one of New Zealand’s historic tragedies in a non adjective manor.  It is educational and does not promote an agenda of any kind. 

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