Theatre: The Ragged, Dog & Bone, Public Works, and The Landeaters

Experience all four ‘The Undertow’ plays in one day – discover 177 years of extraordinary Wellington stories that surprise and delight. 

  • When Sat 21 Jan 2017, 1:30–10:30pm
  • Where
    Soundings Theatre, Level 2
  • Cost For all four plays: adult $90, concession $65, student $55, child $45
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Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua.
Man disappears but the land remains.

The Ragged

The Ragged is a tale of settlers, Māori, and the New Zealand Company that brings 1840s Wellington to life. The chief of a Māori village in Owhiro Bay welcomes settler Samuel Kenning, who has rejected the hierarchy of the new Wellington settlement. But tensions build as other recent arrivals begin to carve up the land. 

Dog and Bone

Dog & Bone paints a vivid picture of the capital in 1869 – a time when ‘savage’ lives were cheap and colonial greed ruled. Brothers Tāiki and Kurītea Kenning both want to protect their family land – prime real estate on Wellington’s south coast. But while Tāiki tries to convince his people to lay down their weapons, Kurītea joins Ngāti Ruanui in Taranaki to fight the ‘landeaters’.



The Undertow, 2016. Photograph by Aneta Pond, courtesy of Te Rākau Theatre

Public Works

Public Works tells the story of ordinary soldiers and nurses in the First World War. At Passchendaele, Belgium, the Allied troops have abandoned the frontline soldiers. Meanwhile, as Māori combatants serve ‘King and Country’, the Public Works Act is stripping their rights and land back in New Zealand. Cousins Hamuera Kenning and Will Meier must help each other escape, heal, and find a way home before all is lost.

The Landeaters

In The Landeaters, Wayne Tinkerman has finally been given the right to develop land on Wellington’s south coast, the site of a willow tree where ancient spirits reside. All that stands in his way is former mana whenua (landowner) Harry Kenning, fighting to save his land, ancestors, and memories from urban development.

To have read or heard about our local history is one thing, but to see it portrayed in the way Te Rākau Theatre does is special and unique and not to be missed.

The Dominion Post

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University, presents this season of Te Rākau Theatre’s ‘The Undertow’ with support from Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangātira, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Te Puni Kōkiri.

The Undertow

‘The Undertow’ is a quartet of bold, ambitious plays from Te Rākau Theatre, performed together for the first time. Immerse yourself in stories with a kaupapa Māori perspective that span the first settler ships and modern urban life. 

Creative team

Director Jim Moriarty (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Kōata, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitāne, Scots, Norwegian) is co-founder of Wellington-based Te Rākau Theatre, which has worked with schools, prisons, marae, rural communities, and youth justice residencies since 1989.

Te Rākau Theatre playwright Helen Pearse-Otene (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Kahungunu-Rongomaiwahine) is author of all four ‘The Undertow’ plays.


Sat 21 Jan 2017, 1.30pm–10.30pm (includes two 45-minute intermission breaks, and a 90-minute dinner break at 5pm)

Mon 23 Jan 2017, 1.30pm–10.30pm (includes two 45-minute intermission breaks, and a 90-minute dinner break at 5pm)

Sun 29 Jan 2017, 1.30pm–10.30pm (includes two 45-minute intermission breaks, and a 90-minute dinner break at 5pm)