The Ragged

Te Rākau Theatre with support from Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangātira, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Te Puni Kōkiri presents ‘The underTOW’ – A quartet of plays about the settlement of Wellington – past, present and future

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua – Man disappears but the land remains. 

Part One: The Ragged (Wellington 1840)

By Helen Pearse-Otene

Directed by Jim Moriarty

Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, level 2

20 – 28 January 2015


A4 Poster The Ragged-no text-hi-res

It’s 1840 and all the players are here, 

at the bottom of the world, 

at the dawn of the great new British Colony:

Port Nicholson, Wellington, New Zealand

41.2889° S, 174.7772° E

NZ Company representatives the Spooners – for them a grand residence in Thorndon, flooded shacks for the rest. Come to Wellington – the land is flat, the climate sub-tropical and bananas grow plentifully!

Newly arrived settler Samuel Kenning – “safe and well at the ends of the earth” and ready to claim his land and his better life.

Governor Hobson’s man, Crippen, quelling the settlers’ fears of an impending savage attack.

Missionary man Thaddeus Bly bringing the firm hand of god to Port Nicholson and its natives.

But what of those natives? Those Māori over in Ōwhiro Bay? Wise but stubborn old chief Te Waipōuri and his people.

Surely they are grateful for the presence of these sweet talking men, these landeaters whose mouths froth for the land…?

The Ragged follows the struggles of the ordinary, yet extraordinary people who called Wellington home in 1840 and is the first in writer Helen Pearse-Otene’s quartet of plays about the settlement, development and future of Wellington, The underTOW.


Helen Pearse-Otene (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Kahungunu-Rongomaiwahine) 

Helen is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and Toi Whakaari:NZ Drama School. As a performer, Helen has toured throughout Aotearoa and overseas with Māori theatre productions including Waiora (Hone Kouka), Purapurawhetu (Briar Grace-Smith) and The Battalion. Helen has been a member of Te Rakau since 1999, working in every aspect of the company except the accounts department because “I can’t count”. The Ragged is Helen’s fifth play for Te Rakau. Her play The Battalion was included in the 2006 NZ Festival of the Arts and another, Ka Mate, Ka Ora was commissioned for the 2008 Vietnam Commemoration Tribute 08. Earlier this year, Helen won Best Female Actress at The Wairoa Film Festival, for her performance in No Petrol, No Diesel. Helen is particularly proud of this award as she was told that it was a close battle between her and the goat from Boy, as “Every actress knows it’s very difficult to win against someone who has a great death scene, not to mention a well trimmed beard”.


Jim Moriarty MNZM (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitane, Scots, Norwegian)

A sober Catholic Māori and father to 8 children, Jim was tarred with the performing brush at an early age. Long before Black & White television, when valve radios reigned supreme, Jim was infected with the need to be the centre of attention. Of course, coming from a family of 8 siblings and many whangai, this was rarely the case for Jim. Needless to say, Jim battled on through the late 60s in the Māori Theatre Trust, and in the timber town television series Pukemanu. In the 70s, Jim stumbled in and out of local soap opera Close to Home, and in the 80s landed on his feet in New Zealand Theatre. Singing, sometimes dancing, occasionally acting up a storm, over the next 30 years, Jim earned the status of Veteran New Zealand Actor (Jim says the only thing “veteran” about it is that he seems to have outlived a number of his peers and mentors and is close to earning his “Gold Card”).  Brought up on the Marae at Takapuwahia, educated through Catholic primary and secondary schools, following a short stint at Victoria University, Jim got a real job and trained as a Psychiatric Nurse (following in the footsteps of his parents). Jim is “forever grateful” for the mix of his blood, to his hard working mother and father and to the teachers who bothered to bother: “The teachers came in a variety of shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, and degrees of intensity. So anything I might be good at – or otherwise – they are all to blame.”  In the last 21 years, Jim has spearheaded Te Rakau Trust, using his skills as a performer, a director and as a health professional to support the journey and development of those less fortunate.


Tanemahuta Gray (Ngāi Tahu, Rangitāne and Tainui )

Tanemahuta Gray graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1994 and is their current Māori Kapa Haka tutor and that of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. He has worked professionally as a dancer, choreographer, aerialist, director, teacher, adjudicator and producer in New Zealand and abroad and has produced and directed 16 productions and outdoor events.

His choreographic works include five years guest choreographing on the South Pacific Section for WOW – World of WearableArt Awards; the Oceania representative work (from New Zealand) at the World Expo Opening Ceremony in Shanghai and his major opus Māui – One Man Against The Gods. He has co-curated three Kōwhiti Dance festivals and was the Artistic Director of Te Matatini’s Arohanui – The Greatest Love. He has provided Kapa Haka choreography for Hone Kouka’s Tū and The Beautiful Ones and worked with Te Rākau co-producing their production of Ka Mate, Ka Ora during Tribute08 – A Vietnam Veteran Commemoration which he was the Creative Director of.

Tanemahuta is a conversational speaker of te reo Māori and has focused on mastering mau raakau (taiaha). His focus has now been on creating a new form of Maori contemporary movement with Kōrari, a fusion of contemporary movement and Māori Martial Art forms.

Producer: Sasha Gibb

Costume Design: Cara Waretini

Lighting Design: Lisa Maule

Sound Design: Busby Pearse-Otene

Marketing and Publicity: Aneta Ruth

Promotional graphic design: Walter Hansen