When the Hawkes Bay Drama Workshop’s rendition of ‘Pania’ opens at East Pier, Napier, on December 2nd, it is much more than a recounting of a local story that will be played out.. 

As Juliet Cottrell, the Workshop’s director explains, “When writer, Amanda Jackson, began the journey of writing this play, she quickly came to the realization that she was, in fact, about to bring to life the history of Ngati Paarau, a Hapu based at Waiohiki, and also tell a story that has been largely misunderstood by many locals and visitors alike.” Jackson agrees and adds, “The story of Pania has been seen by so many as a tragic love story, of loss and grief, when in fact it is one of enduring commitment, of hope, guardianship and the balance between the sea and land of this coastline” 

The two women explain that this local story is very much about creation. As much so even as that of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. And the integrity with which it is told, has become a key focus for them both. This has meant close consultation with the Tareha family, who are some of the story’s owners. 

The clearer understanding of the story, that has come about because of the close collaboration, has intrigued local community, drawing participation from what will be more than 100 children, and support from the likes of local artist, David Trubridge, who has created a central piece for the set. 

The hopes of director, writer and story owners alike, is that in the telling of the story – as it should be – those who are involved, both participating and watching, will come to a better understanding of the richness of our region, and the on going part this story plays in the lives of those who are fortunate enough to live here.