A Niuean, a Cook Islander and a Samoan join the Māori Battalion….

A play debuting in Auckland explores Pacific Islanders belonging to the 28th (Māori) Battalion during the Second World War.

Press Release – Chocolate Stigmata
Chocolate Stigmata is pleased to announce the theatre debut of scriptwriter D F Mamea, as part of the 3Up season that will run from Thursday 14 June to Saturday 16 June 2012, at the Herald Theatre in Auckland. The 3Up season offers an evening of three half-hour plays by three playwrights, and is a GreyView Production.

Goodbye My Feleni is set in 1942 and takes place at Trentham Army Camp in Wellington. In D “Ngati Walkabout” Company of the 28th (Māori) Battalion, the youthful confidence of three young Pasifika soldiers is shaken by the last minute replacement of their lieutenant. Their new leader may well be a battle-hardened veteran but he is also an unwelcome reminder of the soldiers’ mortality.

Playwright David Mamea (Safune/Safotu, Samoa) had assumed Pacific Islanders had fought in the Second World War. “I was listening to the Māori Battalion CD a few years back, and when I heard someone talking in Samoan, introducing two Samoan songs… something seized my heart: that seventy years earlier, and half way around the world, four young Pasifika men sang of their homelands and their fears. I had to write something around that.”

Jenni Heka (Ngati Niue/Malay) of Hekama Creative agreed to produce Goodbye My Feleni. “There’s a perception of competition between Maori and Pasifika peoples in all walks of life in New Zealand, as well as between the Pacific Island groupings as well. David’s play is a beautiful story of men from different Pacific Islands coming together for a common cause.”

Jenni found a believer in director Chris Molloy (Ngati Manawa/Tuhoe), hot off directing the Leilani Unasa play His Mother’s Son. Actors were quickly cast: Shadon Meredith (Safune/Tua’efu, Samoa), whose credits include the films The Orator and Sione’s 2; Samson Chan-Boon (Vailele/Tafua, Samoa), a young and hungry Pacific Institute of Performing Arts graduate; and Leki Jackson Bourke (Niue/Tonga/Samoa) and Andy Sani (Sinamona/Faatoia, Samoa), who were part of Massive Theatre’s critically acclaimed The Brave. “Assembling the team was incredibly easy,” Jenni admits. David adds with a superstitious tap of his forehead: “But not too easy.”

Goodbye My Feleni is written by D F Mamea, produced by Jenni Heka, and directed by Chris Molloy. Playing the Pasifika soldiers are Shadon Meredith, Andy Sani, Leki Jackson Bourke, and Samson Chan-Boon.

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