The Conch

A Boy Called Piano

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From the makers of The White Guitar  comes a new play revealing the stories of NZ's lost generation and the system that was supposed to protect them

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

In 2015, Fa'amoana and his sons bared their souls to audiences all around Aotearoa with the award winning The White Guitar. In 2018, drawing from his experiences and relationships formed through childhood, Fa'amoana reveals the story of A Boy Called Piano.


"The White Guitar is not just the story of Malo Luafutu aka Scribe's rags to semi-riches experience but a brutal and honest catalogue of the effects of immigration, violence, drugs, family, religion, decline and redemption for generations of a family struggling to survive and more importantly, to find a voice despite the curveballs that life throws them.

What could have been a formulaic, well-worn story is so much more realistic and gut wrenching because of the rawness and real treatment that The White Guitar delivers in spades. In fact we'd go so far as to say that it is one of the most soul-bearing pieces of theatre we've seen in a long long time.

The White Guitar's story is truly a theatrical masterpiece that will haunt me for a long time to come, accentuated by its intensity and authenticity."
- Theatre Scenes Auckland -review


At a time when the human rights commission petitioned the government for an enquiry into the terrible abuse of children in state care, resulting in a Royal Commission of inquiry, Fa'amoana has chosen to speak out through a historic new play. Building on The Conch's kaupapa of harnessing the power of theatre as a force for social change, this work takes us directly into the experience of thousands of Maori and Pacific children placed in state care in the 1960s.

Judge Carolyn Henwood, who heads the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service, which listens to ex State wards stories of historic abuse, said she was "shocked, stunned and staggered" by the high level of sexual abuse - particularly against boys.

Māori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell says the country's lost generations were more serious than what most people thought: "We're potentially talking about thousands of children being taken from their families simply for having a disability, being Māori or minor transgressions like skipping school, only to be abused physically, sexually and emotionally by the strangers and institutions that the State placed them with."

This important project recognises that this story is not one of private and isolated suffering, but one which impacts on us all; that the many thousands who suffered have profoundly affected the course of New Zealand history. That many like Fa'amoana, who have been demonised in the mainstream, began life as innocent children who were brutalised within a system that was supposed to be protecting and 'correcting' them.

This project also acknowledges that these stories do not live in the past, but continue to impact our nation today. "Despite our clean cut image, Aotearoa New Zealand has unacceptably high levels of child abuse. Abuse against children is a serious and extremely damaging social problem. " - Unicef


The play will follow three performers embodying the roles of young boys in state care in the 60s, suffering the hardships that Fa'amoana and others like himself have endured. We're very proud to announce one of these performers will be previous Conch collaborator Matthias Luafutu, son to Fa'amoana and one of the central performers in The White Guitar.


This project has been generously supported by Creative New Zealand in the scripting stage, giving Fa'amoana the time to research and draw from a deeply personal period in his life in order to bring these characters to life.

Now, as we arrive at the development process, we require $5,000 to put this work on its feet. Your support ensures we can get the full performance and creative team together in Wellington, and then pack us into the Herald Theatre in Auckland. This development season is proudly supported by Auckland Live who will be providing the theatre and its equipment at minimal cost.

Your generous donations will ensure that we have the capability to share this story with the world - something that is vitally needed and sorely wanted, as can be evidenced by the enormous success of The White Guitar.


The Luafutu Family
Fa'amoana Luafutu

Of the Sa Tuatagaloa can, Fa'amoana John Luafutu came to New Zealand as a young boy from the villages of Satalo and Poutasi, Falelili, Samoa. A self-taught musician and writer, John is known for his book, A Boy Called Broke - My story: so far. His involvement in The White Guitar has been another step in telling his story which he hopes will help young Pacific people in their own journeys. After the White Guitar, John worked with his son Matthias on the film Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Matthias Luafutu

Matthias has been building a career in acting since work with Jim Moriarty's theatre group, Te Rakau. He has enjoyed roles in television and in films for the past 4 years, including the television series Harry, working alongside Oscar Kightley and Sam Neill, and multiple award winning New Zealand film, Shopping. Most recently he was cast in the film Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johanson, filmed in Wellington. The White Guitar and A Boy Called Piano is Matthias's return back to his first love, theatre.

Nina Nawalowalo

In a career spanning more than 30 years, internationally-acclaimed theatre director Nina Nawalowalo has created a platform for the telling of Pacific stories across the globe. Artistic Director and Co-founder of Wellington-based theatre company The Conch, she is a performer, mentor and teacher who has presented at over 40 international festivals, including the London International Mime Festival, British Festival of Visual Theatre, and the Moscow Arts Festival.

From her ground breaking 'Vula' which toured for 7 years including a 3 week season at The Sydney Opera House, and a sold out season at London's Barbican Centre, to Masi, Marama and her unforgettable direction of the work of others such as Hone Kouka's The Prophet, and Edinburgh festival award-winning Duck death and the Tulip, Nina is renowned for her powerful visual and magical work exploring Pacific themes.

Tom McCrory

Tom read Drama at Bristol University, receiving a BA with first class honours before going on to train for two years under internationally-renown Master teacher Jacques Lecoq at L'Ecole Internationale De Theatre Jacques Lecoq, Paris, France. Before moving to New Zealand his work was included in many national and international festivals, including 'Diskurs Festival' Geissen Germany, British Festival of Visual theatre, Edinburgh festival and National review of Live Art.

Alongside Nina Nawalowalo he is co-founder of The Conch, and has played an active and vital role in all Conch productions, including his significant involvement in the script development of The Conch production The White Guitar.

Sasha Gibb

Sasha joined the Conch at the end of 2015, after 6 years as General Manager/Side-kick to Jim Moriarty, Artistic Director of Te Råkau Theatre. Of Samoan and English descent, Sasha was born and raised in Porirua alongside her 8 siblings. With a hunger for performance and debating, Sasha's passion for theatre and its ability to provoke and challenge its audiences has been a long standing passion. Sasha's drive has taken her into working with youth-at-risk in a number of residential care and lock-up facilities, and with homelessness managing the Wellington City Mission's Drop-in centre.

Since beginning with The Conch, Sasha has produced Marama, which premiered for the Auckland Arts Festival, the 9 city National Tour of The White Guitar, and many Conch Youth, Advocacy and Corporate events. Sasha is the Producer for the Conch's latest work The Naked Samoans Do Magic, and looks forward to working on A Boy Called Piano as it links so closely to her work within the community.


We're excited to share this work. The development process is scheduled for June at The Herald Theatre in Auckland

Be part of the development process by following The Conch on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. All links can be found below.


  • A Boy Called Piano Trailer


    "Working with Nina I was able to relate all that pain and feel comfortable in it. It was like working with a family."

    Our latest work is The Boy Called Piano and we're looking for your support for our first initial showing.
    By the creators of The White Guitar.