Te Waka Huia Productions

Te Waka Huia

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In 1963 a bus returning from Waitangi Day celebrations crashed on the Brynderwyn Hills killing 15 people.  It remains New Zealand's worst road accident.

Many of the victims were from Helensville, north west of Auckland. For over half a century the story has remained in the shadows. 

The play Te Waka Huia is a modern day love story that shines a light on the grief that still exists, and hopes to heal some of the lingering hurt.

Please watch our short two minute video and hear what one whanau member felt when she attended the first public reading.


We need your help to cover the costs of a tour of Auckland and Northland, loosely following the route of the original bus journey from Waitangi to Helensville.

We hope through the tour to gather collective memories of the accident and present the play to audiences who don't often to get to see theatre of this calibre.

Director: Chris Molloy 
Playwright: Naomi Bartley 
Dramaturge:  Murray Edmond
Cast:  Chye-Ling Huang, Junior Misimoa, Isaac Te Reina & Retts Van Dam.

Please follow us on Facebook to keep up with our tour news and find out where you can book tickets to this important piece of new theatre. 

"There's no place like home. But if everyone leaves and the place is empty … is it still home then?"


  • Producer's Postscript


    Kia ora friends and whānau,

    As our final performance of this six week tour came to an end in Helensville on Saturday night, I was struck again by the incredible sense of honour I feel to be entrusted with bringing this story to Northland and Auckland audiences.

    Memories of the Brynderwyn bus tragedy sit very close for many in our community and my sincere hope is that Te Waka Huia will serve as a respectful acknowledgement of the pain and loss still deeply felt. We hope also that this play has made people laugh together and embrace the importance of belonging and standing together in community.

    Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa.

    Thank you to all who have made this tour possible. Our incredible cast and crew. Our sponsors and those who have generously contributed in many ways. And to our audiences whose overwhelming response has made all the hard work worthwhile.

    Aroha mai Aroha atu.

    Naomi Bartley, Playwright & Producer

    Producer's Postscript
  • On The Road To Northland


    We have now completed our two Auckland seasons of Te Waka Huia and have been overwhelmed with the response. Nothing pleases an actor more than to hear both laughter and sniffles coming from an audience! After each performance many people stayed back to share their own memories and stories about the Brynderwyn crash. Others, who knew nothing about it, went away determined to learn more and all said they would tell friends and family they HAVE to book tickets to see this play!

    We are now gearing up for our first road trip to Maungaturoto, Rawene and Kerikeri: four performances at three venues in three days, hundreds of kms apart! It's going to be a buzz!

    After the success of these first shows, and seeing the impact that it has had on so many people, we are even more committed to ensuring as many people as possible get the chance to come along. We can only do this with your support so thank you for joining us on the journey.

    Please remember to share our tour dates with your friends and whanau in Northland, so they too can join in the Te Waka Huia journey.

    Sept 15 - Otamatea Repertory Theatre, Maungaturoto
    Sept 16 - Rawene Hall, Rawene
    Sept 17 - Turner Centre, Kerikeri
    Sept 22-23 Company of Giants Theatre, Whangarei
    Sept 28-30 Kaipara College, Helensville

    Tickets are available through iTICKET https://www.iticket.co.nz/go-to/te-waka-huia-tour

    For Kerikeri, book tickets direct from http://www.turnercentre.co.nz/


    On The Road To Northland
  • Media Coverage Steps Up


    We're less than a week from Opening Night and rehearsals are in full swing. The media machine is also starting to pick up.

    Stuff have published this extensive article, featuring an interview with a whanau member who lost four generations of her family.


    And our playwright Naomi Bartley and director Chris Molloy have just been into Radio NZ studios in Auckalnd to pre-record an interview with RNZ National's arts show Standing Room Only.

    Set a reminder on your phone and tune in just after the midday news on Sunday (13 August).


    And thank-you to everyone who has donated so far! We're at 10% of our target - let's hope this great media coverage will translate into more donations. ;)

    Media Coverage Steps Up