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He Pūranga | Past Projects

Public Works

Undertow, January 2017


The trenches | Public Works 2017 Photo by Aneta Pond
Character Fleur | Public Works 2017 Photo by Aneta Pond
Ngā manu | Public Works 2017 Photo by Aneta Pond
Soldiers and nurses | Public Works 2017 Photo by Aneta Pond

Theatre Marae as live performance

In 2017, Te Rākau presented the premier season of Helen Pearse-Otene’s Public Works at Soundings Theatre in Te Whanaganui-a-Tara (Wellington), New Zealand.

1918 and home calls to our boys in No Man’s Land 

- the space in between, where anything is possible - 

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.  

Dumb, black bastards stuck in the mud. 

Theirs’ or someone else’s, it’s all the same.

From the wet and reeking trenches of Passchendaele, the ghosts of home torment our boys on the frontline. The Allied troops have abandoned the Belgian battleground, leaving cousins Hamuera Kenning and Will Meier to rot in the mud with only their memories for company. 


Hamuera, a sapper in the Pioneer Battalion, wrestles with a dark secret he has hidden away in the mud of No Man’s Land while Will, a corporal in the Wellington Mounted Regiment, is looking for any way to get home to Te Miti.

The Undertow

The Ragged was presented as Chapter 1 of a quartet of plays called The Undertow, in an epic repertory theatre event at Te Papa Tongarewa.

The quartet explores our bi-cultural history and significant events in Aotearoa New Zealand through the eyes of six generations of one family.


While themselves works of fiction, the plays are deeply researched and rooted in the history and the sentiments of the times in which they are set.


All four chapters of The Undertow were filmed by professional cinematographers to create digital theatre recordings. Find out more about The Undertow and access the recordings here.



You can get your own copy of The Ragged and all the plays in the Undertow series, or watch the television series online.  


If you have stories, profiles, photos or interviews from this production, get in touch.


19 Jan 2017

The Wellingtonista

18 jan 2017

The Dominion Post

24 JAN 2017

Pantograph Punch

Get in touch

To find out more about our live performance and Theatre Marae programmes, get in touch using our contact page.

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