'Haka Party Incident' relives forgotten controversy

By Mare Haimona-Riki

The Haka Party Incident looks back at a day in history when a group of engineering students prepared to do their annual “mock” haka as part of capping stunts.

Violence erupted when they were confronted by Māori student activist group, He Taua.

At the time, the incident was controversial and covered widely by New Zealand media but, more recently, few younger people have heard of it.

“It seemed to me to be very significant," playwright Katie Wolfe says.

"The story always stuck with me, so when I was given the opportunity to write a play for the Auckland Theatre Company,  I knew that that would be the kaupapa,” she says.

The Haka Party Incident cast. Supplied / Andi Crown.

Wolfe says she didn’t know much about the incident until she read Ranginui Walker's book, Ka whawhai tonu mātou.

“There was very little written about it. So I started by contacting the people who were there that day.”

“I originally met with Hone and Hilda Harawira here in Auckland and I spoke to them about their memories of the day and then went on to finding some of the engineers.”

The Haka Party Incident premieres tonight at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau.