My intrigue for early colonial history in New Zealand was basically non-existent until last night when I went along to see Kororareka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn, at the Mangere Arts Centre. Like most who went to school in New Zealand, social studies textbooks were where I first learnt about the whalers, sealers and missionaries, of whom were some of the first European settlers. But nothing meaningful was ever drawn from those textbooks to resonate with the sassy teenager that I was in school. What was there for a teenage girl to be excited about? Nazi Germany had Anne Frank, North America had Sacagawea and England had King Henry VIII and his 6 wives. Whereas, unfortunately, the whalers and sealers and the Treaty of Waitangi just didn’t tickle my fancy. There was no enticing personal story that drew me into 17th Century New Zealand history to same affect. In the generation I grew up in, information has become as accessible and consumable as fast food, nothing will really intrigue you or have a profound effect unless there is a strong and personal story to connect and relate to. 

Today, my view of New Zealand’s colonial history is a different story to what it once was. I now have an excitement and new found appreciation for our country’s history after having watched this mesmerising performance. I encourage any social studies teacher who wants to excite their students, to take them to see Kororareka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn. Five strong, witty, and powerful female actresses paint the bittersweet story of a fictional Maggie Flynn. She’s an Irish convict. She’s a whaling ship captain. She doesn’t take shit from anyone – I absolutely love her. Her tale is based on truth, but is cushioned by theatrical spectacle. It has ignited a flame in me that is hungry to know more about the stories of New Zealand’s first European settlers and their relationships with Maori. I’ve only had a taste of the energy and vibrancy of this time period but now I need more!  


What: Kororareka: The Ballad of Maggie Flynn

Who: Written by Paolo Rotondo, directed by Julie Nolan, performed by Victoria Abbott, Amber Curreen, Hinerononui Kingi, Alison Bruce, Katrina George.

When and Where: 





About The Author

Jenanne Burnell

Jenanne enjoys films, theater, and checking out live gigs. Jenanne is also often blunt and says it how it is ✌

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