• Written by: Jamie McCaskill
  • Directed by: Regan Taylor
  • Circa Two
  • 15 September − 13 October

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World Premiere

Jimmy King, the country’s youngest murderer, has been in and out of prison his whole life.

Public enemy number one, Mau Vaiaga has only lived in New Zealand for three months.

An unlikely friendship is struck up as these two men battle their way through the New Zealand justice system while being guided by upcoming lawyer Waimanea Huia.

Directed by Regan Taylor. Starring Kali Kopae, Jamie McCaskill and Natano Keni, Manawa brings a fresh and humorous look at the current NZ justice system. Why do we insist on trying to rehabilitate criminals who are never going to change? What's the public fascination with protecting birds all about?

Presented by TIKAPA Productions.

Presented by arrangement with Playmarket.

Read what Manawa actors Jamie McCaskill, Kali Kopae and Natano Keni have to say about their characters in Circa's blog, drama on the waterfront - here.

Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes (no interval).

Cast and crew

Starring: Jamie McCaskill, Kali Kopae, Natano Keni.

Music composed by Simon Donald.

Show times

15 September − 13 October

Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm

Sunday 4.30pm

Ticket prices

Adult $46

Concessions $38

Friends of Circa (until 27 September) $33

Groups 6+ $39 / Groups 20+ $36

Under 25 $25

$25 Preview Friday, 14 September

$25 Special Sunday, 16 September


Powerful Play Delves Into NZ Heartland

Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, The Dominion Post, 18 September 2012

Two unlikely characters, one a Maori the other a Samoan, are brought together in a prison cell as they await the outcome of the New Zealand justice system to decide their future fate.

The Maori is self-assured 30 something Jimmy King (Jamie McCaskill) who has spent the major part of his adult life in prison. The charges against him are mounting up and the media is having a field day, especially as he was the youngest person ever sent to prison for murder. He has no remorse and is looking forward to going up to Mt Eden as they have a billiard table up there.

The Samoan, Mau Vaiaga (Natano Keni), is a quiet introvert who has only lived in New Zealand for five months and is accused of killing and eating a kakapo, our most endangered species of bird. The media are also having a great time with this case as Mau is going to be made an example of as to why foreigners can't come into NZ and kill off our native birds. But Mau doesn't really have a clue as to what all the fuss is about or the implications of what he has done.

Both are represented by brash and arrogant Maori lawyer Waimanea Huia (Kali Kopae) who has her own agenda with these cases in order to further her own career.

As their lives intersect through many well-constructed scenes, often in flashback, the real heart, or Manawa, of each character is slowly revealed, including the lawyer, albeit rather sketchily. An unlikely bond develops between Jimmy and Mau that turns the obviousness of the outcome of each case on its head.

This is a powerful play, full of raw energy and lots of action, yet it is also full of humanity, even with the recidivist Jimmy, that is often brought out through humour. It is therefore to the credit of Regan Taylors assured direction and the strong cast that they are able to successfully navigate the roller coaster of emotions that is within McCaskill's taut and hard hitting dialogue.

The lovable cockiness of McCaskill's Jimmy, the silent strength of Keni as Mau and Kope as the lawyer Huia that everyone loves to hate, make it a truly exceptional piece of theatre.

Other Reviews

John Smythe, Theatreview

Lynn Freeman, Capital Times

Samuel Philips, The Lumiere Reader


Proudly sponsored by The Maori Development Trust.

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