Rose Kirkup

The Pohutukawa Tree


Performance Design

Following graduating, Rose returned to Toi Whakaari to design costumes and the set of Rachel House‘s interpretation of Bruce Mason‘s poignant work The Pohutukawa Tree.

The Pohutukawa Tree by one of New Zealand’s iconic playwrights is set in the 1950s New Zealand, a country on the cusp of change. A proud and spiritual Maori matriarch, Aroha attempts to instruct her children in Pakeha ways. But the post-war world of the 1950s has arrived and she is left increasingly isolated as everything she loves and stands for comes under siege.

This version also featured one of New Zealand’s first Audio Described performances, initiated by Production Manager Sarah Adams.

“In Rose Kirkup’s setting the central issue of land in the play is powerfully emphasized with a vast bare stage edged with fallen Pohutukawa flowers. At the back are the bare hills, now devoid of totara and thick bush that, as one of the Pakeha proudly says, took just two generations to make look like rolling English countryside. Aroha’s Pohutukawa tree is suggested by a beam of light and falling flowers.” Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post

“The actors sit on chairs down either side of the performance space behind red strips of shredded Pohutukawa flowers… the titular Pohutukawa tree and the dripping of shredded red ‘flowers’ from above is an excellent visual metaphor.” John Smythe, Theatreview

20 – 30 October 2010
Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre,
11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington


Jonathan Kenyon:   Roy McDowell / Tola Newbery:   Rev Athol Sedgwick / James Tito:   Johnny Mataira / Moana Ete:   Aroha Mataira / Richard Osborne:   Dr. Lomas / Melissa Reeve:   Mrs. Atkinson / Bianca Seinafo:   Queenie Mataira / Helen Grant:   Sylvia Atkinson / Robert Hartley:   Claude Johnson / Chelsea Bognuda:   Mrs. Johnson/ Sergeant Robinson / Phillip Ward:   Clive Atkinson/ Justin Hurst*:  George Rawlings

*Victoria University


Director:   Rachel House /Set and Costume Designer:   Rose Kirkup /Lighting Designer:   Morgan Whitfield / Sound Designer:   Alana Kelly /Production Manager:   Sarah Adams / Stage Manager:   Eleanor Cooke / Deputy Stage Manager:   Sophie Dowson / Set Construction Manager:   Richard Child / Props Master:   Amber Maxwell / Costume Supervisor:   Samantha Bell / Lighting Assistant & Operator:   Karena Letham / Sound Assistant & Operator:   Roslyn Craig / Assistant Stage Manager:   Joseph Mahoney

Set Build/ Show Crew:   Matt Eller / Set Build/ Show Crew:   Tessa Alderton / Props Assistant / Show Crew:   Nicola Smith / Props Assistant/Show Crew:   Hamish Baxter-Broad /Costumiers:   Brighde Penn / Oliver Black / Charlotte Baptist / Sophie Tucker / Lisa Doherty / Amanda McBride / Cara Louise Waretini / Design Assistants:   Helen Boebel / Susan Douthett / Rachel Hilliar / Nina Smith-Stevens / Lucy Stone / Theo Wijnsma / Violet Wilson-Baird / Audio Description:   Erina Daniels /Waiata and haka composer:   Tweedie Waititi /Wedding song by Tweedie Waititi / Tama Waipara

Rose Kirkup
Rose Kirkup
Rose Kirkup