Playwright Mei-Lin Te Puea Hansen's poetic study of the mingling of Chinese and Maori heritage presents a compelling challenge to the stark black and whites that have dominated the officially sanctioned bicultural version of New Zealand history.
At the heart of the drama is a timely message on how cross-cultural interaction poses a threat to the oppressive power structures of identity-based communities ruled by tradition.
A young Chinese immigrant played with engaging charm by Yoson An sees expansive possibilities opening up in his adopted home but faces accusations of disloyalty to his own culture. The dilemma is given a powerful moral dimension through a wife from an arranged marriage who has stayed in the home country.
As the abandoned wife, Chye-Ling Huang movingly gives voice to the resigned anguish of a character who remains invisible to other members of the cast.
The collision of cultures provides plenty of opportunities for humour and Charles Chan offers a hilarious, unforgettable portrait of a Chinese patriarch slowly softening in his belligerent defence of Chinese values.
His warm-hearted mocking of the trembling hand gesture that accompanies waiata provides a comic highlight in a show that often had the theatre rocking with laughter.
Despite giving voice to the worse excesses of anti-Asian racism, Kip Chapman wins sympathy as a Pakeha settler who has lost all connection to the home country but remains ill-at ease in the new world.
Waimihi Hotere and Awhina-Rose Henare Ashby breathe life into hard-case Maori women living on the margins of a rapidly changing world.