Character Descriptions

Find out more about each character in the show. Feel like you could play that role? You can apply here!

Click to expand each character description and hear the audio track for a sample of the performances.
Wiremu Hiroki

Wiremu is a young Maori man who is on the run for murdering a Pakeha surveyor who was camping on his land. His only hope is to take refuge in Parihaka. But Parihaka is a pacifist community – will they welcome a violent criminal like Wiremu? Wiremu’s key connection in our story is with Arihia who is a member of the Parihaka community and takes it on herself to reform him.

This is a significant lead role. The actor needs to be able portray Wiremu’s hot-headedness (he is a man of utu when we first meet him), yet also draw the audience in as we follow his story.

This role would suit someone with a strong tenor voice, aged somewhere between 18 and 35. Wiremu sings in, ‘A Message to Mr Grey’, ‘E To Matou’, and joins with others in Under the Mountain and Bracken’s Dream.

Samuel Crombie Brown

Crombie Brown is a newspaper reporter who is strongly pro-Maori. He defies the government and risks everything to make an eye witness account of the Parihaka invasion. If he’s successful, the world will discover what really happened. But if justice fails, will he be able to deal with his anger?

Crombie Brown appears briefly as an old man looking back, then significantly as a younger man through whom we discover much of the story. He’s married to Maria and they have children.

Someone aged between 35 and 55 would suit this role. It’s a significant lead role and requires a good singer/actor, with a voice in the Baritone – Tenor range. Crombie Brown sings ‘Breaking Point’ at the end of Act One, and Roulette and Masquerade in Act Two. These songs include thoughtful and sad moments, angry outbursts and some energetic and frantic moments.


A compassionate Maori woman who represents all the good qualities of Parihaka. She notices Wiremu when he arrives and takes it on herself to reform him in line with the faith and pacifism of the Parihaka people. But when you invest that much in someone, what will it require of you?

This is a major lead role with significant acting and solo singing. The central message of the show is found in Arihia’s song, Choose Your Side. This role would suit an Alto-Mezzo aged between 18 and 40.

Maria Annie Brown

Maria is married to Samuel and they have children. She is Sam’s rock. She was drawn to him for his commitment to truth and justice regardless of consequence. But now she has a family to care for and her earlier idealism is wearing off.

This lead role involves significant acting and solo singing, and would suit a mezzo aged 35-55. Maria’s key songs are Portent, Roulette and Masquerade.


Orphaned as a child, Mikaere was brought to Parihaka by Te Whiti when it was founded. Mikaere is considered a potential leader. He meets Wiremu at the beginning of the story and is a key figure throughout.

This role requires significant acting and singing. Songs include ‘Under the Mountain part one’, ‘A Message to Mr Grey’, ‘Who Will Lead Us’, and various lead lines in group songs. It would suit a tenor or high baritone aged between 18 and 35.

Mary Brown

Mary is the eldest daughter of Sam and Maria. She is full of youthful idealism and strong willed. Her character asks why the world is like it is, and she still believes her father can change it.

Her key song is Lyttelton’s News and she has lead lines in various other songs. The role requires a good singer/actress with a mezzo or soprano range, aged between 14 and 25.

Te Whiti O Rongomai

Te Whiti is an educated, innovative Maori leader of great mana and devotion to the Christian faith. He is a renowned preacher/orator and people come from far afield to hear him. He is Parihaka’s key spokesman to the outside world and co-leads Parihaka with Tohu.

This role needs someone with a big dramatic voice who commands the attention of the room. A good singing voice would be a bonus but most important is the acting. His speeches (‘Today we stand, for flight is death…’) are powerful moments in the story. It would suit some aged 40-60.

John Bryce

A cruel Scottish-born politician with a reputation for getting things done by fair means or foul. He is made, ‘Minister of the Natives’ at a crucial moment in the story. Bryce is charged with ‘fixing the West Coast Problem’, which he does by leading the invasion of Parihaka.

This role includes some solo singing lines (Baritone or Tenor) but majors on acting. Bryce needs a commanding presence; his stand off with Te Whiti needs to look like a battle of equals.

Tohu Kakahi

Tohu co-leads Parihaka with Te Whiti and is similarly a man of great mana. However he engages people through his spiritual authority and relationality more than oratory. Tohu has more singing to do than Te Whiti.

Huxley, Smith, Murdoch & Major Tuke

These are men of authority who are used to barking orders at others. They would suit men aged 40-60. While these characters have some solo singing lines (particularly in the soldier march), the key emphasis is on the acting.

Huxley is particularly brutal and intimidating. He begins as a Surveyor, but signs as an army volunteer because he is so angry over the death of fellow surveyor McLean. Smith is also intimidating while Murdoch is a little more reasonable.

Hikurangi and Wairangi

These two are known as ‘the sisters’, and are married to Te Whiti and Tohu respectively. Both roles require good acting and singing with a number of solo lines. Hikurangi is an alto. Wairangi could be alto or mezzo.

George Humphries

George is a fellow reporter with Sam and the two work together. George is younger and looks up to Sam as a mentor. They do a good number of scenes together and George has a reasonable amount of singing. Where Sam is courageous and unflinching, George is more tentative and uncertain. He is interested in Crombie Brown’s daughter Mary, but Mary is strong willed and not always impressed with Humphries.

Humphries has plenty to sing and sits in the high baritone-tenor range. He doesn’t have as many lines as Sam, but does a lot of reacting, in his various scenes. He sings Out of Step Part One, and has a number of solo lines and high harmony lines in other songs. This role would suit someone aged 20-35.

Note: Someone auditioning for this part would likely also suit the role of two key soldiers – Wilson and O’Leary, who feature significantly in a couple of scenes and have some solo singing lines.

Young Maori Girl

We’re looking for a young girl with a nice singing voice to sing the song Traveller/Manuhiri and act particularly in the invasion scene, where children give bread to the soldiers. Age 6-11.

Obnoxious Waitress

With an East End accent and a devil may care attitude, this barmaid sounds pretty racist to our ears, yet was simply expressing the common pakeha view of the day. Needs an over the top personality. Her key song is ‘Out of Step part two’, which is in the mezzo range. She could be aged anywhere from 22 to 55.

Mr and Mrs Birtwistle

This is a comic relief couple. They believe they are the upper crust and are very keen for ‘the colonies’ to have the same class structure as Mother England. Mrs Birtwistle has a a savage tongue, and Mr Birtwistle is a bit of a duffer, slow to comprehend the obvious, and not quite measuring up to her expectations. They sing a song together. Mid range voices work well.