Show a Samoan side to An­zac Day

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ADRIAN EVANS

An­zac Day has taken on a whole new mean­ing for two young ac­tors.

South Auck­land-raised Leki Jack­son Bourke and Sam­son Chan-Boon ad­mit they knew very lit­tle about the na­tional day of re­mem­brance.

But their roles in Good­bye My Fe­leni, a play about Pasi­fika sol­diers who served with the 28th (Maori) Bat­tal­ion in World War II, have changed that.

‘‘I was com­pletely obliv­i­ous,’’ says Sam­son, who plays Semi Bishop, a Cook Is­land man about to go for war.

‘‘Just be­ing a part of this project makes me re­alise that our fore­fa­thers fought for this coun­try so it makes you want to pay homage and that brings re­spect to the piece.’’

Good­bye My Fe­leni is set in 1942 and takes place at Tren­tham Army Camp in Welling­ton where the men are be­ing put through their paces.

In D ‘‘Ngati Walk­a­bout’’ Com­pany the youth­ful con­fi­dence of three young Pasi­fika sol­diers is shaken by the last-minute re­place­ment of their lieu­tenant.

‘‘The thing I like about this play is it gets really per­sonal with the characters so you get to know what they’re like,’’ Jack­son Bourke says.

‘‘The characters are only 18 to 20 years old, their lives have just be­gun and it’s their last day in New Zealand be­fore they go to war so it’s quite emo­tional and you get to see the other side of be­ing a sol­dier, not just the big staunch guy.’’

Samoan play­wright David Mamea says he wrote the play af­ter lis­ten­ing to a Maori Bat­tal­ion CD.

‘‘I heard some­one talk­ing in Samoan in­tro­duc­ing two Samoan songs. Some­thing pulled right away at my heart, that 70 years ear­lier and half­way around the world, four young Pasi­fika men sang of their home­lands and their fears, and risked their lives for the world we have to­day. I knew I had to write some­thing about that.’’

And paying trib­ute to the

for- got­ten faces is what it’s all about, Jack­son Bourke says.

‘‘The involvement of Poly­ne­sian men isn’t talked about or cel­e­brated as widely but I think it’s a big thing.

‘‘An­zac Day means more to me now. It means a lot to heaps of peo­ple but the fact that we have one day to re­mem­ber them is huge.’’

Photo: ADRIAN EVANS

Salute: Sam­son Chan-Boon, left, and Leki Jack­son Bourke get into char­ac­ter for Good­bye My Fe­leni.

Leki Jack­son Bourke

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