Show a Samoan side to Anzac Day
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.’’
Salute: Samson Chan-Boon, left, and Leki Jackson Bourke get into character for Goodbye My Feleni.
Leki Jackson Bourke