Entertainment | Play

Behind the doors of the Crown Lynn pottery factory

New play called “The Handlers” tells the fictionalised stories of wāhine Māori working in factories like Crown Lynn in the 1970s.

A new play showcasing the stories of Māori and tangata moana women working at the Crown Lynn crockery factory will premiere this Friday.

The Handlers is a play about three wāhine Māori who work at the Crown Lynn factory in west Auckland producing china used by most New Zealanders of the era.

Crown Lynn was the dominant pottery manufacturer founded in 1854 until it shut down in 1989.

Director Amber Curreen (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Te Rarawa) said the play showcased the young and old generations coming together to honour the wāhine of Crown Lynn.

“It talks about empowering the women who work in factories. Crown Lynn was one of the most famous factories in New Zealand in the 1950′s through to the 1970s.

“It was difficult for them to travel to these big cities from the pā and come to work here. So yes, we need to empower ourselves through them.”

Celebrating women

She said the Crown Lynn pottery could been seen in many households, including her marae.

“Perhaps you’ve been over to your grandmother’s or grandfather’s house and seen a set of plates, bowls and cups from Crown Lynn.”

Actor Tuakoi Ohia (Ngāti Hine, Mataatua, Tainui, Te Arawa, Te Āti Awa and Ngāi Pākehā) known for her play Kōpū, will be appearing in the play.

“We see the dynamics of the family aspects. The problems between the sisters and the aunties. Overall, it’s a play that celebrates women.”

Curreen says the women look forward to showing their whānau, especially those who family members who had had worked at the factory.

The majority of Crown Lynn’s employees were Māori and tangata moana.

The Crown Lynn factory closed in 1989 due to increased competition from overseas imports

The Handlers is being staged at Te Pou Theatre, 2 Mount Lebanon Lane, Henderson. It opens tonight and runs to Saturday, June 2. Contact for tickets

Crown Lynn Potteries in New Lynn was a major employer of Māori and Pasifika. Source: NZ Herald.