Wheel of Experience

Written and performed by David Ward, Peter Daubé and Dave Khan
Memorial Square New Lynn
1 & 2 September 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm.

This September the acclaimed Wheel Of Experience will return for a 2 day installation in New Lynn’s Memorial Square. Confronted with an incongruously ramshackle tent-shack, the public will be invited to step inside to emerge inside a uniquely intimate performance space.

There they will meet three musicians who look to have stepped straight from 1800’s NZ and experience songs that paint the lives of New Zealand’s wild colonial past, including the original ‘Westie’ Don Buck and the doomed arrival of migrants at Cornwallis. The focus of the set is a large spinning wheel, inscribed with symbols. The wheel is spun and where it lands determines the song sung, the story told.

Led by Peter Daubé’s (King Skinny, The Crucible) powerful vocals and commanding theatrical presence, the music morphs with each unfolding story, as brilliant multi-instrumentalists David Ward (Guru of Chai, Kiss The Fish) and Dave Khan (Marlon Williams,The Bads) shift rhythm, pace and texture. Each song is a journey unto itself as the performers move from haunting ballad, to wailing sea shanty, from blistering bluegrass to pounding blues.

Each story is approximately 10mins long, whereupon the audience can stay to spin again or move on through and out. They are left with something outside their normal experience – like the remnants of a dream or another life: music in their ears, earthy odours in their nostrils, and vivid New Zealand stories imprinted in their imagination.

“Wheel of Experience offers a unique performance, combining theatre, song and history. Our board is pleased to help bring them to New Lynn. Come out and see them – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed,” says Whau Local Board Chair Tracy Mulholland.

Since its first incarnation in the 2011 Random Acts Festival, In 2014 Wheel of Experience toured the entire length of NZ, and enjoyed a successful season at Q theatre. From town halls to theatres to opera houses, Wheel Of Experience has received unanimous praise:

“Neither musical nor theatrical experiences come any more astonishing than the Wheel of Experience. You hear about good performers bringing songs to life, but in this case, the songs seem to give birth to the performers.” – Nick Bollinger

 “Will haunt me for days…you can hear a collective sigh after each piece finishes”
– Vivienne Quinn, Theatreview

“Dave Ward, Dave Kahn and Peter Daube have composed a musical taonga that should not only be enjoyed but also seriously discussed and listened to…. a national theatrical treasure.”
– Tamati Patuwai, Theatreview   

“The fact that these are all original compositions showcases the amount of skill and talent that these men possess, making music that just sinks into your bones with a sense of timelessness.”
-Ingrid Grenar, Keeping Up With NZ    

Find out more here:


Confession is based on the real and erudite confession of Dick Burgess and the murders for profit he and his gang committed against Otago gold diggers. As a young boy, having been arrested, shipped and flogged for misdemeanors, he vowed he’d “…take a life for every lash”. His last words at the gallows were: “I’ve got no more fear of death than going to a wedding.”

We Did Seal
We Did Seal is based on the fate of a band of sealers, who in 1810 were left on a remote NZ island with their 10,000 skins and abandoned when their ship was wrecked, never to return. With an axe, an adze and a knife they set about cutting a path back to civilisation.

A Hundred Trees
In 1900 workers and their families from all over the world arrived on the NZ volcanic plateau. It was winter, raining, 12 families to one tent. They were enticed here by the promise of employment on the Raurimu Spiral on the main trunk line. Gambling was rife, cocktails of whisky, meths and cough mixture helped to ease the hardship. In a world where people strive to get ahead, it tells a story of high stakes and betrayal.

Don Buck
Don Buck pays tribute to the legend of larger than life Portuguese entrepreneur Francesco Rodriguez Figuera, described as the original ‘Westie’, who, with the blessing of the authorities, ruled an indentured criminal workforce and often debauched shantytown in West Auckland.

Sunrise is inspired by the settlers at Cornwallis, who after months at sea, arrived to find that their promised utopian community didn’t exist. This is an epic painting of a couple’s need for survival in a new, harsh and ultimately unforgiving world. It tells a story of separation and sacrifice, of people risking everything just to exist.

Joe Kum Yung: In The Shadow Of The Golden Mountain
In 1905, Lionel Terry walked 900 miles to promote his book The Shadow, a book containing his racially separatist beliefs. Gaining little traction from words alone, he gunned down Kum Yung, an old Chinese man in Haining St, Wellington. At the same time an old Chinese man walks the crippling journey day after day, just to pay off his poll tax.

Philbert McKetney
With help from the audience, we do honour to the famous race caller and bookie Philbert McKetney, who infamously burned down multiple calling boxes in his time.

Amy Bock
The most notorious confidence tricksters this country has known goes by the name of Amy Bock. Tired of hustling men, she underwent her greatest transformation, becoming Percy Carol Redwood. She married Agnes Ottoway in 1909 but was arrested 3 days later.

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