Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 7. September 24, 1942
V.U.C. at Sea
V.U.C. at Sea
The crew of the ships had been at sea a year without any substantial leave, constantly on watch and patrol. Their spacious old liner was fitted with a concert loom, in which they used to entertain themselves with concerts or an occasional film. Their airmen passengers found, life a pleasure on board—clean quarters, good food, friendly crew; and access to all parts of the ship—and consequently decided to give a concert on the last night out. They set to work. I finished up as Stage Manager, of course. We wrote out acts, songs, and various matter. An amazing array of talent appeared. Unfortunately, the New Zealand fellows, rather stage-shy, held off. All of us, being perfectly amateur, were doubtful whether our home-made acts would go over. Wrote out a Hitler-Mussolini travesty and persuaded a couple who fitted the part to act it out.
After some persuasion the New Zealand boys agreed to do a little bit—to give a haka—so wrote them some. This was the day before the show. Then, at the last minute; they learnt the actions, rehearsed songs, then, to cap it all, procured rope ends and make piupius, and had me moko them with grease paint.
Just before the show was due to start, some of the ship's petty officers came, and marked the front row "Reserved." Just before curtain up our boys observed with horror that the row was filled with the ship's big men—rows and rows of braid!
Now it was do or die! Up went the curtain and off we went: "Wings Over the Navy" (the F.A.A. song) and so on. It worked. In two acts we had the captain and all the rest in fits of luaghter (as intended). Things went from strength to strength. Our amateurs, having set the ball rolling, let themselves go with smashing effect. Near the end came the New Zealand act. The announcer said, "Now some of these Maoris are going to give an act: just watch it. It's terrible!" Up went the curtain; the savages sprang to life. The effect was stupendous. I don't think these Englishmen realised that the British Empire contained anything like this. If anything, their haka was fiercer than the original: it brought the house down—in fact, nearly sank it, when they all jumped.
Was it a success! If there were any U-boats about, they must have reported a hail of depth charges.