Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

Adam NZ Play Award 2017

D.F. Mamea - image by Philip Merry
Samoan chicken lays golden egg for playwright.


PLAYMARKET is pleased to announce the ADAM NZ PLAY AWARD winner for 2017: D. F. Mamea for his third play Still Life with Chickens. Mamea also received the award for Best Play by a Pasifika Writer.

The Adam NZ Play Award recognises and celebrates the best in new unproduced writing for the theatre. Director of Playmarket Murray Lynch announced the win at Circa Theatre on 1 April 2017 alongside three other special award winners.

Mama is a Samoan woman in her 80s who tends her garden every day. Her children and grandchildren don’t visit often enough and her contemporaries are dropping like flies. When she first meets a chicken things don’t go well, but as the seasons come and go, Mama and Chicken come to an arrangement and Mama has someone who will listen to everything she has to say without judgement or question.

Judges described the play as ‘deceptively small scale and domestic to begin with, [but] it balloons into a bona fide full-on tragedy; Mama slowly transforms from an unremarkable nana into a tower of strength and courage.’ ‘It is full of delicious detail, funny, heart wrenching and intensely moving. It is a work unmistakably growing right out of New Zealand soil; distinctly Samoan but with absolutely universal appeal.’

D.F. Mamea is based in Whangarei and has worked on film, television, theatre and radio projects in genres ranging from sci-fi to soap, comedy to horror, and documentary to drama. In 2013, his first play, Goodbye My Feleni, won the New Zealand Writers Guild SWANZ Award for Best Play and the Adam Award for Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright. He won the Adam Award for best Play by a Pasifika writer for the second time for his next play, Kingswood.

Dr Lori Leigh, lecturer in Theatre and playwriting at Victoria University of Wellington was named Runner Up for her play Uneasy Dreams and Other Things, a play she calls ‘externalised existence with pop music inspired by Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis’. Judges described the play as a very funny, very clever, startling, wild ride and completely theatrical in every way.

Playwright, poet and broadcaster Maraea Rakururaku (Ngāti Kahungungu, Tūhoe) and winner of the 2016 Adam NZ Play Award, received this year’s award for Best Play by a Māori Writer for Te Papakāinga, a sprawling epic set in the Eastern Bay of Plenty that exposes a small community where nothing is secret but the whole fabric of that community is tested severely.

Highly Commended was awarded to Sam Brooks for his political thriller Burn Her.

The Adam NZ Play Award, now in its tenth year, is the only one of its kind for new writing. Playmarket’s only entrance requirements are that the playwright be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and that the play has not yet had a production.

The award is generously funded by the Adam Foundation. Playmarket is also very grateful for the support of Circa Theatre, and major funders: Foundation North and Creative New Zealand.



D.F. Mamea for Still Life with Chickens

Runner-up: Lori Leigh for Uneasy Dreams and Other Things

Best Play by a Māori Playwright: Maraea Rakuraku for Te Papakāinga

Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright: D.F. Mamea for Still Life with Chickens

Highly Commended: Sam Brooks for Burn Her

Other Finalists:

The Taiaha and the Sabre by Geoff Allen

Spirit House by Carl Bland

Paratiho by Nick Brown and the cast

The Caravan by Kathryn Burnett

Teka or Tika by Noa Campbell

Death of a Dream by Richard De Luca

The Go-Between by Adam Gooddall

Sing to Me by Alex Lodge

Modern Girls in Bed by Alex Lodge and Cherie Jacobson

Cellfish by Miriama McDowell, Rob Mokaraka and Jason Te Kare

Flame by Greg McGee

The Gearbox by Joe Musaphia

Before the Next Teardrop Falls by Dean Parker

The Rookie by Julianne Parkinson

Cannibal by Finnius Teppett


Further information: 



Contact details: 
For more information contact Salesi Le’ota - Playmarket Client Promotion +64 4 382 8462 ext 2

Written by


3 Apr 2017

Interests New Zealand Playwrights’ Agent. Advisor. Bookshop.