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Nan and Tuna - A Puppet Show About Eels


Sat 11 Feb 2017, 11:30am–12:15pm
Sat 11 Feb 2017, 2:00pm–2:45pm

Where: Wellington Museum, 3 Jervois Quay, Queens Wharf, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free


Listed by: stringbeanpuppets

An Eel of a Tale at Wellington Museum.

Puppeteer Anna Bailey will be presenting her newest show “Nan and Tuna” for two shows only on Saturday the 11th of February at the Wellington Museum. The show is great for families and is koha entry (or $5 a ticket if booking tickets on the Fringe website).

Nan and tuna have been friends for 70 years and now they both have one last important journey to make. But before they leave they need to find someone to care for the river. Puppets, shadows and water combine to tell the life story of NZs native longfin eel (tuna) who make their homes in our rivers.

This show was originally created in 2016 for Porirua Harbour Trust with funding from the Philipp Foundation and Porirua Creative Communities. After the show, there will be a demonstration and explanation of the puppets involved

Anna discovered puppetry in 2008 while working as an au pair for a family of puppeteers in Italy. Since then she has created many shows and she is a regular busker at the Harbourside market and on Cuba street with Enid, her popular portrait painting puppet. With this puppet and a number of other shows, she has travelled the world and performed in 13 different countries. It was while performing at a puppet festival in Turkey that she saw a puppet show of the “The little Mermaid” performed in a fish tank and the idea for this show began to develop.

Anna has long been fascinated with tuna (NZ native eels). As a child, she used to watch them in her local creek and feed them at Nga Manu bird sanctuary. One day after seeing some older boys eeling she and a friend took a whitebait net and a machete and tried to catch one, thankfully unsuccessfully and with no injury to themselves.

Later, when she learnt more about tuna and their incredible journey she wanted to create a puppet show about eels. In 2016 she came together with the Porirua Harbour Trust and the Philipp Family Foundation, who also wanted to raise awareness about the plight of the tuna. With their support, “Nan and Tuna” was created. “Hopefully” she says “stopping other little girls like me from tormenting eels and instead letting people know that they need our care and protection as much as the kiwi”.

In researching tuna for this show she was continually amazed. The endemic female long finned eel can live up to 100 years in our streams before swimming hundreds of kilometres back to their breeding grounds. Young eels (elvers) are great climbers and can wriggle up 20 metres of rock/concrete.

Migrating adult eels sometimes knot themselves into “eel balls” and roll over dry stretches of ground. Longfin tuna, like great spotted kiwi and kereru, are listed as “chronically threatened and in gradual decline” but while kereru and kiwi are protected tuna continue to be caught commercially.

Anna says that, “I hope that audiences will not only come away with greater knowledge but will also fall in love with the tuna in the same way I have over the course of this project”

A koha show but tickets can also be reserved for $5 on the Fringe website at

Creation supported by Philipp Family Foundation and Porirua Creative Communities and Porirua Harbour Trust and performance by Wellington Museum.


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