Nick Kemplen, Cam West and Pete Coate star in Maungatapu which is crowdfunding for a tour of the region. Photo: Supplied.

Fundraising for murder, mayhem and betrayal


The year is 1866 and New Zealand’s most infamous murder is about to take place.

Fast forward almost 150 years and the story of Maungatapu is soon to be immortalised on the stage at the Nelson Arts Festival.

Conceived by local playwright Justin Eade, the story is based on the confessions of gang leader Richard Burgess after five men were murdered on the Maungatapu track.

Eade says he is excited about the prospect of putting on a full production of the play after it running as a piece in development at last year’s festival.

“I’m really happy with where it’s at. It will likely be tweaked again when we are in rehearsals but overall I think it will come together really well.”

After feedback from last year’s reading of the play at the arts festival, the play has expanded from its initial two person cast into four – made up of Cam West, Nick Kemplen, Pete Coate and Daniel Allan.

Eade says the plan is to tour the play around the region after the arts festival, but they need to fundraise to make that a reality.

They have started a Boosted campaign to raise $6000 for the shows which will travel to Murchison, Picton, Blenheim, Takaka and Havelock in November.

“There are quite a few costs involved and it’s to make sure everything is looked after to create a really strong show.”

To help the show, search for “Maungatapu” on

All funds raised will go towards accommodation, food and transport cost for the tour.

“We have written, tested and developed. We have begged, borrowed and bartered. But sometimes only actual money will do. We need your help to take our story on the road.”

Maungatapu premieres at the Nelson Arts Festival on October 16 and 17.