Dates: 1 – 11 September 2021

Playwright: Campbell Smith

Director: Sue Miller


This play follows the life of Mabel Howard, an early female Trade Unionist and MP, and New Zealand’s first female Cabinet Minister. Mabel was the daughter of Trade Unionist and MP Ted Howard, and was elected to Parliament for Christchurch East in a by-election in February 1943 after her father’s death.

She became a high-profile and sometimes flamboyant Minister in the first Labour government. She won the new electorate of Sydenham in 1946 and held the seat until her retirement in 1969 after the Labour Party introduced a mandatory retirement age. She once rather famously held aloft two pairs of ladies’ undies in Parliament, to demonstrate that standardisation of clothing sizes was necessary.


Evie ComptonYoung Mabel
Paulette McIndoeMiddle Aged Mabel
Sue MortimerElderly Mabel
Alister WilliamsTed Howard, Whip
Amelie HeppleYoung Nell, Mrs Rogers
Victoria WilksMiddle Aged Nell, Vera, MP
Cathrine WestDorrie
Graeme CarruthersPeter, Les, Whip
Ross MillerMC, Paddy, Private Secretary
Blair McLeanLarry, Milton, Party Man
Natalie PlowmanUnion Secretary, Alice, Nurse


DirectorSue Miller
Stage ManagerSally Ratchford
LightingJon Hollingsworth, Colin Clemens
SoundTommy Joass
WardrobeKythie Morris and Sue Miller
HairKythie Morris and Janet Meyler
ArtworkStephanie Drew
Front of House, Box OfficeChris Balm, Fiona Popert and friends of MLT
Set designSue Miller
Set paintingRoss Miller, Bill Robinson
PhotographyRoss Miller
PromptDebbie Williams


Young Mabel and Ted discuss a speech for a forthcoming union meeting in the city square.

L to R: Evie Compton as Young Mabel, Alister Williams as Ted Howard.

Elderly Mabel complains about life in general with her nurse.

L to R: Sue Mortimer as Elderly Mabel, Natalie Plowman as Nurse.

Parliamentary whips discuss Mabel’s future in politics.

L to R: Alister Williams, Graeme Carruthers.

Middle-aged Mabel and her father talk over the progress of the labour movement during their involvement.

L to R: Alister Williams as Ted Howard, Paulette McIndoe as Middle-aged Mabel.

Suffering from dementia, elderly Mabel talks to her imaginary cats.

Sue Mortimer as Elderly Mabel.

Union organiser middle-aged Mabel has lunch on a Wellington construction site with a couple of union members.

L to R: Ross Miller as a Union member, Paulette McIndoe as Middle-aged Mabel, Graeme Carruthers as a Union member.

Middle-aged Mabel collects union fees from Larry while on scaffolding several stories up.

L to R: Blair McLean as Larry, Paulette McIndoe as Middle-aged Mabel.