An opera about the exploits of a family of Travellers who wreaked havoc across New Zealand in 2019 has angered Kiwis who would sooner forget the sorry episode.
The large Nolan clan made regular headlines – both back at home and Down Under – for the time they were in the country and over the chaos they caused.
Its members caused chaos on their inbound flight, would eat at restaurants without paying their bills, leave litter across idyllic beaches and threaten locals with violence.
The mere mention of their name brings back angry memories for many. Things got so bad, New Zealanders even launched a petition to have the family kicked out of the country. They were eventually deported by authorities.
Now, an opera in New Zealand is putting the family from Liverpool back in the spotlight, outraging some Kiwis – who would rather never have to think about the Nolans again – without the family even being in the far-flung country.
An opera about the exploits of a family of Travellers who wreaked havoc across New Zealand in 2019 has angered Kiwis who would sooner forget the sorry episode
The large Nolan clan made regular headlines – both back at home and Down Under – for the time they were in the country and the chaos they caused. Pictured: Police officer are seen talking the members of the family in New Zealand
The Unruly Tourists – the operatic satire about the media frenzy that followed the family across the country – opened in Auckland on Thursday night.
The New Zealand Opera website bills the 2 hour 15 minute show as a ‘raucous comedy’ full of ‘satire, action and good old-fashioned Kiwi humour intertwined with soaring melodies and riveting chorus ensembles’.
It says: ‘In a tale from living memory, a flock of badly-behaved tourists spread a trail of rubbish, fuel a national obsession, make international headlines and land the visitors in local courtrooms… .’
But the show was considered controversial before it even opened.
UK director Thomas de Mallet Burgess is regarded in New Zealand as unruly Brit himself, The Times reports.
He was hired in 2019 by the state-sponsored Opera New Zealand company to give it new energy, and became hooked himself on the media’s obsession with the Nolans.
Speaking to the publication, the director said he became ‘uncomfortable’ with how the New Zealand public treated the family, especially on social media.
Posts on Facebook, he says, ‘reached fever pitch and some of those comments we actually use in the show itself. They uncovered a layer of hatred, racism that became deeply uncomfortable.’
One such post featured in the opera reads ‘p**s off to your trailer trash park’.
While The Unruly Tourists opened to mostly good reviews last night, Mallet Burgess’s decision to commission the opera triggered several resignations from the company’s board members, including Witi Ihimaera, the nation’s first Maori novelist.
At the time, he cited his unease over where the company was heading.
Things got so bad, New Zealanders even launched a petition to have the Nolans kicked out of the country after accusing them of causing chaos. They were eventually deported
Pictured: Footage showed a young boy telling a woman: ‘I’ll knock your brains out’. This was one of many incidents in 2019 that outraged New Zealanders in relation to the Nolan clan
The infamous group were accused of trashing a beach (pictured), leaving a cafe without paying, damaging their apartment and allegedly stealing a journalist’s phone in a trip which saw the Mayor of Auckland label them ‘worse than pigs’
In August 2022, the family hit the headlines again due to reports that its patriarch, 29-year-old James Anthony Nolan (pictured), had died in the UK. Tributes from his family poured in on social media, and a huge funeral service was held for him in London
James Nolan is pictured, right, with a family member while in New Zealand at the time
The opera’s former director of music, Lindy Tennent-Brown, also resigned, calling the director’s work an ‘odious’ opera and ‘not nice’ for New Zealanders.
‘I don’t see how producing a work about some bunch of tourists dumping their rubbish in the wrong place and swearing at cameras – I don’t see how that’s interesting or nice for us as New Zealanders,’ she told The Times.
Its opening comes four years after New Zealanders launched a petition to have the family kicked out of the country after accusing them of causing chaos.
In one early incident, Auckland locals accused the family of leaving leaving beer bottles and piles of rubbish on a busy beach, before a child threatened to ‘knock the brains out’ of locals who confronted them (this became the opera’s tagline).
They also claimed the family – who became known as the ‘unruly tourists’ – left a cafe without paying, damaged their rented apartment and stole a journalist’s phone.
Numerous reports said they left restaurants without paying, claiming the found ants or hair in their food, and became abusive towards staff.
One family member was even accused of fraud, assault with a weapon and reckless driving. Another pleaded guilty to two counts of theft.
Finally, New Zealand had enough. In late January 2019, after an incident of ‘unruly behaviour’ in a Burger King, they were issue with a deportation notice.
This have them 28 days to leave the country, reports said at the time. Auckland’s mayor declared the family ‘pigs’ and Kiwis used social media to hit out at the clan.
In August 2022, the family hit the headlines again due to reports that its patriarch, 29-year-old James Anthony Nolan, had died in the UK.
The extended traveller family were responsible for a wave of complaints and alleged crimes across New Zealand in 2019
A huge funeral was held for him in Teddington, south west London, which saw a silver gilded carriage drawn through the streets as mourners followed in its path.
Nolan himself was accused of assault after allegedly driving his car at a young woman who filmed his family during the incident.
But he was never saw justice over the allegations, having escaped the country by using another person’s passport. A customs officer mistakenly allowed him to board a plane out of the country, despite there being a warrant out for his arrest.
Despite all the chaos and reports, on their return to the UK, the Nolan family sensationally claimed they were the victims and moaned that they had had a ‘holiday from hell’ and had been ‘tortured and condemned’.
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