An opera about the exploits of a family of travelers who wreaked havoc in New Zealand in 2019 has angered Kiwis who would sooner forget the sad episode.
The great Nolan clan regularly made headlines – both at home and Down Under – for the time they were in the country and for the chaos they caused.
The members caused chaos on their inbound flight, ate at restaurants without paying their bills, left rubbish on idyllic beaches and threatened locals with violence.
The mere mention of their name brings back angry memories for many. It got so bad that New Zealanders even launched a petition to have the family deported. They were eventually deported by the authorities.
Now an opera in New Zealand is putting the spotlight back on the Liverpool family, sparking outrage from some Kiwis – who would rather never have to think about the Nolans again – without the family even being in the far country.
An opera about the exploits of a family of Travelers who wreaked havoc in New Zealand in 2019 has angered Kiwis, who would rather forget the sad episode
The great Nolan clan regularly made headlines – both at home and Down Under – for the time they spent in the country and the chaos they caused. Pictured: Police officers talk to members of the family in New Zealand
The unruly tourists – the operatic satire about the media frenzy that followed the family across the country – premiered Thursday night in Auckland.
The New Zealand Opera website bills the 2-hour, 15-minute show as a “raw comedy” full of “satire, action and good old-fashioned Kiwi humor intertwined with soaring melodies and captivating choral ensembles.”
It reads: ‘In a story from living memory, a swarm of ill-mannered tourists spread a trail of nonsense, fueled a national obsession, made international headlines and brought the visitors into local courtrooms…’.
But the show was considered controversial before it even opened.
The British director Thomas de Mallet Burgess is seen in New Zealand itself as an unruly Brit, That reports The Times.
Hired in 2019 by the state-sponsored company Opera New Zealand to revitalize it, he himself became addicted to the media’s obsession with the Nolans.
Speaking to the publication, the director said he felt “uneasy” about how the New Zealand public was treating the family, particularly on social media.
Posts on Facebook, he says, “became feverish and some of those comments we actually use on the show itself. They exposed a layer of hatred and racism that became deeply uncomfortable.”
One of those messages in the opera reads ‘p**s off to your trailer trash park’.
While The Unruly Tourists received mostly good reviews last night, Mallet Burgess’ decision to commission the opera led to a number of company board members being fired, including Witi Ihimaera, the country’s first Maori novelist.
At the time, he mentioned his unease about where the company was headed.
It got so bad that New Zealanders even launched a petition to have the Nolans kicked out of the country after accusing them of causing mayhem. They were eventually deported
Pictured: Footage showed a young boy saying to a woman, “I’ll knock your brains out.” This was one of many incidents in 2019 that outraged New Zealanders about the Nolan clan
The infamous group was charged with vandalizing a beach (pictured), leaving a cafe without paying, damaging their apartment and stealing a journalist’s phone during a trip that saw Auckland’s mayor branding them as ” worse than pigs’.
In August 2022, the family made headlines again due to reports that the 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 relative while in New Zealand at the time
The opera’s former music director Lindy Tennent-Brown also resigned, calling the director’s work an “odious” opera and “not kind” to New Zealanders.
“I don’t see how making a work about a bunch of tourists dumping their rubbish in the wrong place and swearing at cameras – I don’t see how that’s interesting or fun for us as New Zealanders,” she told The Times.
The opening comes four years after New Zealanders launched a petition to have the family deported after accusing them of causing chaos.
In an early incident, Aucklanders accused the family of leaving beer bottles and piles of rubbish on a crowded beach, before a child threatened to “punch the brains out” of locals who confronted them (this became the catchphrase of the opera ).
They also alleged that 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, claimed ants or hair found in their food, and insulted staff.
A family member was even charged with fraud, assault with a weapon and reckless driving. Another pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery.
Finally, New Zealand had had enough. At the end of January 2019, they received an eviction notice after an incident of ‘unruly behaviour’ in a Burger King.
This gives them 28 days to leave the country, reports said at the time. Auckland’s mayor declared the family ‘pigs’ and Kiwis took to social media to lash out at the clan.
In August 2022, the family made headlines again due to reports that the patriarch, 29-year-old James Anthony Nolan, had died in the UK.
The extended family of travelers was responsible for a spate of complaints and alleged crimes across New Zealand in 2019
A huge funeral was held for him in Teddington, southwest London, where a silver-gilt carriage was pulled through the streets as mourners followed him.
Nolan himself was charged with assault after allegedly driving his car into a young woman who was filming his family during the incident.
But he never got justice on the allegations, having fled the country using someone else’s passport. A customs officer accidentally let him out of the country aboard a plane, despite an arrest warrant being issued against him.
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 ‘whole holiday’ and had been ‘tortured and sentenced’.