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Dark tale told at Waikato Museum

3 April 2018

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A haunting play, depicting an event etched into the minds of those it touched 25 years ago, returns to Hamilton for a season at Waikato Museum.

She Danced on a Friday, written and performed by Nicola Pauling, tells the tragic true story of Margery Hopegood. The play premiered at The Meteor Theatre last year to critical and popular acclaim.

On a sunny January Friday afternoon, Margery was murdered just a few hundred metres from where her story will be portrayed in Waikato Museum’s theatre.

The news reports of the crime captured hearts and minds across the country. For the first time, Margery was coming home to New Zealand, the country of her birth where she had been adopted 31 years earlier.

This wasn’t just an OE, this was a pilgrimage. She had been in the country just four days when her life was taken.

Operation Hopegood lasted five weeks before an arrest was made. It was the first time DNA-matching technology was used in New Zealand in a criminal case.

She Danced on a Friday is based on research and interviews with Margery’s birth parents and adopted family, the police, and former city officials. Pauling has an intimately personal connection to the story as the granddaughter of the woman Margery was on her way to see the day she was killed.

Fairfield Rotary is supporting the performances, and the proceeds from two gala shows will go towards Victim Support.

“Fairfield Rotary is delighted to support this project,” says Club President Les Robertson.

“In addition to raising money for Victim Support, performances for schools are an important part of the season. These will give young Hamiltonians the opportunity to contemplate a tragic moment in our city’s past and the opportunity to view quality live theatre.”

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says: “Waikato Museum exists to tell the stories of our region, even dark ones such as this. Nicola handles the details delicately in this moving tribute to Margery.”


She Danced on a Friday: The Birth and Death of Margery Hopegood:

At Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato
Sponsored by Rotary Club of Fairfield the $35 shows includes a complimentary refreshment on arrival.

Click here for a high-resolution image.



Dan Silverton
Waikato Museum Partnerships and Communications Manager
07 838 6956
021 056 9810