Congratulations Keneti Muaiava!

8 06 2011

The final event in the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit was the launch of the 2011 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme, delivered by Pacific Dance New Zealand with support from DANZ and Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Committee.

BIG congratulations to Keneti Muaiava, the recipient of this year’s residency!

MP Su’a William Sio, Filoi Vaila’au (Pacific Dance New Zealand) and Keneti Muaiava

Guest speaker, Mangere MP Su’a William Sio



Makerita Urale, Senior Programme Adviser – Pacific Arts Portfolio, Creative New Zealand


Makerita Urale (Creative New Zealand), MP Su’a William Sio, Keneti Muaiava and Susan Jordan (DANZ)

The PDNZ documentary team, Aaron Taouma + Popo Lilo

Ema Tavola (Auckland Council) and Mangere MP Su’a William Sio

Pacific Dance New Zealand in association with DANZ, Auckland Council and Creative New Zealand are calling for dancers to take part in the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme 2011.

This exciting eight-week dance residency is offered to an established New Zealand based dancer, dance choreographer or a director of Pacific Island descent with a proven track record of working in a community and or professional theatre context.

This year’s Pacific Dance Artist in Residence, Keneti Muaiava, is a master dancer specialising in Samoan dance. He is the co-founder for Vision Cultural Movement; an organisation that specialises in the maintenance of Samoan heritage arts & culture in Aotearoa.

The residency programme runs between Saturday 4June and Saturday 30 July 2011.

Keneti’s residency project is called “Past, Present and Future” and is centred around the teaching and development of three distinct Samoan dance styles whereby community dancers will have the opportunity to imbue themselves in the concepts and culture behind the movements while also exploring contextual elements making the dances both “authentic and relevant.”

This is a great opportunity for dancers from a variety of backgrounds to learn the Samoan dance styles of the Sasa, Fa’ataupati (slap dance) and ma’ulu’ulu (action dance) from a master teacher (tofuga) such as Keneti.

The residency will also allow for experimentation in the dance forms once the basic heritage form is learnt and will culminate in a final showing at the Metro Theatre on Saturday 30 July.

Dancers will partake in workshops for three days a week (three hours per day) but are not expected to have any prior knowledge of the dance forms, although this would help in the learning phases.

For registration and enquiries please email auckland@pacificdance.co.nz or phone Filoi Vaila’au on 09 370 0487.





“Kingdom of Lote” from a Samoan perspective

8 06 2011

I stepped off the plane in Auckland, was greeted at the airport by my girl Ema Tavola and promptly told that that night we would be watching a Tongan play called Kingdom of Lote. I was mildly intrigued. Like most Samoans, and having grown up in Hawaii, I can honestly say that I have “lots of Tongan friends” and consider myself quite fluent in the diverse PI world, but a play about Tongans? This was something completely new. I was prepared for the familiar Tongan references: meals featuring some form of domesticated quadruped (usually horse, possibly dog, but not cat), an unnatural obsession with rock wall-ing, infinite kava circles, and more than a few gold teeth. I was not disappointed. Add to that, though, a cast of unforgettable characters, a beautiful score, the most spatially intimate theatrical experience I’ve ever had, and you have Kingdom of Lote – the poignant story of Lote, the head of her small kingdom, which includes her brother Krak and teenage twins, Saia and Sela – a family balancing the demands of Tonga, and Tongan-ness, in current day Aotearoa.

Now, remember, I’m Samoan, so my idea of a great night out has never included taking in a bit of Tongan theater. That said, though, even I could not escape the charm and subtle brilliance that Kingdom of Lote, at its very core, is.

Much of the dialogue is delivered in Tongan, my favorite being the scene where Lote has a conversation with a nosey neighbor—in rapid-fire Tongan and at the top of their lungs. The unapologetic use of the Tongan language, and by extension the inclusion of traditional Tongan songs, works on so many levels: it identifies the primary audience, privileging those lucky enough to understand and speak Tongan. And it places that experience within the context of Pacific life so that someone like me, who may not understand Tongan, can easily identify with it because I’ve had nosey neighbors as well (except mine are mostly Samoan).

Woven amidst the drama of Saia’s burgeoning rugby career, Sela’s unsolicited political pontifications and Krak lamenting on wasted opportunities, is what I thought was the soul of this story: one woman’s drive to keep her family together. Lote represents the Pacific Everywoman, as comfortable in the kitchen as she is on the rugby sideline, as driven as she is humble, as skilled at picking up the pieces as she is at throwing down.

Kingdom of Lote is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of family, shared through the voices, lives and songs of Tongans, but it is also, to its credit, a Pacific tale. For me, Uncle Krak might be Uncle Junior, touchdowns replace tries, and I’ll take turkey tail over horse any day, but when it’s all said and done, these are simply details. The power in this story is that it brings us back to family, whether you call it aiga, famili, or whanau, and that’s something we all identify with.

Dionne Fonoti
May 2011

Dionne Fonoti was they keynote speaker at the Curating Pacific Art Forum, an event in the Pacific Arts Summit delivered in partnership with AUT University on Saturday 21 May. Fonoti is a Samoan academic and film maker based in Apia.





Thank you Joris de Bres!

8 06 2011





D.A.N.C.E. Papakura!

8 06 2011

Papakura Art Gallery manager, Tracey Williams reflects on the D.A.N.C.E. Art Club performance programmed to coincide with Sheyne Tuffery’s solo exhibition, The Ancient Mariners.

Auckland based artists collective D.A.N.C.E. (Distinguished All Night Community Entertainers) presented a one-off performance for the Pacific Arts Summit at Papakura Art Gallery on May 21 in response to Sheyne Tuffery’s show The Ancient Mariners currently on show at the gallery.

Tuffery’s show, also part of the Pacific Arts Summit, is his response to recently becoming a Matai (Samoan chief). The artist said being given the title made him look at Polynesian history afresh, particularly the “incredible seafaring of our Ancestors”.

D.A.N.C.E. picked up on Tuffery’s themes of nautical antiquity when developing their work for the Summit, leading to the building of a symbolic vaka/waka, which they paraded from the water at Prince Edward Park, through the main street of Papakura, then on to the gallery in Averill Street.

Papakura came under the authority of the Auckland Council about six months ago. The area, accessed via the last off ramp on the Southern motorway, is located on the shores of the Pahurehure Inlet, approximately 32 kilometres south of Auckland’s CBD. Many locals resisted the idea of joining the super city, wanting to retain its distinct rural/urban identity. The D.A.N.C.E. event served to symbolically claim this space within the new city structure – as an addition to South Auckland and its dense Pasifika influences.

The action of steering the vaka/waka from the water’s edge through the main street also served as an allegory for the navigation of shared spaces by different cultures – particularly looking to history when Pacifika people first arrived in New Zealand.  Elam postgraduate student Debbie Stenzel who joined in the parade described this in detail:

It seems that whenever I participate in a performance piece, I experience something profound.  Something that cannot come from any other source or be learned any other way – perhaps some type of inner continuum switch that is only activated by the collective sharing of an experience? 

While walking in procession behind the waka and crew, I began to question my own place within today’s multi-cultural society. My thoughts seemed as if they were being echoed by the waka’s journey as it was forced to veer around obstacles, lower itself to avoid collision and to walk confidently when it’s right of way was questioned. 

 

While observing the waka’s difficulty navigating the modern landscape, I noticed that people were watching us – not just a quick glance or an inquisitive look, they were staring, some with mouths agape in some kind of peculiar reenactment of the colonial gaze. It was at this point I started to feel very self conscious, a touch embarrassed, that through their behaviour we had been relegated to the status of a modern day ethnographic curiosity. Perhaps parallel to the recreation of a Pacific Island peoples past journey, a modern immigrant experience of Aotearoa was inadvertently performed? In that moment I felt that time had changed very little.

When we reached about half way along Great South Road, there was a noticeable shift in energy. I don’t know where it came from or how to describe it other than those feelings of not belonging, or of being observed, dissipated – giving way to a feeling of oneness or acceptance. As we turned into Averill Street, an overwhelming sense of purpose seemed to clear the way forward and the waka led us ashore to the gallery doors where we shared the warmth of music, food and ourselves as we celebrated our journey together on a purposeful autumn morning.

D.A.N.C.E. – consisting of  visual artists Chris Fitzgerald, Ahilapalapa Rands, Linda.T and Maila Urale – facilitates art gatherings whereby boundaries are blurred between creative disciplines and social engagement is the key focus. Events by the collective are art installations that incorporate themed music, food, refreshments and entertainment – with the aim of encouraging audience participation as a way of making art accessible to a wider audience.


Tuffery, based in Petone, is a multi-media visual artist who works primarily in painting, moving image and printmaking. He is perhaps best known for the dynamic style of his prints and woodcuts, describing himself as ‘a paper architect who uses his work to create and represent his own cultural context and sense of belonging’. Tuffery’s prints and paintings often envisage Polynesia as a futuristic urban utopia; with the Samoan fale as the symbolic archetype for skyscrapers, apartment housing and rocket ships (vaka) – reflecting the artist’s research into his Samoan heritage and symbolism.


Vinaka vakalevu Sheyne, D.A.N.C.E. Art Club and Tracey and the team at Papakura Art Gallery!





Friday night Summit movies

8 06 2011


The film component of the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit was Square Eyes, a film evening presented by Leilani Kake at Manukau Institute of Technology’s newly formed Faculty of Creative Arts premises, the Manukau School of Visual Arts.

We took the opportunity to screen some of the videos that have been made for the Pacific Arts Summit by South Auckland-based Samoan film maker, Tanu Gago.

The screening of Dan Taulapapa McMullin‘s documentary, Ula: The Garland was the feature of the evening. Although a work in progress, this important piece of Pacific art history documents interviews with a huge range of Pacific creative practitioners from the US, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Aotearoa.

The trailer from Ula: The Garland – a work in progress

Congratulations Leilani and all the young film makers who had their work shown for Square Eyes and vinaka vakalevu to Manukau Institute of Technology and students for their support!





Gary Lee on gorgeousness

4 06 2011

Gary Lee discusses his solo exhibition, gorgeousness at Fresh Gallery Otara with Samoan film maker, Tanu Gago. gorgeosness runs until 25 June 2011.