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Moana, Making Dance Waves on Auckland Scene


Moana a Pacific Dance Showcase

A New Dance Wave Hits Our Shores

Running at the tail end of the Auckland Arts Festival but not part of its official programme is a gem of a show making waves in the dance performance scene. “Moana, a Pacific Dance Showcase,” a presentation of Pacific contemporary fusion dance by Pacific Dance New Zealand running at TAPAC from Wednesday 20th March – Saturday 23rd March. 

“It’s a real mixed-bag of dance from four young choreographers who all have quite different styles, backgrounds and issues that they’re dealing with. But, together it makes for a really great ensemble experience that will leave you lifted.” Explains show producer Sefa Enari.

And, what an ensemble it is. With works by up-and-coming Auckland based choreographers Justin Haiu (New Zealand Dance Company), Tupua Tigafua (New Zealand Dance Company), Charlene Tedrow (Ura Tabu Pacific Dance) and Nita Latu (University of Auckland Dance Studies), Moana is a vision of Auckland and possibly New Zealand’s future direction of contemporary dance. “Pacific inspired but definitely from this place, Auckland. Moana is a reflection of what it means to be a Pacific Islander living in Auckland’s urban environment and still retaining what it means to be a Pacific Islander. Something we all sort of got to take on board – living here,” continues Enari.

Moana in this sense is certainly a showcase of how contemporary Pacific dance has developed over the last few years, a showcasing of works representing a diverse diaspora. It also fits nicely as part of ATEED’s (Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development) new “Pacific As” suite of events designed to highlight and celebrate Auckland’s unique Pacific Island culture, heritage and identity.

“With the reasonably high percentage of Aucklanders of Pacific Island descent and a growing number being born here, many of the issues covered in Moana will be relevant. But, it will also be interesting for other Aucklanders and non-Aucklanders alike to be able to key into what our choreographers are talking about and realize many of these issues are actually universal or shared by quite a number of communities all over the world,” elucidates Enari

The works in “Moana, a Pacific Dance Showcase” talk about identity, urbanisation, spirituality, fantasy, illusion, joy, despair and in the end – hope.

Justin Haiu’s ‘Call to Wallis’ is a work primarily about identity and the search for his Wallis (Uvea) & Futunan ancestry. But it is also urban in its reflection of his life growing up in New Zealand and this is reflected with elements of street dance throughout the piece.

Charlene Tedrow’s work on the other hand is totally immersed in the mythical realm of the islands and draws upon traditions, myths & legends to paint a picture of the world of the aitu (spirits) in her work “Spiritus Aitu.”

Tupua Tigafua follows on within the world of the mythical or fantastic in his work “We Shall See Shel on the Sea Shore.” Presenting a fantasia-like world based on the drawings and writings of Shel Silverstein’s “Giving Tree” (1964). Tigafua’s work is much more about playing with forms and notions within the modern-contemporary dance paradigm (and possibly easier for a foreign audience to understand).

Nita Latu’s work “THE BROKEN TIES,” by contrast is grounded in the hash realities of a Pacific island youth growing up in a world of inequalities, peer pressures, dashed-dreams and the proposition of ending it all. This work is presented in a fusion of street and contemporary dance and moves from this despair and questioning of life to a realisation of hope and pride in oneself - a realisation Latu emphasises should be the natural disposition of this youth.

As an ensemble work, Moana brings together a lovely mix of dance, which is not always accessible in the Auckland scene. And, could be that little spark audiences maybe looking for at this time of year.

As Enari says, “These are wonderful works on their own but together they also create not only a world of their own but an experience which any audience will take much away from. This is an experience I believe many overseas audiences will also be able to key into as well as our own local audiences.”

Moana, a Pacific Dance Showcase is on at TAPAC from Wednesday 20th March to Saturday 23rd March. Shows start at 7:30pm and at the cost of $25 a ticket is certain to be value for money for any dance enthusiast or performance aficionado.

Bookings can be made at TAPAC-

Box office:, ph: (09) 845 02 95 ext.2

Media enquiries to Aaron Taouma Ph: (09) 376 00 60


Written by

Pacific Dance New Zealand

13 Mar 2013

Interests Pacific Dance New Zealand fosters and encourages the development of the Pacific dance sector of New Zealand. We are involved in running dance workshops, conferences, community and professional events promoting Pacific dance in New Zealand.