Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

‘Aua e te tagi’ nurtures the next generation of talent through dance and music

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Grace Fiavaai | Reporter

The annual Pacific Dance Festival of 2024 has commenced, bringing artists together to celebrate and honour the beauty of Pacific dance and culture.

One of those with a new offering is musician and composer Matatumua Dr Opeloge Ah Sam, who is also the current head of music at Marcellin college in Auckland.

Matatumua recently returned to Auckland from Northland and shares his latest creation ‘Aua e te tagi’, a work he’s produced by utilising the talents of the students from his school.

It showcases the talent of eight dancers and five musicians and includes original compositions and dance performances. 

Among the lead dancers are 11-year-old Carolena Ah Sam, Portia Meredith-Naumia – who is currently competing in the Siva Afi finals in Hawaii – and Grace Collins, a remarkable young dancer and Head Girl at Marcellin College. 

Additionally, Matatumua’s 12-year-old son Noah, plays the drums.

“Aua e te Tagi” is more than a performance; it is a journey,” Matatumua says. 

“We may all work our own individual journeys but in the end we need the people around us who love and care for us too.” 

He also believes that teaching his students is one thing but if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing at all.

“When I work with my students there’s an important element of joy and having a part of it.”

And he says he and his students have even choreographed a whole scene together.

“Just working through it and sharing ideas, knowing that they also have a lot to give.

“It is really important that I don’t just tell them what to do, I give them a chance to share what they can do as well.” 

Matatumua has worked as a music lecturer, mentor and Pasifika Music Co-ordinator at the NZ School of Music at Victoria and Massey Universities in Wellington.

He composed the first ever original Samoan Opera both in English and Samoan which premiered in 2005. 

Aua e te tagi is choreographed by Opeloge and the dancers with support and mentoring from Leki Jackson-Bourke, Maddie Hale and Elodie d’Anglejan (one of Opeloge’s past students from Kristin School). 

‘Aua e te Tagi’ plays at The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) on June 9 and at the Turner Centre, Kerikeri, on June 13.



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