Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
“We have stories that are ready to be told and travelling to Auckland gives us platforms to tell them”
These were the words of Tagata Mai Saute Dance Academy leader Albany Heperona Seumanutafa Peseta when asked about the current state of performative arts in Christchurch.
With an illustrious career in the Pacific performing arts scene, spanning back almost ten years ago, Albany is no stranger to show business. But with a team made up of a lot of new comers, it was a challenge for him to gel everyone together for the Tagata Mai Sautes group.
Albany and his team travelled to Auckland last week to showcase their stage production performance Lota Nuu. The show was originally set to hit the stage a couple of years back, but due to COVID restrictions this was put on hold.
But with determination and a lot of courage the show was finally rewarded when they performed Lota Nuu in front of family and friends in Christchurch followed by last week’s trip to Auckland.
“It’s definitely been a blessing. It’s also been refreshing that the hard work that the cast and crew have put on they finally get to have a reward where they get to showcase this in a different city”.
“And to be given an opportunity by Troy Tuua and Mangere Arts centre yeah it’s been amazing”.
Cast members Poasa Seiuli and Faith Saimoa shared Albany’s thoughts on the importance of this trip for the group.
“Auckland doesn’t really see, especially down in Christchurch. I don’t think we have ever bought a crew up here. So for them to see that, I feel like they see us now and they know who we are and that’s something I am really proud of” Poasa stated.
Faith added. “Bringing this show to Auckland it’s been a challenge in the sense of there’s never been like a, you have up north and then you have down south and I feel like there’s never been like coming together of that in the physical sense. So being able to collab with people it just feels wholesome”
In its third year since establishment, Tagata Mai Saute dance has been home to nurturing the Samoan culture through many generations in Christchurch.
But for Poasa, it means more than just that.
“This academy it’s huge. It’s um, I get really emotional speaking about it because um, you know um as a pacific islander growing up down there. It’s tough. We don’t like to speak about it but it’s obvious like, it’s tough growing up as a coloured person down there” he said.
“We’ve got beautiful stories just sitting in our back pocket that we need to showcase and you know let the world know”.
“Bringing this show to Auckland its been a challenge in the sense of there’s never been like a, you have up north and then you have down south and I feel like there’s never been like a coming together of that in the physical sense. So being able to collaborate with people it just feels wholesome” Faith added.
The trip to Auckland became a way for Albany and his group to showcase the stories of many Pacific people in Christchurch and the South Island.
“We all know that Auckland set the standard in terms of performance and culture. They live and breathe it. Where in the South Island, we have a lot of kids uh for example who struggle with identity not knowing whether they’re too white to be Samoan or to brown to be palagi” he said.
“And also I guess the events that happened in the South Island as well has also shaped us a city, which has definitely built resilience and for us that has allowed us to tell our own stories in our own way and being proud of it”
Faith also added that she hopes to see more stories from Pacific communities in small towns being told.
“It’s not just for Christchurch it’s for everyone. It’s for Invercagill, Timaru it’s for everybody including the North Island. Like we represent our islands back home”