Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

‘Celebrating Polynesia’ at the Civic Theatre with Pacifica The Musical

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Soana Aholelei | Reporter / Director

PACIFICA The Musical is here! The magical chanting of Aotearoa pulses through the Civic theatre in central Auckland as the dancers enter the stage for the opening number.

PACIFICA is a story about love and loss, told through New Zealand pop-songs of the past accompanied with contemporary choreography. The musical headlines artists including La Coco, Ezra Williams (aka Raze) and Irene Folau.

What was once a dream for Auckland based writer and producer Pak Peacoke has come to fruition on stage, and with the help of his Tongan wife Eithne Curran in the wardrobe department, the production is saturated in song, dance, colourful traditional and urban costumes with a splash of glitter.

Famous for his portrayal of ‘Simba’ in the internationally acclaimed production ‘The Lion King’, Samoan Nick Afoa has not only been cast in the musical but will also take on the role of vocal coach.

(L-R) Actors and singers Latoia Sasa-Tepania (La Coco) and Anna Grahame

“After the first day of rehearsals I thought to myself, what am I doing here? And I say that because there’s so much talent here and so much beautiful raw talent.

There’s a story line that is about love, there’s a story line that talks about family and a village and aiga – (Family) coming together. There’s loss, there’s grief, but there’s also a lot of uplifting tones that we have.” says Afoa

Award winning choreographer Hadleigh Pouesi has also infused his expertise into the production. “It’s been an awesome experience to be able to take our rituals that have only really been seen in the Pacific and to be able to fuse them with contemporary modern styles.

There is a sacredness about our movements, there’s a sacredness about our traditions and so, to be able to take those and try and modernise them while still honouring them, our traditions, our Pacific culture, it’s been heavy,” says Pouesi

“It’s all written by New Zealand artists and for me it’s been quite a journey, quite a nostalgic ride, because a lot of the songs were songs that I heard when I was growing up by Nesian Mystik, Annie Crummer,and Brooke Fraser.

Singer songwriter Anasetasia Mackay is embracing the Kiwiana songs in the show.

So, just hearing it all come together somehow all of the songs weave together and it makes sense,” says Mackay

While the journey bringing the musical to life has met with some difficulties, the upside is Pasifika has been involved throughout the journey bringing it to the stage. A new experience for many of the cast and crew.

Nick Afoa says, “there’s been challenges and it happens when you do something for the first time.  There’s a lot of unknown and so, I’ve learnt a lot about trusting the process. I’ve learnt a lot about trusting myself as a creative person and who’s supposed to be a director and I’m also learning so much about the talent we have.” 

Hadleigh Pouesi agrees. “ We get to take over the Civic theatre, New Zealand’s biggest theatre! And we’re bringing all of our Pacific culture with us. You’re going to see the colours of the Pacific, you’re going to see the music of the Pacific, the movement of the Pacific, and to celebrate what it really means to be from Polynesia.”

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