Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pasifika and Māori monologues take centre stage at Koanga Festival

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Kendall Vano | Reporter

The festival, known for its celebration of indigenous storytelling, promises to be a whirlwind of emotions and thought-provoking tales.

Niuean writer and co-director of the popular Tongan TV series “Brutal Lives,” Vela Manusaute, is set to perform live at the upcoming Koanga Festival in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Vela’s monologue, titled “No Love, Only Tears,” delves deep into his past, exploring the intricate web of his relationship with his father.

“Our relationship was never the best, and it didn’t end well between us,” Vela shared.

“So, I’ve poured my thoughts and feelings into words.”

Vela on set with lead actor Joe Folau. Photo: Retrieved from Coconet.

The heartfelt narrative reflects the turbulent times when Vela and his father couldn’t see eye to eye. “I remember crying in my room after disagreements,” Vela recalled.

“Now, it’s all down on paper, a reflection on him.”

But the impact of their strained relationship lingers. “It still affects me to this day,”

Vela admitted, emphasising how it shaped his identity.

“This monologue aims to inspire young people, showing them the power of words and storytelling. Writing can heal wounds; it’s my healing, and it can be theirs too.”

ONO. Photo: Circa Theatre.

Amidst the festival’s rich offerings, “ONO” takes centre stage with its debut presentation at Circa Theatre.

Crafted by six Māori and Pasifika playwrights, including Vela Manusaute, “ONO” weaves tales of love, family, and self-discovery in various ways.

From embracing our bodies to unravelling the mysteries of sisters, from dealing with lost and loveless fathers to enduring family struggles, these narratives will touch the heart of humanity itself.

Koanga Festival, an annual celebration of indigenous storytelling, will take place at Te Pou Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau on September 15th.

It marks a return to in-person gatherings after a hiatus since 2019, and festival director Amber Curreen can’t contain her excitement.

“It’s a time to celebrate new stories and our incredible storytellers,” she says.

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