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Daniel Mateo – from ‘A New Dawn – ‘Aho’eitu’

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Daniel Mateo – from ‘A New Dawn – ‘Aho’eitu’

Radio New Zealand Interview with Daniel Mateo

Recording courtesy of Radio New Zealand.

Daniel Mateo is a 20 year old Gamilaraay descendant from Northern NSW, Australia as well as a descendant from Ma’ufanga, Tonga. Daniel studied at NAISDA Dance College and is now a contemporary dancer, performing with Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Daniel dances in Sisi’uno Helu’s ‘A New Dawn’ a dance depiction of the story of ‘Aho’eitu, the son of Tangaloa. The work explores the preparation of a journey into the unknown of a young Tongan prince named ‘Aho’eitu to meet his Father – the ancient God Tangaloa who lived in the sky.

Click above to listen to the interview.

Click here to watch ‘A New Dawn’ at our Pacific Dance Festival Channel.

Sisi’uno Helu

My passion for preserving our culture is immeasurable. Our stories, our music, our dance and language are things that occupy my thinking and imagination a lot. There are no words that can encompass this. I wish to continue to create platforms and places where the knowledge, stories and history can be protected and stored.

This work here, “New dawn- ‘Aho’eitu” explores the preparation of a journey into the unknown of a young Tongan prince named ‘Aho’eitu to meet his Father – an ancient God Tangaloa – who lived in the sky. This dance delves into what is both a leaping and courageous journey that this young man is about to embark on.

I went back to Tonga, after graduating from the Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane, in Australia. At 22 years old, I was made Director for ‘Atenisi Foundation for Performing Arts, (AFPA) at my father’s school, ‘Atenisi Institute. AFPA performed classical anthems, European opera and Tongan music and dance. At the end of 1996, AFPA started touring continuously until 2002. The tours were to New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, California and Utah in the US and also to Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. The group also hosted goodwill visits to high schools in Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai islands.

My interest in filmmaking and storytelling started from a young age with my brother’s vhs video camera, making home videos. In 2006, I offered to help in the making of the documentary film TONGAN ARK by New Zealand filmmaker Paul Janman. This documentary looked at the last years of my father’s life and his school. In 2015, I was given another opportunity to work with filmmaker Jay Tauamiti on a few Tongan myths and this led to the founding of the Nuku’alofa Film Festival.

The music played at my home when growing up was diverse, from Opera, Spanish music, Symphonies, to Queen Salote III, Malukava and dancing. I find myself again and again to be very lucky to have had this upbringing. 

‘Ofa atu

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