Pacific Dance New Zealand (PDNZ) was formed in 2010 and is located at 147 Great North Road, Grey Lynn in Auckland. It is a development organisation delivering a wide range of services for the Pacific dance sector of New Zealand. The organisation is governed by the Pacific Islands Dance Fono Trust.

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme is an exciting dance residency offered to an established dancer, choreographer or a director of Pacific Islands descent with a proven track record of working in a community and or professional theatre context. It is an annual event which started in 2009. Past artists have included: Steve Laufilitoga Maka (Uvea), Justin Haiu (Youth dance), Tuiahai Tuiafitu (Tonga), Julia Grey (Nesian dance) in Auckland as well as Tuaine Robati (Cook Islands) and Tupe Lualua (Samoa) in Wellington. The residency allows senior dance artists to work in a community to deliver dance forms and share their skills with local communities.






Pacific Dance New Zealand has selected its Artist in Residence for 2021, West Auckland resident and Fijian heritage choreographer and artist Alipate Traill.

The primary audience for our 2021 residency will be children, notwithstanding our usual audiences.  Children will immerse themselves in the experience and wisdom from Traill in Fijian dance, language, values and knowledge that will strengthen their foundations in culture.

Born and raised in Fiji and attesting his knowledge and skills in Fijian itaukei culture to his Bubu Savaira, Alipate has spent his life totally immersed in showcasing Fijian culture, history and stories through the performing arts.  Studying in Hawaii at the Brigham Young University in Political Science, Alipate refined and extended those skills with costuming, theatre and culture presentation skills at the renown Polynesian Centre.

Alipate says “Modern day Fijian kids in the urban centres of Fiji are experiencing a major loss of culture. I hope to inspire them to turn it around and take action as they are there in the motherland where cultural knowledge and resources are abundant.”

Aotearoa is home now for our artist and his young family and he has continued his passion for the performing arts with the establishment of the Te Mana Academy.  It is through this platform he inspires the young to learn about their Fijian identity to embrace it, be proud of it and love it.  The academy has grown in strength in the last few years from its base out at the Corbans Estate and today Alipate and the academy holds workshops and performances throughout Tamaki Makaurau, motivating, inspiring and uplifting young New Zealand born children and their families to celebrate and showcase their beautiful and unique Fijian heritage.

One cannot be oblivious to the changing cultural landscape with migration, media, education and society where richly diverse cultural and familial traditions and the intergenerational wisdom that is imbedded in them are disappearing.  The residency will teach children to feel the rhythm and beat of Fijian ‘Meke’ and to feel joy and pride in who they are.  The immersive workshops and performances will show them to embrace the oral traditions of storytelling through dance and performance and develop a respect not only for their unique culture but also for one another.

‘I hope to raise awareness that it is important for our children to have a firm grounding in their cultural heritage. With the onslaught of social media and so many other negative influences, our children are suffocating with info overload and the pressures to mimic what they perceive is reality is often false portrayals of life. Having a foundation of cultural knowledge and values will empower them to decipher reality from fiction making them strong, confident and proud. Dance is my medium for conveying this message to the younger ones, hence my theme “ HONOURING THE PAST – PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE”  says Alipate.

During the 10-week residency the artist will engage and network with community, primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary dance schools in both Auckland and Wellington.

During Fijian Language Week, Albert Traill and performers from the Te Mana academy will be at The Auckland Central Library for dance and storytelling workshops in addition to a display of Fijian costume, art and artifacts on the ground floor.

The residency will launch on Tuesday 27th July 2021 at the Youthline Centre in Papatoetoe which signifies Te Mana extending its reach out into the community in South Auckland.  The residency will conclude during Fiji Language Week on Friday 8th October, with a free evening show and the public and community will be invited to celebrate.

The residency will be delivered at both Youthline Manukau and Pacifica Arts Centre and is supported by Creative New Zealand, Foundation North, Massey-Henderson Local Board and  Auckland Council.

Vinaka Vaka levu.


Pacific Dance NZ Artist in Residence Program:

Week Commencing 26th July:

Free Public Workshops at Manukau Youthline,  Papatoetoe

Tuesdays: 6-8pm

Free Public Workshops at Pacifica Arts Centre, Henderson

Wednesdays: 6-8pm

Registrations recommended. Click FREE Registration.

Tuesday 27th July, 4.30pm:

Papatoetoe Youthline, 4.30 – 5.30pm: LAUNCH (Closed Event)

6– 8pm Dance Workshop (FREE)

Saturday 2nd October, 11am – 1pm:

Auckland Central Library Dance & Costume Workshop (FREE)

Fiji Language Week: 3rd – 9th October, 2021

Thursday 7th October: 6-7.30pm , Auckland Central Public Library, Talanoa

Friday 8th October: 6-8pm , Artist in Residence Final Public Show (FREE)


For media enquiries please contact

Kelly Geater at Elephant Publicity


Phone: +64 27 254 4094


For PDNZ enquiries, please contact

Joanna Bourke at Pacific Dance NZ


Phone: + 64 21 356515





2020 Artist in Residence Closing Event with Molia Alama Tulafono

Saturday 3rd October 2020

The closing event and showing of our 2020 Artist in Residence Program was an evening of joyful celebration also marking an end to the 2020 Tuvalu Language Week.  In attendance was the Hon. Minister Aupito William Sio, Minister of Pacific Peoples with distinguished guests representing the Auckland Tuvalu community.

Click here to read more 


2020 Artist in Residence Molia Alama Tulafono


‘Hold Fast Your Paddles’ Developing leadership, resilience and creativity through dance

Pacific Dance New Zealand celebrates its 10th Anniversary by announcing Auckland resident and Tuvaluan heritage dance choreographer and creative, Molia Alama Tulafono as its Artist in Residence for 2020.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Artist in Residency program and the inclusion of a heritage artist hailing from Tuvalu the 4th smallest nation in the world that is battling its own adversities, is significant not just for Pacific Dance New Zealand but also the strong patriotic Tuvaluan community here in Aotearoa.

Molia grew up in Tuvalu and was introduced to fatele dancing at a very young age and has been involved with dancing for over 25 years.  Dancing for her started in her Fale ote Kaiga (in the family home) and she observed and learnt the basic dance forms in the fale through her aunts.  She also learnt at the faleumu (working/cooking hut) the practicalities of the dance artforms, including lakei (costuming), kupu o fatele (fatele lyrics) choreography and movement and performed in the falekaupule (island meeting house).  In Aotearoa through the ‘Nukulaelae Fenua’ (Island Community) Molia acquired advanced training and cultural understanding through dance from traditional knowledge holders.

‘Sautalaga a Tautai – Ke mau tau foe!’ has provided inspiration for the residency and highlights the importance of stimulating and strengthening dialogue between Tuvaluans, notably connecting elders, youth and Aotearoa born and raised generation.  It is through this dialogue where stories are captured and explored that provides more than just the warm-fuzzies.  It  is enriching, enabling and builds strong knowledge-holders and future leaders.

‘We tell our stories through the art of dancing, and we empower our young people to embrace their language, culture and heritage.  We develop creative, confident and resilient leaders through the art of dance and costume making. The vision is to continue to invest in our cultural dance practices and progress into prominent leadership to identify and address issues and be a beacon of light for our future .’ says Molia.


During the 6-week residency, the artist has selected and incorporated unique themes: The Laeva effect (a concept that empowers people to strive for the best), Te Alofa (weaving strands of love), Te Niu Fakamauganiu (climate change using coconut shells to convey stories and message), Taku Fatele (Cultural instruments and storytelling), Tou Fou (garland and fatele) and Te Fenua (the final showcase).  These themes will cover myths and legends, dance costumes and the art of dancing ‘fatele’.   Inherent in the residency is homage to Tuvalu at the forefront of climate change.

The artist will engage and network with community, primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary dance schools in both Auckland and Wellington.

As a proud Henderson resident for over 25 years, it is only befitting that the Residency be hosted in West Auckland.  A strong Tuvaluan community live in West Auckland and the residency provides an insight into the dance and art spaces that will encourage engagement amongst elders and youth.

Molia will kick off her residency on Saturday 22nd August at the Auckland Central City Library with a costume-making workshop followed by a launch at Te Manawa that evening. The residency will conclude during Tuvalu Language Week on Friday 2nd October, with a free evening show and the public and community are invited to celebrate all things Tuvaluan and experience how truly patriotic her people are in keeping their language and culture present and active in the fast-paced and ever-evolving world we live in.

The residency will be delivered at Te Manawa in Westgate and is supported by Creative New Zealand, Foundation North, Massey-Henderson Local Board and  Auckland Council.

The public are invited to attend the FREE community workshops and are guaranteed of being able to leave the residency with not only knowledge and dance but with their own costume piece that they will make during the 6 week journey.

Pacific Dance NZ Artist in Residence Program:

Saturday 22nd August:

Auckland Central City Library, 1-3 pm: Dance & Costume Workshop (FREE)

Opening and Launch, Te Manawa, 6-8 pm – Closed Event

Week Commencing 24th August:

Free Public Workshops at Te Manawa, Westgate

Mondays: 5pm – 7.30pm. & Thursdays: 5 – 9pm

Registrations recommended. Click Link to register.

Tuvalu Language Week: 27th September – 3rd October 2020

Friday 2nd October: 6-8 pm, Artist in Residence Final Public Show (FREE)



For media enquiries please contact

Nicolette Catherine at Elephant Publicity


Phone: +64 22 528 2146


For PDNZ enquiries, please contact

Joanna Bourke at Pacific Dance NZ


Phone: + 64 21 356515


The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme is an exciting dance residency offered to an established dancer, choreographer or a director of Pacific Islands descent with a proven track record of working in a community and or professional theatre context. It is an annual event which started in 2009. Past artists have included: Steve Laufilitoga Maka (Uvea), Justin Haiu (Youth dance), Tuiahai Tuiafitu (Tonga), Julia Grey (Nesian dance) in Auckland as well as Tuaine Robati (Cook Islands) and Tupe Lualua (Samoa) in Wellington. The residency allows senior dance artists to work in a community to deliver dance forms and share their skills with local communities.

The 2019 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence


Fijian resident dance company RAKO PASEFIKA have a busy schedule when they touch down in Auckland in 3 weeks time.  Their arrival is well timed to coincide with Rotuman Language Week (13th – 19th May) and the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival (5th – 23rd June 2019).  

Previous Artists in Residence programs have featured solo practitioners and for the first time we will have a trio for this popular annual feature on the Pacific Dance New Zealand calendar.  Creative associate and senior artist Samuela Taukave and two principal dancers Emily Marie and Iane Tavo will grace our Auckland dance studios as our Artists in Residence for 2019.  

RAKO PASEFIKA which was founded in 2007 has grown from strength to strength performing in Fiji and touring internationally with its most recent shows at the Sydney Opera House and the BluesFest in Byron Bay.  

RAKO PASEFIKA’S work is focused on uniting Rotuman people through dance and music and sharing their love of life and the progress of their people which is an ever-present theme in their works.   They continue to mould the outlook and experiences of Rotumans through different art forms that have been born out of their desires to preserve their culture and language that sits on the UNESCO list of endangered languages.  

Samuela Taukave shares with Pacific Dance his motivation for the upcoming programming; “RAKO PASEFIKA is proud to be the 2019 Pacific Dance New Zealand Artists in Residence.    Our spiritual commitment to each other and our creations have allowed RAKO PASEFIKA to progress and evolve over the years through a very organic process with strong family values as our foundation.    Part of our quest as Rotuman and Pacific artists is to gain more insight, depth and knowledge of our heritage, with a focus on creative liberty and the recapture and revival of ancient art forms and stories, but with the freedom to create new work without boundaries.  We look forward to the mutual sharing of culture, mana and love for the Arts with our NZ kaunohoga (Family).”

RAKO PASEFIKA’S schedule for May & June is as follows;


  • Week Commencing: 20th May – 16th June 2019
    • FREE Public Workshops at Te Oro, Glen Innes.
      • Monday 4pm – 6pm
      • Thursday 4pm – 6pm
      • Saturday 2-4pm
  • Wednesday 5th June, 6pm, ASB Waterfront Theatre: Pacific Dance Festival 2019 Opening and Launch,
  • Monday 17th June, 5pm, Te Oro, Glen Innes, Artist in Residence Showing during the Pacific Dance Festival.

In addition to their completely FREE public community programs, they will visit and command young audiences in a number of primary and secondary schools throughout Auckland.  

RAKO Pasefika will close off their residency with a public show during the Pacific Dance Festival at Te Oro on Monday 17th June.  The trio will be capitalizing on their short visit here to Aotearoa, and we invite you to participate and experience in one or all of the creative workshops that will impart not just dance but energy and innovation fresh and direct from the Pacific.

This residency is provided FREE to the public and communities with funding assistance from Creative New Zealand.

Registrations for the free public workshops to






The 2018 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is

Uvean born

Steev Laufilitoga Maka

Steev Laufilitoga Maka is a master dance artist with over a quarter of a century’s experience within the professional Pacific region arts and culture sectors including seventeen-years with ‘Pacifique et Compagnie New Caledonian Theatre Company and School’, and eight-years working with Tongan based Pacific arts initiative ‘On The Spot’. Steev continues;

“I grew up in New Caledonia but originally I am from Uvea and I am one-hundred percent Uvean and Futunan. I have a background in theatre and acting but I am very excited to have this opportunity to share what I know about my own culture and connect to other cultures and communities here in Aotearoa. It is not just about me sharing what I know but about making and extending that connection especially within the special mix I see here in Glen Innes.”

Steev will take up the eight-week residency in Glen Innes from Monday 13 August – Saturday 6 October. Steev will work with 150 children from Pt England Primary School, youth from the local Ruapotaka Marae as well as delivering public classes at Te Oro. You can register for workshops at the Te Oro Website at this address


Pacific Dance NZ is proud to announce this year’s Pacific Dance Artist in Residence – Julia Mage’au Gray.

Growing up in an environment which encouraged performance and a sense of pride in one’s heritage, Gray has spent her career spreading this ethos to the members of Sunameke, the performance group she co- founded in Adelaide in 1997. From its origins as a four-piece, Sunameke has since grown and changed in number and lineup and has spawned many productions which have been showcased in both Australia and New Zealand.Alongside her role as Artistic Director of Sunameke,

Gray has enjoyed other career highlights working with various other companies including Tracks Dance Theatre, Drum Drum, ANU Pasifika Australia, NRL Education and Welfare, Moko Ink and New Zealand Pacific Dance. Tours of the Pacific Islands and the United States have exposed Gray to the global market on varying levels and continue to form the way she works today.

Gray’s residency will take place at Te Oro Arts Centre in Glen Innes where she will work with a number of participants on a dance-film project. She will also teach Saturday Nesian dance classes designed for women but also open to men.

Read more about Julia’s Residency here –

The public are welcome to attend Saturday classes with Julia Gray at:

Where: Te Oro Arts Centre  When: Saturday 12th  August 2017 – 7 October Time: 4pm – 530pm Presentation showing to occur in early October.

To enroll in the classes click the link below:

For media enquiries please contact Pacific Dance NZ: Email: Phone: +64 9 376 00 60

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is supported by PDNZ, Creative NZ, Te Oro Arts Centre, Tamaki Local Board

You can watch a short documentary profiling this year’s Pacific Dance Artist in Residence – Tuiahai Tuiafitu – here!

Pacific Dance Artist in Residence 2016

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence has been selected for 2016 and for the first time is an international recipient.

The dance residence has been a staple of the professional Pacific dance scene in Aotearoa since its establishment in 2010.

Now in its seventh year for the first time it has extended beyond the shores of Aotearoa and further consolidates and develops links between communities joined by the waters of Oceania.

The recipient of the 2016 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is Tuiahai (Hai) Tuiafitu.

Tuiahai is a Tongan dancer and choreographer who has been part of the Atenisi Foundation for the Performing Arts (AFPA) for a number of years. He is the eldest grandson of Atenisi Institute founder, the late Professor ‘Ilaisa Futa Helu who was known as an authority of Tongan history, tradition and culture. From an early age Tuiahai was instructed in the arts of Tonga’s heritage culture by his grandfather as well as receiving great influence being brought up around Atenisi.

“I grew up with dance and I think I learnt a thing or two from my late grandpa,” Tuiahai relates.

“I pretty much danced every day when I was young and I was always around AFPA, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when they would do their dance practice. I was always there.”

Tuiahai went on to school in the very environment where he grew, at Atenisi, where he soon joined AFPA and began to travel the world as part of its performing group.

“I love sharing our Tongan culture with others and always used to love the cross-cultural experience when we would go to other places. I had the chance to meet other types of people but even meeting our own Tongan communities in these places, they would be surprised when they saw us dance because we presented a style and technique they had not seen before, or at least experienced first-hand.”

The style of dance he is talking about is what he will be teaching while on his residency in Aotearoa. He describes them as the four pillars of heritage Tongan dance (still practiced today):

‘Otuhaka – a seated group dance with Samoan influence similar to its successor the ma’ulu’ulu but with words and melody much different and from older Samoan origins.

Me’etu’upaki – the ancient paddle dance of Tonga with Futunan links.

FahaÊ»i-ula (ula) – the predecessor of the tau’olunga, originally performed by chiefly daughters.

Tau’olunga – stemming from its Samoan origins this dance developed into a particularly Tongan form from the 1800’s and more so with the inclusion by Queen Salote of distinct Tongan wrist flourishes and lakalaka leg transitions in the 1950’s.

Tuiahai will be delivering workshops three times a week (4.30-6.30pm) including a Saturday at Te Oro Arts Centre, 98 Line Road, Glen Innes from the 15th August to 10th September 2016.

Tuiahai will be delivering classes on:

Monday 4.30-7.30pm

Wednesday  4.30-7.30pm

Saturday 3-6.00pm

Final showing 10 Sept 6.00pm

If you are interested in taking part email or call 09 376 0060

The Residency will be delivered at the new Te Oro Arts Centre in Glen Innes and supported by Creative New Zealand, Foundation North, Pacific Dance New Zealand and Auckland Council Te Oro Arts Centre.

This partnership is vital according to Pacific Dance NZ director Sefa Enari.

“Over the past six years the residency has been delivered in South Auckland, Porirua and now East Auckland.”

Enari continues, “We have timed this year’s residency to end during the New Zealand Tongan Language Week in September. Mr Tuiafitu will work with local schools and deliver public workshops at Te Oro during his four week residency.”

The theme for this year’s NZ Tonga Language Week (4 to 10 September) is “Enriching Aotearoa with Tongan Arts’ – ‘Fakakoloa Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e faiva ‘a e Tongá’.

For media enquiries please contact or call 09 376 00 60.

Pacific Dance Artist Residency Comes to a Close

In its sixth year and coming to a close on Thursday 10th September at M.I.T. Manukau Theatre, the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence once again delivered a fantastic opportunity to new practitioners to take up Pacific dance.

Based at the M.I.T. Manukau Theatre at the Forest of Learning the residency was run over eight weeks and saw seasoned Pacific dance practitioners – Tupe Lualua (Samoan), Aruna Po-Ching (Hawaiian), Sesilia Pusiaki (Tongan) and Leki Bourke (Pan-Pacific/Contemporary) – deliver a fantastic all round experience in Pacific dance to the largely non-dance community.

As well as offering classes to Year 2 M.I.T. Faculty of Arts students (mostly non-dancers), the artists also opened classes to the public.

The closing on Thursday brought together much of what the students had learnt during the residency and provided an opportunity for the general community of family, friends and others to come along and see the dance they had learnt.

Pacific Dance NZ would like to thank M.I.T. Faculty of Creative Arts, Creative New Zealand and Foundation North for making this programme happen.

PDNZ is looking forward to next year and what may come from the students as they develop what they’ve learnt and present it again at the faculty in another two months.

All Welcome to a showing of Work from the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence 2015

After an eight week intensive in the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme, participants are ready to show their stuff. The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence has seen four Pacific dance artists work with students from the M.I.T. Faculty of Creative Arts teaching a number of Pacific dance styles – Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian and Pan-Pacific drum dance.

The public is invited to a showing of what the students have learnt over the past eight weeks on:



M.I.T. Manukau – Theatre 

Level 1, above the train station

CNR. Davies Ave and Station Rd, Manukau

For further enquiries contact or call 09 376 00 60.

Pacific Dance Artists in Residence 2015

Now in its sixth year the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is returning to Auckland. The previous two years has seen the residency based in Wellington, first with the residency of Samoan dance choreographer Tupe Lualua and secondly with esteemed Cook Islands choroegrapher Tuaine Robati.

This year marks a change in the usual programme, seeing a number of artists awarded the residency – Tupe Lualua (Samoa), Aruna Po-Ching (Hawaii), Sesilia Pusiaki (Tonga) and Leki Jackson Bourke (Pan Pacific Drum).

This year marks a new partnership with the Manukau Institute of Technology Faculty of Creative Arts. As part of this relationship, the residency will have two components; an intensive learning component for 2nd year dance students from the faculty and an open class for community participants.

The residency will offer students from the faculty the opportunity to learn a range of dance styles as well as the opportunity to assist in teaching those styles to the community participants.

The residency will be held at Te Waonui O Te Matauranga – or The Forest of Learning, the Manukau Tertiary Centre above the Manukau Train Station.

Programme: 8 Weeks on Wednesdays & Thursdays from Weds July 22nd. Open to the Public from 330pm – 530pm

To register for the programme contact Annabel Gane / 09 968 8000 ex 8431




Dance Style


22nd & 23rd July



29th & 30th July



5th & 6th August



12th & 13th August



19th & 20th August

Pacific drum


26th & 27th August

Pacific drum


2nd & 3rd September



9th & 10th September


10th Sept

Final run and show

7pm Show

You can get live updates of our Residency on our Facebook Page – check it here.


Catch some videos of the Residency launch below:

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is in its fifth year and this year Cook Islands master dance artist Tuaine-Nurse Tamarua Robati ONZM, MEd (VUW), BA (VUW), Dip Teach, Dip TESL (VUW) worked with high school students from the Porirua area over a two-month period to create several dance works.

Robati worked with several apprentices, all Whitireia graduates who he has previously taught, to deliver a comprehensive dance development programme in which his ideas were bound under the concept PUERA. He explains;

“For me it was about reigniting the passion for being of Cook Islands descent and hopefully through PUERA cover aspects of Cook Islands culture – P for Peu Maori as in the way we do things, Ura being dance technique, Evangelia we need to acknowledge the spiritual side of our culture which is steeped in Christianity, Rakei is creative costumes working with fresh material (leaves and greenery) that young people don’t really get an opportunity to work with; and Akateni gives some teenagers the opportunity to work on drums, ukulele or guitar.”

He explains the reasoning for having apprentices do much of the teaching.

“I see my role as empowering them for the knowledge they’ve already got and developing them to be good tutors for the community in developing them further from what they’ve already learnt. I think the more people we can empower to deliver, research and create the more dynamic our culture will be.”

Several dozen students came through the programme and gained insights into Cook Islands dance they may not have gained from being involved in other groups. Tupe Lualua, the 2013 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence currently doing an internship with Pacific Dance New Zealand to complete her masters has been overseeing the running of the residency. She explains further;

“It’s given them [the participants] an opportunity to learn the mechanics of the heritage dance. It’s assumed a lot of the time that because you come from a Pacific island culture you already know how to dance and you see that happen in community or church groups where they play a drum and assume everything will be all right. But we actually teach technique, structure and conceptual ideas about the hows and whys of the dance. That’s the benefit of learning under someone like Tuaine, because he has the experience to deliver that.”

Robati has had several decades experience of teaching both general education and dance. He’s also been a stalwart at Whitireia New Zealand for many years and also taught Lualua, herself a Whitireia graduate.

Lualua explains her feelings about the programme, “it’s been great to see the younger ones stand up and take control of teaching the next generation and passing on the knowledge that Tuaine has given them. I’ve also seen a lot of the kids grow and put their heads up.”

She also relates that the general community has also been enjoying the workshops,

“You see the older community bringing in their drums and singing along. I’ve loved going along to the workshops myself and I’m quite sad that they’re going to finish this week because I’ll be missing-out on being surrounded by Pacific Islands dance two-days a week.”

Looking ahead Robati is optimistic about where things could go.

“Looking further down the track maybe the Polyfest for the Kapiti/Kapi Mana area I could see that PUERA could represent the Cook Islands component which is of all the four main schools in this area rather than four individual schools. I think it’s about time now we come together. I’d rather have a team of one-hundred and give these kids the chance to connect with each other also.”

The 2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is supported by Pacific Dance New Zealand, DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand), Creative New Zealand & Pataka Art and Museum, with venue support from the Porirua Cook Islands Association.

The apprentices involved with the residency are: George Teinakore George, Parris Kaitai, Te Hau Winitana and Julien Lameka Nehemia (Meka).

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence closing will be held on Saturday 28th June at Pataka Museum at 630pm. This will be a community celebration of the residency, will include performances by the participants of the residency workshops and be officially closed by the Deputy High Commissioner of the Cook Islands Ms Tepaeru Herrmann.


The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence 2014, Tuaine-Nurse Tamarua Robati, was launched in his two-month journey on Saturday 26th April at Pataka Museum in Porirua.

Members of the Porirua community, the Porirua Cook Islands Association, the Porirua Cook Islands Presbyterian Church and Whitireia students and graduates along with others from the Wellington community; sang, danced and prayed for the success of the residency.

A blessing by Revered Les Solomona of the Cook Islands Presbyterian Church started off preceedings, followed by speeches by Iosefa Enari (Director, PDNZ), Tuaine Robati himself and the official launch by His Excellency Mr Tekaotiki Matapo (Cook Islands High Commissioner).

The event was also MC’d by last year’s Pacific Dance Artist in Resident – Tupe Lualua – who this year is overseeing the residency as part of an internship with Pacific Dance New Zealand and fulfilling her master’s studies requirements with Victoria University.

The first workshop of the residency following the official launch and afternoon tea, had 40 participants from a range of backgrounds and ages.

The workshop series is offered to high school students on Wednesdays, 4pm – 6pm, at the Te Akapua’anga Hall (Cook Islands Hall); and on Saturday’s, 4pm – 6pm at Pataka Museum.

The purpose of the workshops are to explore concepts around the idea of PUERA:

PeuCulture and Customs
Rakei Costuming
Akateni Music and Instruments

Robati hopes that with this foundation he may be able to bloom these ideas into an as yet to be developed project in which he eluded to on the day and received very favourable responses from the general community in attendance.

As part of the residency Tuaine has taken on several Whitireia New Zealand graduates as apprentices: George Teinakore George, Parris Kaitai, Te Hau Winitana and  Julien Lameka Nehemia (Meka).

#PUERA will continue every Wednesday and Saturday for the next two-months.

The 2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is supported by Pacific Dance New ZealandDANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand)Creative New Zealand & Pataka Art and Museum, with venue support from the Porirua Cook Islands Association.

For Media enquiries email –, ph: 09 376 00 60



The Pacific dance artist in residence is the only one of its kind in Aotearoa. It is offered to established dance practitioners of Pacific Island heritage. 2014 is the fifth year of the residency and the second consecutive year it will be hosted in Porirua.

Pacific Dance New Zealand is proud to announce this year’s recipient of the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence 2014 – Tuaine Robati ONZM, MEd (VUW), BA (VUW), Dip Teach, Dip TESL (VUW).

Tuaine is the Senior Lecturer of Cook Islands dance in the Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree at Whitireia New Zealand.  In addition to teaching dance and creating choreography Tuaine is also the Artistic Director, International Tour Director and Cook Islands Community Liaison at Whitireia.

Involved in a variety of educational fields since 1972, Tuaine has taught at a range of levels from Primary School right through to the University level. He has been a member of the Creative NZ Pacific Arts Board; the Ministry of Education Languages Expert Panel; Chair of the Ministry of Education Cook Islands Maori Language Curriculum; and Advisory Council to the Minister of Pacific Islands Affairs.

Tuaine was awarded the ONZM (Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit) in 2013 for his services to Education and Pacific Communities.

PUERA – meaning to blossom or bloom– is the working title of Tuaine’s residency.  The aim of this residency is to foster and enhance pride in being of Cook Islands descent through engaging in heritage dance and culture.  The workshops will be tailored for Secondary school students.

The weekly workshops will consist of the five methods of PUERA:

PeuCulture and Customs
Rakei Costuming
Akateni Music and Instruments

Participants in the workshops will be guided by Whitireia performing arts graduates who have been trained by Tuaine and will also be mentored as part of the residency. These graduates include – Julien Lameka Nehemia (Meka), Te hau Winitana and George Teinakore George.

The project also sees Tupe Lualua as part of her Masters degree at Victoria University fulfill an internship with Pacific Dance NZ helping to oversee this project. Tupe is also the 2013 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence.

Tuaine would like for this residency to build confidence and pride in Cook Islands heritage for youth living in Aotearoa as well as raising educational aspirations and achievement.

In his time at Whitireia New Zealand, Tuaine has taken Whitireia Performing Arts students to international festivals every year since 1994; and adjudicated at numerous Cook Islands Dance competitions including the ASB Auckland Secondary Schools Maori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival. He was a member of a delegation led by Prime Minister Helen Clark to Rarotonga in 2001 and a delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff to Tahiti, New Caledonia and Rapanui in 2005. He has also presented works to Prince Edward upon his royal visit to Wellington in 2009.  Tuaine is currently an advisor/consultant for the Ministry of Education and member of PIPEF & the Norman Kirk Scholarship Board.

Pacific Dance New Zealand would like to wish Tuaine all the best in his residency and we look forward to what may come from this development opportunity.

Meitaki Ma’ata, Kia Manuia ~

The 2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is supported by Pacific Dance New ZealandDANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand)Creative New Zealand & Pataka Art and Museum.

For Media enquiries email –, ph: 09 376 00 60

You can find out more about the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme on our Pacific Dance Artist in Residence Facebook page #PacificDanceArtistNZ . Also check our News & Events page for other updates.


You can see a snippet of the showing at Pataka Museum here:

Pacific Dance NZ would like to congratulate Tupe Lualua and her support team of Le Moana Productions for a fabulous showing of works at Pataka Museum on Friday 6th September. This showing brought together many from the Porirua community and from around NZL to watch and partake in a sharing session, which showed the commitment and heart of the participants who had taken part.

Over a two-month period Tupe had worked with youth participants, many from the schools involved in hosting the residency (Porirua College and Windley School) but also from the general community (at Pataka Museum).

The ages of participants ranged from 5 years to 70 years and the numbers of participants who went through the workshops during the residency was up to one hundred.

On show for the final sharing session were a select number of youth participants who also showed a desire to continue on with an association after the programme was completed. On the night of the showing, the Porirua Pataka Youth Performing Arts Group was announced and was a positive outcome from the residency.

Although the project had sought to incorporate a larger array of dance styles in its makeup, it ended using mostly Samoan forms, as that is what the participants had indicated they wanted to learn and what they wanted to present (other styles such as hip-hop being openly available for them in other situations). It thus showed the importance of maintaining heritage art forms and that there is a need in the community to deliver these forms.

Again, Pacific Dance NZ congratulates Tupe Lualua on her work and wish her all the best in future.


The Pacific Dance Artist in Residency showing of Work done during this two-month residency will be on at Pataka Museum (the Spine) at 630pm, Friday 6th September in Porirua. Check above links for more details.

PR: Pacific Dance Residency 2013 Announcement

Pacific Dance New Zealand is proud to announce this year’s recipient of the Pacific Dance Residency.

This residency is only one of two residencies in the arts offered nationally to specifically Pacific Islands arts practitioners.

This year’s residency has been awarded to Tupe Lualua.

Tupe is an established Samoan dance instructor and choreographer based in Porirua, Wellington. She is a performing arts lecturer at Whitireia New Zealand and has over ten-years experience across the performance and education industry.

Tupe’s residency will be spread over a two-month period between July and September and will include workshops at local Porirua schools and the development of a new dance work based on fa’afiafiaga fa’aSamoa – a repertoire of traditional Samoan dance.

Tupe has this to say about what she would like to achieve during her residency,

“In this Residency I would like to celebrate diversity. Porirua is a vibrant city rich with different cultures.  Not only different ethnicities and nationalities but also different human forms, shapes, and ages.  Music and dance transcends human differences and builds cultural bridges.  I believe when people sing and dance, they are in their true self, presenting the spirit and life connecting them to the physical and spiritual worlds as well as being in an element where they feel at “home”.  This residency will be an opportunity for people who have a keen passion for dance and music to share their talents, do what they love and explore their creativity.”

Tupe’s dance work will be an exploration of several components making up a fiafiaga. These include an Ulufale (entrance), Laulausiva (opening song and dance), Ma’ulu’ulu (action dance), Sasa (seated dance), Fa’ataupati (slap dance) and a Taualuga (ending dance); all combining to give one experience.

Although Tupe will be using a Samoan structure to wrap her pieces, she will use a variety of dance elements within the actual choreography. In her words,

“The structure of the repertoire mirrors a fiafiaga fa’asamoa (in the way of Samoan dance repertoire) but the actual choreography will be influenced by the diverse influences practised or expressed during the workshops and not necessarily Siva Samoa e.g, haka, ura, break dancing, contemporary, jazz and of course Samoan and other Pacific dance styles.”

Tupe is a well-travelled dance exponent and this year will also travel to Taiwan before her residency begins and Japan on the completion of her residency. Tupe hopes that the experience in Taiwan will contribute to her workshops but places much of her dance development firmly within her experience growing up in Porirua.

Tupe explains, “Growing up in the diversely rich community of Porirua, embarking on a career in performing arts only seemed like a natural progression from what I had been immersed in from my youth. From Sunday school, choir and youth group at EFKS Ketesemane Church (Congregational Christian Church of Samoa), Polynesian cultural groups at Corinna School, Waitangirua Intermediate and Porirua College – eventually moving onto Whitireia Performing Arts at Pataka. This is the artistic Oceanic village that has raised me. And, this residency is an opporunity for me to reciprocate the inspiration that was given to me and continues to fuel my career no matter where I go.”

Pacific Dance New Zealand would like to wish Tupe all the best in her residency and looks forward to what may come from this developmental opportunity.

*Tupe Lualua is a graduate of the Whitireia Bachelor of Applied Arts (Performing Arts) and is currently completing a post-graduate diploma in Pacific Studies at Victoria University. She has performed and choreographed in several plays and dance works including – The Factory (2011), Poly-Zygotic (2009), and Fatu na Toto (2013). She has also toured extensively with both Whitireia New Zealand, Taumata Pasifika Dance Company and Waka Ura Cultural Dance Company, which she also managed (2005 – 2008).

For more information visit –


Ph: +64 9 376 00 60

Pacific Dance Artist In Residence – Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila. 

Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila delivered a great showing of work on Saturday 21st July at Metro Theatre in Mangere East. After ten weeks of hard work, Sesilia’s Pacific Dance Residency ended with the presentation of ‘Hau ‘o Momo’ (The Rule of Momo).

You can read more about the inspiration behind this piece of work – here.

This year Sesilia worked with 32 participants in the South Auckland community for 10 weeks starting from 14 May.

Sesilia received a favourable review from ‘Theatreview’ and you can read the review – here.

Check out Sesilia’s next work, at the Tempo Dance Festival in October, where she will present an adaptation of the work she developed during this dance residency – Pukepuke ‘o Tonga.

See some photos of Sesilia’s showing on FB – here.


Pacific Dance New Zealand is pleased to announce the Pacific Dance Artist In Residence for 2012 – Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila.

This Pacific Dance Artists’ Residency is in its third year and is a community dance project presented by Pacific Dance NZ, Dance Aotearoa NZ, Auckland Council and Creative NZ. Past artists include Justin Haiu (2010) and Keneti Muaiava (2011).

This year Sesilia will work in the South Auckland community for 10 weeks starting on 14 May.

The purpose of this residency is for the local community to be able to access the skill base of an established dance artist who will deliver a dance programme specific to their needs. This year Sesilia will use the residency to promote the maintenance of traditional Tongan dance, to “preserve (the) culture and heritage” of the New Zealand based Tongan community.

The residency will focus on the learning of a repertoire of traditional Tongan dances for men and women. In particular Sesilia will focus on the Me’etupaki, Otuhaka and Faha’iula dances as well as the transmission of broader dance skills to Auckland based youth. Sesilia’s background as a descendant of the Lapaha Punake (master artist) pedigree can also be traced back to her great grandfather Vili Pusiaki, composer/choreographer to the late Queen Salote of Tonga.

Pacific Dance NZ director Iosefa Enari has seen the residency grow over the past three years and is encouraged by this year’s artist’s proposal of work. “I’m really pleased to see this residency evolve and develop as part of the Auckland dance calendar,” states Enari. “It is vital that dance programmes for the community are in sync with the needs of that community. This year’s artist continues the tradition of providing Pacific dance that caters for everyone, which is what we (Pacific Dance NZ) are about.”

The residency will be delivered at the Metro Theatre in Mangere East over 10 weeks and culminate in a public presentation on Saturday 21 July at 6pm at the Metro. Sesilia will be given a designated dance studio (at Metro Theatre) to teach weekly classes. Classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as Saturday afternoons.

To register attendance to the showing, please email – or call Pacific Dance NZ on phone 09 3760060.

For media enquiries please contact Sefa Enari or 09 3760060.

Publicity Release: 6 May 2011


Pacific Dance New Zealand is proud to announce the successful applicant to the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence for 2011.

The Auckland-based residency is presented by Pacific Dance New Zealand in partnership with Auckland CouncilCreative New Zealand and DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand).

This exciting eight week dance residency is offered to an established New Zealand based dancer, dance choreographer or a director of Pacific Island descent with a proven track record of working in a community and or professional theatre context.

The successful applicant for 2011 is Keneti Muaiava.

Keneti is a master dancer specialising in Samoan dance. He is the co-founder for Vision Cultural Movement; an organisation that specialises in the maintenance of Samoan heritage arts & culture in Aotearoa.

Keneti was also the founder of Legacy Dance Company, a successful Samoan dance performance company which took Samoan dance into the limelight on television’s “New Zealand’s Got Talent” (2008).

Keneti has had 15 years of Pacific Dance teaching experience covering New Zealand promoting, developing and implementing a successful Pacific dance education programme and service into schools. He has taught at various tertiary institutions around the country and has also taught and choreographed winning performances in the ASBPolyfest.

Keneti has an extensive personal performance CV and is currently the resident expert in Samoan traditional dance choreography at Auckland University’s Centre for Pacific Studies.

Keneti’s residency project is called “Past, Present and Future” and is centred around the teaching and development of three distinct Samoan dance styles whereby community dancers will have the opportunity to imbue themselves in the concepts and culture behind the movements while also exploring contextual elements making the dances both “authentic and relevant.”

Sefa Enari, director of Pacific Dance New Zealand, says he is very pleased with the calibre of applicants for the residency this year and is keenly excited to see what Keneti will produce.

The residency will be carried out in South Auckland for 8 weeks starting 4th June 2011 and will culminate in a public showing at Mangere’s Metro Theatre on Saturday 30th July.

For more information, please contact: Filoi Vaila’au at 09 3700487, email at, or media enquiries to:

Or, visit the following sites for more info: ,

Manukau’s Pacific Dance Artist in Residence 

The inaugural Pacific Dance Artist in Residence was awarded to Justin Haiu and carried out in Manukau for eight weeks in July and August 2010.

This exciting new residency was presented by Pacific Dance New Zealand in partnership with Manukau City Council and DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand).

Applications were sought from established New Zealand based dancers, dance choreographers and directors of Pacific Island descent with a proven track record of working in a community and/or professional theatre context.

Mr Haiu, from the islands of Wallis and Futuna and based in Mangere Bridge, is an established Pacific Island dancer with significant performance, instruction and choreographic experience.

Mr Haiu has appeared as a performer in a number of professional theatrical and television productions including the Australian stage production of Lion King (Melbourne and Shanghai), The Arrival (Red Leap Theatre, presented at the NZ International Arts Festival as well as in Hong Kong and Sydney) and Tent by esteemed choreographer Michael Parmenter.

He was a finalist in ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, a nominee for Best New Work at the Tempo NZ Festival of Dance in 2009, and chosen as one of four choreographers who created a new dance work for the Pacific Dance Fono at the 2009 Manukau Festival of Arts.

Mr Haiu is currently choreographing the upcoming Pacific dance theatre production My Penina at The Edge showing from 2-7 August.

Pacific Dance New Zealand director Iosefa Enari is thrilled with the selection of this year’s artist. “Justin will bring to this residency a clear sense of community involvement and the youth of Manukau will benefit significantly from his residency. We are proud to be involved in Justin’s development as a choreographer and dance artist.”

During the residency Mr Haiu was given the opportunity to create a dance work with youth participants from the community culminating in a public showing at the new Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku in September. , ,