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The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence program is an exciting dance residency offered to an established dancer, choreographer, or 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 that 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 NZ proudly unveils the highly anticipated 2023 Artist in Residence programme, set against the stunning backdrop of the beautiful island of Samoa. This year promises to be a game-changing cultural celebration that will transcend boundaries and leave an everlasting impact.

The Artist in Residence programme has been a cherished highlight in Pacific Dance NZ’s annual calendar, honoring the richness and diversity of Pacific dance and culture in Aotearoa New Zealand. However, this year heralds an exceptional evolution of this tradition. Say ‘Talofa’ to the unprecedented journey as we transport this spectacular residency to the heart of the Pacific – Samoa!

A major highlight of this year’s residency is the exceptional talent gracing our program. Joining us as the esteemed 2023 Artist in Residence is the multi-faceted choreographer, creative force, dancer, and artist, Villa Junior Lemanu.

Villa Junior Lemanu is more than an artist; he is a visionary. His  career has dazzled stages and captivated audiences, showcasing a unique blend of dance, culture, and storytelling. With roots deeply embedded in the rich cultural heritage of Samoa, he is poised to breathe life into the essence of the Pacific with this residency.

This first time visit to Samoa for Villa with Pacific Dance NZ’s director, Iosefa Enari, will be heartfelt. Hailing from Samoan heritage, both Iosefa and Villa infuse this residency with profound personal and cultural significance.

The realisation of our Artist in Residence programme owes its existence to the unwavering support of Creative NZ. Their commitment to nurturing the arts and fostering cultural exchange forms the foundation of this initiative.

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence programme provides a unique opportunity for established dancers, choreographers, or directors of Pacific Islands descent who have made their mark in community and professional theatre contexts. This residency testifies to the potency of culture, dance, and storytelling, offering a platform for artists to delve into their heritage and explore the intricate tapestry of their roots.

The 2023 Artist in Residence programme with Villa Junior Lemanu exemplifies the ever-evolving and dynamic world of Pacific dance. It serves as a conduit for uniting people, bridging cultures, and leaving an indelible mark on the performing arts landscape.

Save the date and gear up to dance, learn, and revel in the beauty of Samoa. Together, we shall create something truly spectacular! Don’t miss this extraordinary chance to experience the enchantment of Pacific dance like never before.

Get ready to dance with us and Villa Junior Lemanu in the heart of Samoa!

For media inquiries, please contact us.

Media Contact:
Joanna Bourke
Marketing & Comms
Pacific Dance NZ
Email: joanna@pacificdance.co.nz


Omai Ke Koli Auloa, Siohooohoooe!

The Tupumaiaga A Niue Trust are our 2022 Artist in Residence with a 9-week action-packed schedule that will cover all aspects of Niuean heritage arts, culture and dance with some of Niue’s finest masters.

On the back of winning the Creative New Zealand Pacific Heritage Arts Award in 2021, the trust win is an acknowledgement of their work that has been established since 2007 to provide and promote Niuean cultural heritage workshops to Niue youth and families. It is also a recognition of a strengthening relationship with the Pacific Dance Fono Trust and wider community.

The Niuean language is currently classified as a ‘definitely endangered language’ by UNESCO which means that children no longer learn the language as a mother tongue in the home.   The 2022 Artist in Residence (AiR22) programme enhances the commitment by organisations like The Tupumaiaga A Niue Trust to encourage and inspire current and future generations to continue those unique activities that prolong the existence of aga fakamotu and vagahau Niue.

The Tupumaiaga a Niue Trust has a high level of social capital and will collaborate with a number of Niuean masters (Ioane Aleke Fa’avae, Mone Lakatani, Sam Tohilima, Niu College Vemoa, Leki Jackson-Bourke, Neville Luisi, Rob Luisi  and Sam Pilisi) to deliver the weekly workshops during the residency.   Participants will immerse themselves and learn the Niue Takalo, Ta Me, Costume Making (Titi Lau Ti and FouFou) and the Katoua.

‘The takalo is one part of our programme that we have included in our residency and a very important dance to the young men of Niue. It gives them a great sense of pride and belonging. But there is also a lack of understanding of the lyrics  and actions for some of the diaspora. Tupumaiaga A Niue Trust wants to run this programme to assist our young toa Niue to learn more about the takalo from some of our finest takalo tufuga and for them to learn  the spirit of the takalo and what it encompasses. We are also including the Ta Me, Katoua, Foufou, Titi Lau ti workshops. From Niue Island to New Zealand. From  Nukututaha to  Aotearoa. We give thanks for the blessings for  being a part of the Artist in Residence with Pacific Dance for 2022 . Fakamonuina mai he Atua .’    Zora Feilo, founding member of Tupumaiaga a Niue Trust and lead for the residency.

The residency will launch on Saturday 20th August at the Wesley Community Centre and it will be the commencement of the 9-week schedule.  All workshops will be based at the Wesley Community Centre in Mt Roskill each Saturday, a virtual school holiday programme as well as dance programs with the schools in Marlborough and the NZ School of Dance in Wellington. The residence will conclude with a celebration and showcase during Niue Language Week on Saturday 22nd October.

Omai Ke Koli Auloa, Siohooohoooie! Come One, come all let’s dance cheeehuu!

The residency is made available by Creative New Zealand.



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.