Dance Fono

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 Fono is an annual event delivered in partnership with Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ).

The first Fono was held in 2006 as a forum for Pacific dance practitioners to gather, network and discuss dance issues unique to Pacific people in New Zealand.

Since then the event grew and encompassed three major components: choreographic labs, involvement of a guest choreographer, and dance classes for the public in various Pacific dance forms.

In 2011, the fifth fono, it once again became an entity on its own purely as a discussion format event running for the first time during the Pasifika Festival week of activities. The choreographic lab became a separate event occurring over three weeks in October.

In 2012, the sixth fono, once again the fono was held in South Auckland as part of the Pacific Arts Summit during May.

2013 sees the fono back at the University of Auckland’s Fale Pasifika and again featuring as part of the Auckland Pasifika suite of events during March.

Pacific Dance Fono 2006

Held in March 2006 at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Manukau Campus, this was the inaugural Pacific Dance Fono.

The aims were to build the communications between Pacific Island dancers, the wider dance community and organizations which could support the development of Pacific dance in Aotearoa.

The fono also looked at the barriers and problems experienced by Pacific dancers and recommended strategies for future development and support.

45 participants were present and presentations were given by:

Tania Kopytko (DANZ executive director), Anton Carter (Creative New Zealand Arts advisor) and Ema Tavola (Manukau City Council Pacific Arts advisor.

The keynote speaker was Neil Ieremia (Black Grace Dance Company director,


Part of the Auckland City ‘Celebrate Pasifika’ Month and held at the Metro Theatre in Manukau, Pacific Dance Fono 2008 was the second Pacific Dance Fono.

It was at this fono that a decision was made that it should became an annual event and the Pacific Island Dance Forum (Pacific Dance New Zealand’s guiding committee) was created.

There were 57 participants representing all of the major Pacific Island groups and the event was opened by Pele Walker (Chair of Pacific Arts Committee, CNZ).

The keynote speaker, Lemi Ponifasio  artistic director of Mau Dance Company,( and 2008 Creative NZ Choreographic Fellow,  presented his particularly unique vision of Pacific dance.

A panel presented information about sources of funding available for Pacific dance practitioners in the Auckland region. Panellists were  :

  • Jenny Young, Community funding Coordinator, Manukau City Council. Jenny presented on Creative Communities funding giving participants an all round appreciation of how to access this funding and what funders are looking for.
  • Tarisi Vunidilo, Creative New Zealand Pacific Island Advisor Auckland. Tarisi outlined changes occurring in Creative New Zealand funding, particularly on how grants of $5000 or less would be handled over coming years and on how long term project funding would be focused on enabling development over long term goals.
  • Sally Markham, Auckland City Council. Sally focused on funding available to dancers, such as Creative Communities and Arts Alive funding. She also outlined the accommodation assistance fund for halls and venues. She also urged groups to discuss their projects with the Arts advisors of the city councils and creative New Zealand. Sally also encouraged participants to apply to the Ministry of Education Artists in Schools pilot project.

DANZ Facilitator Tania Kopytko gave an overview of DANZ’s role and its services for dancers.

Event Facilitators were Sefa Enari, Tania Kopytko, Susan Jordan (DANZ), Faye Jansen (DANZ).

Pacific Dance Fono/Choreographic Lab 2009

A 2-day fono was held in 2009 in association with a two week choreographic lab. The fono provided a programme of practical workshops, master dance classes in Polynesian and Melanesian dance forms, and panel discussions including a hip hop dance forum.

The Fono participants were drawn from throughout New Zealand.

The inaugural international guest artist artist for 2009 was Julia Mage’au Gray, director of Sunameke Productions, a Papua New Guinean performance group based in Darwin, Australia. She was the primary mentor for the choreographic lab, and facilitator for discussion following the keynote speaker’s address to the Fono.

The keynote speaker was Keneti Muaiava on the topic of moving between traditional and contemporary dance worlds.

The choreographic lab participants were present at the Fono. They included four choreographers – Justin Haiu, Siaosi Mulipola, Melissa Leaupepe and Carolanne Makakafauki – and twenty-two dancers (listed below).

Four new Pacific dance works in progress were developed as part of the Choreographic Lab. These were presented as the conluding event of the Fono in a special public performance which was listed as a Manukau Festival of Arts 09 event..



Justin Haiu
Siaosi Mulipola
Melissa Leaupepe
Carolannne Makaukaufaki


Ben MorrisonAti IdealeneMele TaeiloaTavai Fa’asavaluPaul Young
Suivai AutagavaiaJaz NewportSesilia TatuilaSeibah KaratiMele Taeiloa
Litea ‘AholeleiAli Foa’iFiloi Vaila’auJohn PuleituGrace Tinetali
Lasikei Ta’anielaMario FaumuiOtto MateoMario FaumuiReid Elisaia
Tracie Fesola’iSeidah Karati



Julia GreyKeneti MuaiavaKirsten ZemkeParris GoebelCharlene Te Drow
Tau Fuata NiueMarjorie Boaza

The theme for the Pacific Dance Fono 2010 is:

How can we take traditional Pacific dance forms and open up the poetry of their content in a theatrical setting?

This theme has been set by our very special guest speaker – Nina Nawalowalo and is based on her previous work with “Vula” (2002 – 2008) and her current work “Masi.” Here, she explored ways of opening up traditional dance in a theatrical context and the magic of illusion to tell a story.

Tom McCrory, Nina’s artistic partner in “The Conch” wrote the following taken from questions put to Nina at the Sydney Biennale 2006 …of Vula…

“It revealed to me that these Pacific Island women, while living in the now were the embodiment of thousands of years of Pacific culture in the now. Not only was this present beauty revealed, but also they became mythic, archetypical in their proportions. This information welled up from inside them and became the very personal yet very symbolic imagery of the piece.”

Read about Nina below…

Nina Nawalowalo biography:

Nina Nawalowalo started her career as a sports woman representing Wellington and New Zealand in Basketball. Training at Wellington Teachers College stimulated a passion for theatre. After qualifying as a teacher she went on to teach in Porirua and work in theatre and education with mentors Robert and Jane Bennet and ‘Mime International’ touring with the company throughout New Zealand, the Pacific and to Moscow and Poland. From here she travelled to London to Study Mime with Desmond Jones, Phillipe Gaulier, Pierre Byland and mask with Antonio Fava – Italy

For six years she performed and taught all over the world with Richard MacDougall, world champion close up Magician. Together they created new works  from a unique blend of Magic, Mask and Clown collaborating with many greats including Pierre Byland and members of Theatre de Complicite.

In 1994 she was awarded the prestigious comedy award from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Her work has been selected for and performed at many international festivals including: London International Mime Festival,

British Festival of Visual Theatre, Ulster Comedy Festival, Moscow  Arts  Festival USSR,  The Magic Castle Los Angeles ,London International Workshop Festival.

On returning to NZ directing work followed with a string of critically acclaimed shows in the Wellington theatre scene including:

NZ International  Festival -Readers and Writers- Rehearsed Reading of Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka’s new work “King Baabu”

The Wholly Grain –  Bats Theatre,

Spinning Mountain – Captial E National Theatre For Children

The Prophet  -by Hone Kouka, Downstage Theatre NZ International Arts Festival 2004 North Island Tour- Taki Rua Productions

Vula – ‘Dance Your Sox Off Festival’ – Bats Theatre 2002,

Te Whaea Theatre Wellington, Taupo Arts Festival 2004

South Pacific Arts Festival , Palau, Auckland Festival 2005, Guam Tour 2005, Christchurch Arts Festival. Sydney Opera House 2006, Vaka Vuku Festival Fiji

The Bite Festival – The Barbican Centre London 2008, Six city tour of Holland

Brisbane Powerhaus 2008, Adelaide 2008,

In 2007 Nina was awarded The Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award recognising her contribution as a Pacific artist to the performing arts in New Zealand. She is with Tom McCrory the Co-founder of ‘The Conch’ whose the award winning production ‘Vula ‘ toured nationally and internationally.

Her current theatre work in development  is Masi (Fijian for Tapa )

She has just returned from researching and auditioning in Fiji where she has been collabarating with world renowned magic illusionist Paul Kieve (Harry Potter magic consultant) and top Fijian male meke dancers. This development phase has been generously backed by Creative NZ and the British Council.

Nina is a regular tutor at  Toi Whakaari, The New Zealand Drama School.

Pacific Dance Fono 2011: Casting the Net 

Venue:             Fale Pasifika, Centre for Pacific Studies, Auckland University

Date:               Wednesday 9 March

Time:              1:00pm – 6:30pm


  • To network, engage, celebrate, acknowledge Pacific dance forms of Aotearoa
  • To create international links
  • To strengthen locally and pan Pacific
  • To profile Pacific dance practices and practitioners

To Register for the Fono, please contact

Director’s Note

Warm Pacific Greetings,

On behalf of the staff of Pacific Dance NZ and our sponsors, welcome you to the 5th Pacific Dance Fono. A special welcome to Mana Maoli Collective (Hawai’i) who have travelled far to be with us – aloha. This fono is for all Pacific dance practitioners from various cultures, genres and training. It is an opportunity for us to gather, discuss, share, learn and network. It is our pleasure to host this important fono and to give light to the practices of our esteemed panellists who will share their journeys and the aspirations with us all.


DANZ is delighted to be a partner in the Pacific Dance Fono. Dance cultures are core, vital and distinctive to the different Pacific cultures.

This fono is an important opportunity for us to explore the complexities and significance of dance in this Pacific region and begin to work and plan together to ensure we are recognising, preserving and developing those dance cultures.

This Year’s Fono:

The Pacific Dance Fono 2011 was the fifth dance fono and this year marked the first time the Fono was held in March during the Pasifika Festival. It was also the first time it was held in the beautiful Fale Pasifika at Auckland University’s Centre for Pacific Studies.

2011 saw an exciting line-up of practitioners speaking in three panels throughout the day. Our guest international keynote speakers Keola Nakanishi (founder of the Mana Maoli Collective from Hawai’i) and kumu hula Mehana’okala Hind also shared much about what it means to be Hawiian in the modern world and how hula imbues everything from daily life to the relationship one has with the environment and others.

Founded in 1999, Mana Maoli is a collective of educators, artists, musicians, cultural practitioners, community organizers, and families, who share a common vision of, and action toward, community empowerment.

This year’s fono was also opened by prominent composer and researcher Te AhukaramÅ« Charles Royal (B.Mus(Hons), M.Phil, PhD; who along with his Maori faculty whanau presented an inspiring and original haka powhiri.

The fono also closed with a presentation by Centre director Walter Fraser.

A little about our Panels on the day:

Panel 1: The International Experience (2:00pm – 3:00pm)

A group of internationally recognised and successful choreographers/dance company directors share their experiences on the international stage. Facilitated by Makerita Urale (Creative New Zealand), we hear from theatre director Nina Nawalowalo (The Conch)Moss Paterson (Atamira Dance Collective) and Tupe Lualua (Whitirea Polytechnic).

Panel 2: Sustaining Heritage Pacific Dance (3:30pm – 4:30pm)

A group of heritage dance artists/practitioners gather to discuss their experience in trying to sustain a heritage dance art culture here in Aotearoa and the issues around future sustainability of these art forms. Facilitated by Tania Kopytko (Executive Director of DANZ), we hear from Niuean tufuga (master craftsman) Sene Falakoa (Tau Fuata Niue), Samoan tufuga Keneti Muaiava (Vision Cultural Movement) and Cook Islands dancer/choreographer John Kiria (Te Anuanua Performimg Arts Troupe).

Panel 3: Emerging voices in Pacific dance (4:30pm – 5:30pm)

In our last panel of the day, a group of emerging dance artists take the floor. We hear about their experiences and talk of the issues involved in “making it” from their perspective. Facilitated by Iosefa Enari (Director of PDNZ), we hear from dancer/choreographer John Purcell Puleitu (GHOST Street Contemporary Dance Company)Olivia Taouma-Levy (Lima Dance Theatre) and Albert Tupuola (Tatau dance group).


12.45pm           Gather for Powhiri

1.00pm             Official welcome – Prof Dr Charles Royal

1.20pm             Keynote Speakers: Keola Nakanishi and Mehana Hind. Mana Maoli  Collective, Hawaii, USA.

2.00pm             Panel 1 – The International Experience

Panellists: Nina Nawalowalo, Moss Paterson, Tupe Lualua

3.00pm             Afternoon Tea/ Performance

University of Auckland Samoan Students Association

3.15pm             Panel 2 – Sustaining Heritage Pacific dance

Panellists: Sene Falakoa, Keneti MuaiavaJohn Kiria

4.15pm             Panel 3 – Emerging voices in Pacific dance

Panellists: John Purcell Puleitu, Olivia Taouma-Levy, Albert Tupuola.

5.15pm             Networking /Performance

University of Auckland Fijian Students Association

5.45pm             Performance – Mana Maoli Collective.

6.10pm  Official closing: Walter Fraser, director of Pacific Studies, Auckland  University.

Biographies of Participants:

Prof Dr Charles Royal – University of Auckland


Te AhukaramÅ« Charles Royal (B.Mus(Hons), M.Phil, PhD) is a composer and researcher. He uses his composition and research skills and experience to explore ‘the creative potential of indigenous knowledge.’ His abiding interest lies with ways in which indigenous knowledge might find new expressions and applications today. His particular interests lie with the use of indigenous knowledge in theatre and performing arts (the subject of his doctoral study) and with exploring the use of indigenous knowledge in the creation of knowledge through research.

Keola Nakanishi


Keola is the founder of the Mana Maoli Collective (founded in 1999) an indigenous collective of hundreds of artists, educators, musicians and dancers in Hawai’i. Keola comes from an educational background and was instrumental (being the principal) in the establishment and running of an Hawai’ian charter school in O’ahu called Halau Ku Mana, which teaches high school level students from an indigenous Hawai’ian base. Keola has also been involved in the First Nations’ Futures Program (programme manager) and is the vice-president of Kula no na Po’e Hawaii, a community board promoting multigenerational learning opportunities that instill cultural diversity. Keola is a graduate of the prestigious Kamehameha school and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Occidental College, and an MA in Pacific Islands Studies at UH-Manoa, with an emphasis in Education.

Mehanaokala Hind – Kumu Hula


Mehanaokala Hind is a Kumu Hula graduated formerly through traditional uniki rites by her Kumu Hula Leinaala Kalama Heine.  She is entrenched in Hawaiian culture and education, and lives it fully in her personal and professional life. Mehana is an academic advisor at the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies where she is active in supporting the needs of native Hawaiian students achieving their educational dreams. She also serves as a conference coordinator for Ka Aha Hula o Halauaola and a research consultant for Papaku Makawalu, among other roles. Mehana is also a member of various non-profit organisations – including Mana Maoli – whose mission is to perpetuate native Hawaiian culture and support the education of Hawaii’s children.

Nina Nawalowalo – The Conch


Nina is well experienced with the international theatre circuit, having lived and worked overseas for many years. She also traveled her most successful show, Vula, around the globe with her theatre company, ‘The Conch.’ Nina besides being a director and accomplished performing artist also has skills as a magician. In 1994 she was awarded the prestigious comedy award from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. In 2007 Nina was awarded The Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award recognising her contribution as a Pacific artist to the performing arts in New Zealand.

Moss Paterson – Atamira Dance Collective

(Ngati Tuwharetoa, NZ/Samoa)

Moss began his performance career as a musician composing and performing in Dunedin. This led him to study acting at The New Zealand College of Performing Arts and then on to study dance and choreography at UNITEC Performing Arts School in Auckland. For the past twelve years Moss has danced and choreographed for Black Grace Dance Company, Footnote Dance, Touch Compass and Atamira Dance Company. Te Paki and Whakairo for Atamira Dance Company, where Moss was awarded Best Choreography by TEMPO Dance Festival and Best New Choreographer in the NZ Listener 2007. While maintaining his passion for choreography, Moss is also Atamira Dance Company’s Executive Director.

Tupe Lualua – Whitirea Performing Arts


As a student at Whitireia Performing Arts, Tupe has performed in many international festivals including, CIOFF (Council of International Folklore Festivals) Festivals in Kuala Lumpur, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. After graduating in 2003, Tupe has travelled as a performer with the Graduate company to events such as, Blacktown annual anniversary celebrations in NSW, Australia, a delegation lead by Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff to Tahiti, New Caledonia and Easter Island, Business and Education fairs for New Zealand Trade and Enterprises in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and The New Zealand New Thinking exhibition – Tour of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guang Zhou). Tupe is currently the tutor of Samoan dance in the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Performing Arts) Programme at Whitirea Polytechnic (Wellington).

 Sene Falakoa – Tau Fuata Niue


Sene Pihgia-Falakoa is the manager and director of Tau Fuata Niue Dance Group. Tau Fuata Niue have toured and performed in Japan, Brazil, China, Norfolk Island, Canberra Australia and Niue. The group have showcased Niuean dance up and the down the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Tau Fuata Niue was also the driving force behind the first ‘Niue Cultural & Arts Festival’ in 2009 and started a pilot program for Niue dance for kids in 2010. Sene has worked closely with Pacific Dance New Zealand to promote and showcase Niue dance and is also a member of the Pacific Islands Dance Forum.

 Keneti Muaiava – Vision Cultural Movement


Keneti is an accomplished and experienced Samoan dance practitioner, educator and choreographer and was a leading pioneer teaching Samoan dance at The University of Auckland, where he still is today. He comes from a paternal line of Samoan dance practitioners and is the co-founder, choreographer and artistic director for Vision Cultural Movement (VCM) and South Auckland’s – Legacy Dance Company.

John Kiria – Te Anuanua Performing Arts Troupe

(Cook Islands) 

Founder and Leader of the Anuanua Performing Arts Troupe (APAT) John is an accomplished Cook Islands dancer. He formed APAT in 1992 and since then the troupe has traveled the globe participating in many festivals.  Over the years, APAT have participated in the Cook Islands National Dance Championships and were awarded the titles Cook Islands International Dance Champions and Cook Islands NZ National Duet champions. APAT has also won 3 years in a row at the Rapanui Group Competition. John is currently working as Lay Advocate in the South Auckland Courts and running his own small business.
John Purcell Puleitu – Ghost Street Contemporary Dance


Awarded ‘The Most Innovative Choreography’ at Tempo Dance Festival in 2008 John Purcell Puleitu is currently an intern with ‘Black Grace Dance Company.’ John is also known as St. Janera a music artist and producer for ‘Know My Style Entertainment Limited‘ and has his own dance company called ‘GHOST Street Contemporary Dance Company.’ John was also a selected choreographer in the 2010 Pacific Dance New Zealand Choreographic Lab.

Olivia Taouma-Levy


Olivia Taouma-Levy is a professional freelance choreographer and dance teacher. She is currently the founder and Director of LIMA Dance Theatre and Productions, which has two shows in the Auckland Fringe Festival this year, ‘Mixed Nuts’ and ‘Take That!’ She is also the Head of Dance at the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts, (PIPA).  She trained for many years at LIMBS, now known as ‘The Performing Arts School,’ in Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary Dance. She also has had a lifetime of Samoan siva training and performing. She choreographed, performed and directed her first sell-out dance show, called ‘Words Unspoken,’ in 1996. She co-wrote Samoa’s Secondary Schools Performing Arts Curriculum as well as the University of Samoa’s Bachelor Degree and Certificate papers in performing arts.

Albert Tupuola – Tatau Dance Group


Founded and created by Victor Vitaliano in 2008, Tatau are a group of men linked through their Samoan Traditional Tattoo, called the pe’a, and their passion for Samoan dance.  Each member of Tatau have all been part of successful Pacific dance groups in the past years and are excited to come together and merge their talent in order to offer quality entertainment for everyone to enjoy.



Pacific Dance New Zealand in partnership with Dance Aotearoa NZ and the Pacific Arts Summit proudly presents the 2012 Pacific Dance Fono – Sustain Your Dance.

For the sixth year, Pacific Dance NZ will host this significant dance fono for New Zealand based Pacific dance practitioners. This year the fono will be launched with the keynote address from World renowned dance artist and choreographer Lemi Ponifasio, NZ Arts Laureate 2011 and artistic director of Mau Dance Company.

The fono will be an opportunity to hear from speakers who are involved in the maintenance, preservation, delivery and advancement of Pacific dance practices in New Zealand. It will be presented at the AUT Univeristy Manukau Campus and feature a number of speakers including Lemi Ponifasio (Mau), Susan Jordan (Regional Manager DANZ), Makerita Urale (CNZ), Tanya Muagututi’a (Pasifika Festival) and Iosefa Enari (PDNZ). The fono also features a range of local practitioners who will contribute to the fono, they include the 2012 Pacific artist in residence Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila, Lulu French (Pacific Muse), Terry Faleono (performance artist) as well as Ennaolla Paea (founding director of Street Dance New Zealand). This year the University of Auckland Dance Studies post graduate Pacific students Nita Latiu, Teuila Hughes and Seidah Karati will also make a presentation in response to this year’s theme.

Pacific Dance New Zealand director Iosefa Enari has delivered this fono for the past 6 years. “Each fono is planned with a theme to frame the day. Given the current economic environment and the difficulties facing our current artists to keep their businesses afloat, this year’s theme is apt,” states Enari. “We’re pleased to welcome all of this year’s speakers from the emerging and established voices of our community.”

This is an important event in the New Zealand dance calendar for all Pacific dance practitioners who wish to engage and network with the larger dance community. The range of academics, managers, hip hop performers, entertainers, cultural and contemporary choreographers and dancers make this year’s fono an exciting opportunity to network and hear from the various sectors of dance represented in the Auckland dance landscape.

The fono is held at the Manukau Campus Conference Centre, MD Building, Level 1, AUT Manukau site, 640 Great North Road on Saturday 19 May 2012. The fono will start at 10am – 4pm.

Director’s Note

Warm Pacific Greetings,

On behalf of the board members and staff of Pacific Dance NZ, welcome to the 6th Pacific Dance Fono. This fono is for all Pacific dance practitioners from the various cultures, genres and training sectors present here in Aotearoa. It is an opportunity for us to gather, discuss, share, learn and network. It is our pleasure to host this important fono and to give light to the practices of our esteemed panellists who will share their journeys and aspirations with us all.

I wish all the panellists well today and in celebrating their successes acknowledge this year’s theme of ‘sustainability’ to be an important issue facing our dance community given the current economic climate and shift in our cultural landscape. Dance is an essential part of Pacific cultures and a means to resonate the pride, identity and beauty of our cultures.  

I wish to express a big ‘fa’afetai lava’ to the partners and sponsors of today’s event, in particular to DANZ, CNZ, ASB Trust, Pacific Arts Summit and AUT for their support .

Iosefa Enari

Director – Pacific Dance New Zealand


Dance Aotearoa NZ

As a leadership organisation DANZ is pleased to continue to be a partner for the Pacific Dance Fono. This year’s theme on sustainability is vital to the continuation of all cultures.

We trust that the 2012 Fono will contribute to the vitality and development of Pacific dance in Aotearoa and we wish you well in all your discussions.

Dr Tania Kopytko

Executive Director – Dance Aotearoa New Zealand


10.00am         Registration 

10.15am         Welcome to AUT: Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop

10.25am         PDNZ Director: Iosefa Enari

10.35am         Performance by Pacific Muse: “Excerpt” (Choreography by Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French)

10.45am         DANZ Regional Manager: Susan Jordan

10.55am         Keynote Speaker: Lemi Ponifasio

11.15am         Performance by Aruna Po-Ching

11.20am         Panel 1

Panellists: Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French, Terry Faleono, Ennaolla Paea, Aruna Po- Ching

Facilitator: Susan Jordan

12.30pm         LUNCH

1.15pm           Performance by Terry Faleono and Peresitene Afato: “A”

1.20pm           Panel 2

Panellists: Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila, Tania Muagututia, Seidah Karati, Nita Latu

Facilitator: Ema Tavola

2.30pm           Open Discussion/Fono

3.00pm           Taualuga – Miss Samoa NZ 2011/12

Metotisi Komiti-Faalava’au

Networking will continue till 4pm.   

Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop

Tagaloatele Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop is Professor of Pacific Studies at AUT University.  She returned from Samoa in 2006 to head the Vaaomanu Pasifika Programme at VUW, and then moved to AUT end of 2009.  Peggy has been researching and publishing on Pacific education and development issues for over 30 years drawing on her New Zealand, Samoa and Pacific experiences as play school mother helper, primary school teacher, teachers college lecturer  (Wellington and Samoa) through to university lecturer and, her involvement in women’s and youth NGO community education  programmes. Peggy’s research mostly involves critiquing global models for their appropriateness to Pacific peoples especially how these influence the family systems.  Documenting oral stories is another research focus.

Lemi Ponifasio – MAU Dance Company

Lemi Ponifasio is the founding artistic director of MAU, New Zealand’s most prolific international contemporary dance theatre company. His works have been described as genius, powerful, frightening, beautiful and inspirational. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, MAU performs at major international theatres and festivals such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Theatre de la Ville Paris, the Holland Festival, the Venice Biennale and Vienna Festival.

Lemi was awarded the CNZ Choreographic Fellowship in 2008 and was awarded the Arts Laureate in 2011.

Susan Jordan – Dance Aotearoa NZ 

My life in dance started as a 7 year old and my first professional engagements were as a 10 year old dancing as an extra with NZ Ballet and Borovansky Ballet. I come from a dancing family where my sister and niece have had long professional careers as dancers and teachers. My first incarnation was as a performer of ballet with NZ Ballet and then contemporary dance with Impulse Dance Theatre. In my 30’s I studied for an MA in choreography at American University, Washington DC and went on to have an extensive career as a choreographer with many commissions and also forming my own company Jordan & Present Co. as well as tutoring at NZ School of Dance for 12 years.  Since moving to Auckland I established the graduate dance programme at University of Auckland and I am now Regional Manager for DANZ based in Auckland. Two of my current projects are establishing Dance Mobility (dance classes for 65+) and Show Motion, an organisation devoted to touring NZ dance and theatre in the Auckland region and beyond.

Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French

Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French is of Cook Islands descent, holds a Masters of (medical) Science degree and has been an instructor of Cook Islands dance in a number of dance groups, institutions and schools. In her youth she was junior dance champion in her home island of Aitutaki and since moving to Aotearoa has been part of a number of groups well known in New Zealand Polynesian dance circles – Ura Tabu, Pacific Expressions and the long standing group Anuanua Dance Troupe (of which she is still a member). As well as having performed at the secondary schools Polyfest, she now assists in choreographing for the James Cook High School Cook Islands group where she is also a science teacher. After the successful 2011 Pacific Dance NZ choreographic Lab, Tepaeru-Ariki has gone on to further develop her dance piece ‘Pacific Muse’ which featured in the opening night of 2012 Pacific Arts Summit.  Tepaeru-Ariki is becoming noticed for her distinct style of using the Cook Islands ‘Tamure’ which places emphasis on hip movements. Her goal is to attempt to find balance as she intertwines traditional and contemporary styles to portray messages within the dance.  To further develop Pacific Muse is part of a long-term goal as well as to work collaboratively with other Pasifika talents here in Aotearoa.

Terry Faleono

I was born in Western Samoa but raised up in the Capital of Polynesia, Mangele NZ. Mum was from Upolu and dad from the other Island of Savai’i. I went to school to play rugby and eat my lunch. A member of Mau Dance Company for 10 years before finding my passion as a soloist. My name begins with T. Let’s start being. Manuia.

Ennaolla Paea

Ennaolla Paea has been in the New Zealand dance scene since 2004 and is the Founding Director of Street Dance New Zealand, the presenters of the New Zealand National Dance Championships since 2007. Ennaolla is the director of LUMINOUS.DC (Dance Company), an emerging performance company. Passionate about seeing young people reach their full potential in all aspects of life, Ennaolla has developed as a dance director/choreographer, mentor, musician and performer to inspire and guide others to pursue their dreams and push past the boundaries of their perceived potential.

Aruna Po-Ching

Aruna is a Kumu Hula (Hawaiian hula teacher) based in Auckland. The very first hula halau (Hula School) in New Zealand’s history to be officially opened and blessed by one of Oahu’s famed Kumu Hula Blaine Kamalani Kia of the Lauakea Foundation. The halau was officially opened in 2010 teaching children, adults and seniors.  The classes are held in both central and south Auckland. Aruna also teaches amongst the community in community centers, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Aruna’s humble beginnings started with Pacific theatre in 1999 and have been involved in musicals, plays and have sung in bands singing in genres from rock to Afrikana ever since. Continually working in the arts for more than 20 years, Aruna freelances as a singer, actor and dance practitioner both nationally and internationally. 

Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila

Sesilia is a graduate of Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (P.I.P.A). Since then she has been teaching Tongan Music and Dance in Auckland and abroad for the past 11 years and is a member of the NZ Lomipaeu based in Auckland.  Sesilia was in the New Zealand short film “Manurewa” (Auckland Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival) which won the Crystal Bear Youth section at the 61stBerlin International Film Festival 2011. She played the lead role in “The kingdom of Lote” written by Suli Moa and produced by Kila Kokonut Krew in 2011. Sesilia was the first Tongan choreographer selected for the New Zealand Pacific Choreographic Lab in 2011 where she created and developed the first Tongan contemporary dance piece “Malie.” She has just finished a workshop developing her second dance theatre piece “Sei ‘o Fafine.” She was also the Project Manager for “MATALA – A celebration of Tongan Culture” festival in 2011 and will co-ordinate the festival for 2012 working together with the Tongan Artist Collective (T.A.C) which she helped establish in 2011.

Sesilia is the Pacific Dance Arts In Residence for 2012.

Tanya Muagututia

Manager/singer/songwriter of Christchurch performing arts collective Pacific Underground.  For the past five years, Tanya has been part of Auckland’s Pasifika Festival team as Artistic Coordinator and Communications coordinator, relocating permanently to Auckland after the earthquakes. 

In 2010 Tanya was Macmillan Brown Pacific Centre’s Pacific Artist in Residence at Canterbury University, and while there wrote a play called ‘Scholars’ and completed and released Pacific Underground’s latest CD “Island Summer” named after their live show.  The CD was nominated in 3 categories at last year’s Pacific Music Awards and the live show will travel to the Solomon Islands for the 11th Pacific Arts Festival in June. 

In 2013 Pacific Underground will celebrate the 20th anniversary since their very first theatre production ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ that opened in a small theatre in Christchurch’s Arts Centre, eventually touring to Wellington, Auckland, Samoa and Brisbane.  Since then a number of theatre, music shows and events have come out of Pacific Underground – including 10 years of hosting their very own annual Pacific Arts Festival – assisting and nurturing a wealth of New Zealand’s much loved artists in theatre, music and TV industries.

 Seidah Karati

I’m a Samoan/Cook Island female from West Auckland. I’m completing my Bachelor of Dance (Hons) at the University of Auckland. Last year, I was awarded a summer scholarship to conduct interviews in Samoa and NZ. The research was based around how Samoan dance and song can be preserved and taught to our young people here in New Zealand. This year in my Honors study, I want to explore how my Pacific tradition can influence hip-hop movement or vice versa. I hope to hybridize these styles in a way that is appropriate for both cultures. I am a member of Hopskotch Dance Company and have been fortunate enough to represent NZ at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas (2011). Our style is hip hop based and we like to employ contemporary ideas in our dances. I am passionate about my Pacific heritage, the Pacific peoples and the hip-hop culture I have been bought up in.

Nita Latu

I am 22 years old, full Tongan, born in NZ and attended Kelston Girls College where dance was not a subject. My main practice was in Hip-Hop and cultural dance and I have now moved into ‘contemporary’ dance. My passion is to teach dance, choreograph and run community dance projects. I’ve gained more knowledge of contemporary dance since attending the University of Auckland. This has led me to do Urban Youth Movement Project held by Black Grace Dance Company in 2010/2011. I have performed in the Tempo Dance Festival 2011 and won the People’s Choice award at the 2012 Short & Sweet Festival. I am very passionate about continuing to learn more about dance to further my career and passion for dance in the education and community sectors and to pursue my choreographic voice. 

 Ema Tavola – Pacific Arts Summit

Ema Tavola is the outgoing Pacific Arts Coordinator for Auckland Council (South). In this capacity, she manages and curates for Fresh Gallery Otara and has overseen the establishment and delivery of the annual Pacific Arts Summit. Ema is a freelance writer, curator and visual artist.

Pacific Dance Fono 2013

Background to the Fono

The Pacific Dance Fono has been an annual dance event since 2006 and is a forum for Pacific dance practitioners, choreographers, academics, managers and directors to discuss issues around Pacific dance especially relating to its place in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

2013 will be the seventh fono and will take place at the University of Auckland’s magnificent Fale Pasifika within the Pacific Studies department.  This year will also feature special keynote speaker and kumu hula Blaine Kamalani Kia from Hawai’i.

Kumu Blaine is the founder and president of the Ka Laua’e Foundation, a network of 15 halaus (hula schools) across the Pacific, America, Japan and most recently in New Zealand. Besides offering a wonderful knowledge of ancient Hawaiian hula, Kumu Blaine also offers experience in running a large dance organization and an idea, a theme, a knowing – as is outlined in his theme, “Ke Ao Lewa – The Realm of Consciousness”.

THEME: “Ke  Ao Lewa” The Realm of Consciousness

“Ke Ao Lewa” speaks volumes about how we are to be conscientious with who we are as a “people” striving, coping, and succeeding in the twenty-first century of a technological world.

“Ke Ao Lewa” requires us to open your eyes beyond the earth’s surface and gravitation of worldly influences and to look, seek beyond the human comprehension for many of our answers are in the realms of the clouds, the stars, the moon, and the heavens.  We are sometimes short-sighted and fail to look deeper into our consciousness when the art of Hawaiian dance can become vapid and lose its ‘mana’.  A world of knowledge is in the dance, from the dance, by the dance.  “Ao.” A realm of knowledge!

“Ke Ao Lewa” teaches us to always look beyond the human form.  To seek that which cannot be obtained by physical forms.  We must manifest ourselves in the realms of our ‘kupuna’ through the art of dance and allow ones senses to connect to the higher realms above.  This is the ultimate satisfaction.  To “know” you are a part of their realm of “Lewa.” A consciousness!

Kumu Blaine Kamalani Kia

From the director of PDNZ…

“Pacific Dance New Zealand is honoured to have Kumu Blaine Kia as this year’s keynote speaker and international guest. Kia follows a line of important speakers who have shaped the fono over the years to what it is today. Kumu Blaine will bring to this important event his own practical and philosophical position as to where dance is placed in the 21st century and its role in continuing to bridge the old and new worlds. These are vital notions when looking at dance as cultural milestones in our history and Pacific region. We look forward to this year’s event and the talanoa (discussion) that yields for our community here in New Zealand Aotearoa.”


Assoc Prof Damon SalesaKumu Blaine Kamalani KiaConsul General Jim Donegan


Friday 8th March,

10am – 10:30am

Opening address by Assoc. Prof. Damon Salesa (Fale Pasifika)

Opening address by U.S. Consul General Jim Donegan

10:30am – 12:30pm (Keynote address by Kumu Blaine Kamalani Kia and open discussion)

12:30pm – 1:00pm (lunch)

1:00pm – 3:00pm (Practical workshop)

3:00pm – 4:00pm (Plenary session)

4:00pm – 5:00pm (networking)


Fale Pasifika, Auckland University


Waged – $20 pre-registered, $25 on the day

Unwaged – $10 pre-registration, $15 on the day

To Register:

Email –

Phone – 09 376 00 60


Lalaga: Weaving Heritage Dance in the 21st Century

Pacific Dance Fono 2014

Whitireia Performing Arts Centre

Vivian St, Wellington Central

Saturday 2nd August, 10am – 5:00pm

How heritage dance is sustained in Aotearoa by and for its Pacific diaspora.The fono looks at issues faced by our communities, models currently being practiced by practitioners and the long term sustainability of our art-forms for new generations.

The Pacific Dance Fono offers a varied programme starting with the morning programme looking at ‘Growing Your Arts Business’ run by the Pacific Business Trust. This is an introductory workshop where you will find out about IRD obligations, ideas around business management and setup processes.

This would be beneficial for all artists, community groups, new graduates but also for more established practitioners.  And, it’s free!!

Facilitated by Sefa Enari (PDNZ), Maureen Tukaroa-Betham (PBT Wellington) and Zecharaiah Reuelu (PBT Wellington)

The afternoon programme features a keynote address by the 2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence – Tuaine Robati – who shares his experiences about teaching heritage dance and reports back on his residency #PUERA.

We also meet Eddie Soro from Vou Fiji, Fiji’s most prolific contemporary dance company. Who not only talks about running a dance company in the islands but also ends our day by running a master class in the Fijian Meke.

Sesilia Pusiaki is a Tongan heritage dance practitioner who is carrying on a thousand year old tradition passed through her family. From the family environment to stage, she has successfully made the transition.

Emalani Case (Hawaiian hula) and Veronica Vaovasa (Tokelauan Fatele) talk about maintaining their own heritage dance within the Pacific diaspora.

This leads into a discussion facilitated by Tania Kopytko (Executive Director DANZ) around models for maintaining heritage dance in the 21st Century.

We also feature dance works by Whitireia New Zealand students and the Wellington Kiribati community Group.

Our action packed day ends with a discussion around what heritage artists needs are for the future and our practical master class with Eddie Soro, just to shake everything into action.



10:00am – Registrations

10:30am – Pacific Business Trust Workshop (Growing Your Arts Business)

12:00pm – Break

12:40pm – Whitireia Performing Arts Group- Student Works and the beginning of the Pacific Dance Fono

1:00pm – Fono Keynote Address – Tuaine Robati (2014 PAcific Dance Artist in Residence)

1:20pm – Presenter 1 – Eddie Soro – VOU Dance Company

1:35pm – Presenter 2 – Sesila Pusiaki – Pukepuke O Tonga

1:50pm – Emalani Case (Hawaiian hula), Veronica Vaovasa (Tokelauan Fatele)

2:05pm – Kiribati Community Dance

2:15pm – Discussion – Models of Heritage Dance Maintenance, Facilicator Dr Tania Kopytko – DANZ

2:55pm – Afternoon tea

3:10pm – Breakout Groups – Weaving Paths – feedback about heritage dance futures

3:40pm – Plenary

4:00pm – Master Class Eddie Soro – Fiji Meke

5:00pm – End

To register or enquire about this fono please email or phone 09 376 00 60.