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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:

Peu    - Culture and Customs
Ura - Dance
Evangelia - Spirituality
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 – info@pacificdance.co.nz, 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:

Peu    - Culture and Customs
Ura - Dance
Evangelia - Spirituality
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 Zealand, DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand), Creative New Zealand & Pataka Art and Museum.

For Media enquiries email – info@pacificdance.co.nz, ph: 09 376 00 60