Participants in this year's fono...
Participants in this year's fono...

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 download the form from - Here - and return to or email for any enquiries.

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 Muaiava, John 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.