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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 61st Berlin 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.