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Wellington dancer exploring role of young men in traditional Sāmoan society

Press Release – Creative New Zealand

Wellington Pacific dancer and choreographer Tupe Lualua will embark on a journey exploring the traditional role of the taule’ale’a (untitled man) within the village community as the 2019 Creative New Zealand Sāmoa Artist in Residence.

The three month residency is offered in partnership with the National University of Sāmoa with support from the New Zealand High Commission in Apia. It offers a chance for mid-career or established New Zealand artists of Pacific heritage to develop their skills and practice.

Tupe has travelled to Sāmoa over the last few years with her dance company Le Moana for community outreach programmes at local schools and special performances. She will research the role of the taule’ale’a and the aumaga (the social class of untitled men) acknowledging how vital their indigenous knowledge is for the ecology of Sāmoan culture and society.

“The aumaga are responsible for the labour intensive duties, including working the ma’umaga (plantation), fishing, building, cooking, attending to the everyday needs of the elders and continuous service to the wider village community,” says Tupe.

As part of the residency, Tupe will be spending time with aumaga and taule’ale’a across different villages to create and teach a choreographed work based on their movements and experiences. She hopes to “shine the light on the aumaga and the importance of the taule’ale’a in Sāmoan society.”

Her late father Matua I Falemua Tolua Lualua and late cousin Pili Tilo Lualua were the driving inspirations behind her residency project.

“I learned a lot about performing Siva Sāmoa from my father and then became amazed at his knowledge of Sāmoan flora and fauna during a visit to Lefaga in 2011. His stories of the plantation were embodied through our everyday interactions with my cousin Pili” says Tupe.

“Tupe’s work is significant as it highlights the importance of strengthening connections between our Pacific communities and Aotearoa and our motherlands,” says Arts Council Deputy Chair Caren Rangi.

“Tupe’s work with her local community of Porirua as well as Sāmoa is impressive, so we are very fortunate to be able to support her with this significant opportunity supporting New Zealand Pasifika artists as we continue to implement our five-year Pacific Arts Strategy.”

The annual residency is funded by Creative New Zealand and provides NZD$15,000 for the artist towards an artist stipend, accommodation and travel costs.

Previous recipients have included Ioane Ioane, Lemi Ponifasio, Yuki Kihara, Fiona Collins and Nathaniel Lees.

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