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Spectacular opening for Pasifika Festival

MEDIA RELEASE
25 January 2005

Spectacular opening night planned for Pasifika Festival

The Air New Zealand Opening Night concert for Pasifika Festival 2005 is promising a snapshot of some of the festival’s hottest performers in a show that will surprise, entertain and showcase the vast array of Pasifika performing arts, from traditional song and dance to contemporary dance, opera, jazz-funk, R’n’B, and rock.

The concert will be held at Western Springs Stadium at 7.30pm on Friday 11 March.

The Ta’akoka Dance Troupe, one of the Cook Islands’ pre-eminent traditional dance groups, will open the concert. The troupe is flying to New Zealand specifically to perform at the festival.

At the more contemporary end of the dance spectrum is Pasifik Xpressions. This popular group merge Pacific dance with Latino rhythms and house beats. Led by former Miss South Pacific, Mary Jane McKibbin, the group will set the night alight with a rousing fire dance which includes a surprising twist.

The first part of the evening will be MCed by NIU FM drive host Sela Alo. He has a huge following for his show and is considered one of the hottest DJs in Auckland.

Wesley Boys College, consistent winners of the Tongan section at Polyfest for the past five years, will also be performing at Pasifika Festival for the first time.

Three beautiful and wonderfully talented divas, Wairere, Julie Ta’ale and Sela Mahe, will be providing some smooth sounds. Watch out for these girls because they are expected to have a huge future in Pacific and international music!

Sela Mahe is an outstanding vocalist, a finalist in the first NZ Idol and the star of Idolised which toured New Zealand in July 2004. She is also well known as fiancée to Ben Lummis, NZ Idol.

Julie Ta’ale is a new soloist whose popular single “Love will lead us back” is now creating a buzz over the airwaves. Julie was a member of girl group Pacific Soul who won the Best Pacific Album at the NZ Music awards 2003.

The newest star to grace the stage this year will be Wairere. Recently turned 16, this accomplished musician stole the show at the Pasifika auditions. With a voice comparable to Beyoncé, Wairere promises to be the next Brooke Fraser.

Back by popular demand, Ben Makisi will be featuring at the Air New Zealand Opening Night concert and on Saturday. After performing last year in the lead role of Ferrando for the New Zealand Opera touring production of Cosi Fan Tutte, Ben returned to Australia, where his Christmas engagements included Carols at the Sydney Olympic Village and a Christmas performance at St. Andrew's Cathedral. This month, Ben travels to Barcelona to compete in the prestigious Tenor competition judged by Placido Domingo.

For the more serious minded musical fans the Air New Zealand Opening Night concert will feature two exciting bands. ID is a jazz fusion band in the vein of Jamoriquai and is led by one of New Zealand’s foremost Jazz guitarists Dixon Nacey. To complete the sweep of musical genres at the concert is the mighty Chook Pea who will demonstrate to the audience that Pasifika rocks!

The inaugural Pacific Music Awards will be an impressive awards show designed to round off a memorable night. Nominations are currently being collated and finalists will be announced towards the end of February.

The 2005 Pasifika Festival is the grand finale of the inaugural three week ‘Celebrate Pasifika’ event which will include exhibitions and performances in film, theatre, arts and crafts as well as some great sporting action.

Pasifika Festival is being held at Western Springs on 11 and 12 March. It starts on Friday with the Air New Zealand Opening Night Concert at the stadium and continues on Saturday with a full day of performances, entertainment and festivities at the stadium and adjacent park.

Pasifika Festival is one of more than 60 free events provided by Auckland City as part of the Ak@Play summer events programme, and is sponsored by Air New Zealand, SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand), Radio 531pi, The New Zealand Herald, Department of Labour, Creative New Zealand, APRA, and the New Zealand Music Industry Commission (NZMIC).

Ends

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