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Christchurch Pacific City

July 25, 2005

Christchurch Pacific City

Co-founding members of Pacific Underground, Pos Mavaega and Oscar Kightley are reunited in Pacific Underground’s Island Summer at the Applaud Christchurch Arts Festival on Thursday 4 August, at the Isaac Theatre, 7.30pm.

This time the roles are reversed as the TV3 personality, and co-creator of comedy animation series BroTown appears under the direction of Mavaega, Pacific Underground’s Musical Director who has brought together a 25piece guitar orchestra to play and sing traditional and original songs of the Pacific.

It was in December of 1998 in Oscar Kightley’s play Dawn Raids at Christchurch’s Court 2, that the pair last worked together on stage, with Kightley playing the lead role of Sione, and Mavaega playing his side kick character called Fingers - a no-nonsense, no-talking, guitar player - who spoke only through his guitar.

Pacific Underground’s first ever theatre production was ‘Fresh Off The Boat” co-written by Kightley and Simon Small, which was published earlier this year by the Play Press - 12 years after it’s first season in 1993. Kightley ’s busy schedule still enabled him to celebrate the launch of the book in February at the Lima-Pacific Arts festival. Again, Kightley’s busy schedule means, he travels to Christchurch mid-way through shooting a documentary in the Pacific.
“It’s awesome to have Oscar on board this project. He’s supported the Music Production team since day one, and still does” says Mavaega, but Kightley reassures, “ -no, it’s not just that, I love hearing Pos play those old Island songs, that’s the main reason why I want to be in the show.”

Island Summer is a journey through the eyes of Kightley’s character - one that represents the first generation of Pasifika people to New Zealand. With music played by the guitar orchestra, Kightley reminisces about life back home in a tiny Pacific Island village, and the departure from it for a journey of new beginnings, and opportunity. His moving account of the village he left behind through to when the new generation returns in the 3 act show, is a retelling of the journey made by many Pasifika people to New Zealand.

Also featuring in Island Summer are Samoan R&B artists ADEAZE who also accepted the invitation to take part with no hesitation, but they too have a busy schedule, including a concert in Sydney a week before the show.
During a visit to Christchurch at the end of 2003, they had heard the rehearsal tapes from the first version of Island Summer that appeared at the 2003 Christchurch Arts Festival in the Telecom Pavillion.
“…they were asking me who it was if they could be in this one. That kind of blew me away.” says Mavaega.

Pos’ inspiration for Island Summer comes from the ideal of communication through music. The story telling within the music of Samoa, in hymns, old ballads and chants has survived the migration of the parents of many NZ Born Samoans. “When our parents left their Island homes back in the late 40’s and 50s, it was the music and culture they brought with them, that is celebrated in this show” says Mavaega, “…playing the music that I grew up with, without anything other than guitars was something I could hear in my head quite clearly, and I knew it hadn’t been done before on this scale.”

Playing guitar since a young age, Pos began his role as Musical Director on Victor Roger’s play Sons, at Court 2 in 1995. Following on came Erolia Ifopo and Kightley’s comedy Romeo and Tusi, (which began it’s main-bill format at the Christchurch City Council’s Summer Times Theatre Season in 1997 then toured all over New Zealand up until 2001), and 2 seasons of Kightley’s Dawn Raids. But, the theatre projects were merely slot in between the numerous musical projects that Pos spent most of his time working on.

The P.U.M.P band had it’s beginnings in the organisation as ‘Pacific underground Connection’, a five piece R&B band that played regularly and had residencies in the early ‘90’s at the notorious ‘Worcester Bar’, ‘Daniels Nite Club and ‘The Edge Nightclub’, as well as regular spots at the Dux.

The mid ‘90’s saw Pos and core PUMP band member on drums, Chris Searle, play and support up and coming musicians providing a well known rhythm section that soon lent it’s stylings to Pacific Underground’s one and only CD recording - Landmark.

Landmark received excellent reviews nationwide including accolades for Pos as producer leading “the country’s most supple rhythm section” as described by the Listener’s Nick Bollinger. The compilation features first time recordings from NZ Hip Hop artist Scribe, and Antsman (Rhombus, Nomad), of the Christchurch Hip Hop collective Beats’n’Pieces’. Landmark also features skits from the creators of TV3’ BroTown - the ‘Naked Samoans’. The core group of P.U.M.P being Pos, with singer/song writer Tanya Muagututi’a, and drummer Chris Searle, they were able to include original songs in the compilation also.

Music highlights for Pos include ‘Soul Defined’ - a 15 piece soul band that covered popular soul and Motown songs, ‘Landmark’, support for Ben Harper and Vika & Linda, and ‘Island Summer’ played in Palau, and being part of the NZ Delegation to the Pacific Arts Festival of 2004.

Joining Pos at the helm is Choreographer/Director Siaosi Mulipola, who will choreograph singers and dancers from the Samoan Methodist Youth Group, and guest dancers Corinna Hunziker (Atamira Dance) and Mata’ina Leiataua.
The guitars, ukuleles, a slide guitar, a double bass, percussion and voices combine to create a sound as fresh as frangipani.

For full festival details, visit the “Applaud” Christchurch Arts Festival 2005 website, www.artsfestival.co.nz, or collect a copy of the quirky purple programme from outlets around the country or by phoning 0800 ARTS 05.

ENDS

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