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2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence Comes to a Close

For Immediate Release

2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence Comes to a Close

Wednesday 25th June

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is in its fifth year and this year Cook Islands master dance artist Tuaine-Nurse Tamarua Robati ONZM, MEd (VUW), BA (VUW), Dip Teach, Dip TESL (VUW) worked with high school students from the Porirua area over a two-month period to create several dance works.

Robati worked with several apprentices, all Whitireia graduates who he has previously taught, to deliver a comprehensive dance development programme in which his ideas were bound under the concept PUERA. He explains;

“For me it was about reigniting the passion for being of Cook Islands descent and hopefully through PUERA cover aspects of Cook Islands culture - P for Peu Maori as in the way we do things, Ura being dance technique, Evangelia we need to acknowledge the spiritual side of our culture which is steeped in Christianity, Rakei is creative costumes working with fresh material (leaves and greenery) that young people don't really get an opportunity to work with; and Akateni gives some teenagers the opportunity to work on drums, ukulele or guitar.”

Peu - Culture and Customs

Ura - Dance

Evangelia - Spirituality

Rakei - Costuming

Akateni - Music and Instruments

He explains the reasoning for having apprentices do much of the teaching.

“I see my role as empowering them for the knowledge they've already got and developing them to be good tutors for the community in developing them further from what they've already learnt. I think the more people we can empower to deliver, research and create the more dynamic our culture will be.”

Several dozen students came through the programme and gained insights into Cook Islands dance they may not have gained from being involved in other groups.

Tupe Lualua, the 2013 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence currently doing an internship with Pacific Dance New Zealand to complete her masters has been overseeing the running of the residency. She explains further;

“It's given them [the participants] an opportunity to learn the mechanics of the heritage dance. It's assumed a lot of the time that because you come from a Pacific island culture you already know how to dance and you see that happen in community or church groups where they play a drum and assume everything will be all right. But we actually teach technique, structure and conceptual ideas about the hows and whys of the dance. That's the benefit of learning under someone like Tuaine, because he has the experience to deliver that.”

Robati has had several decades experience of teaching both general education and dance. He's also been a stalwart at Whitireia New Zealand for many years and also taught Lualua, herself a Whitireia graduate.

Lualua explains her feelings about the programme, “it's been great to see the younger ones stand up and take control of teaching the next generation and passing on the knowledge that Tuaine has given them. I've also seen a lot of the kids grow and put their heads up.”

She also relates that the general community has also been enjoying the workshops,

“You see the older community bringing in their drums and singing along. I've loved going along to the workshops myself and I'm quite sad that they're going to finish this week because I'll be missing-out on being surrounded by Pacific Islands dance two-days a week.”

Looking ahead Robati is optimistic about where things could go.

“Looking further down the track maybe the Polyfest for the Kapiti/Kapi Mana area I could see that PUERA could represent the Cook Islands component which is of all the four main schools in this area rather than four individual schools. I think it's about time now we come together. I'd rather have a team of one-hundred and give these kids the chance to connect with each other also.”

The 2014 Pacific Dance Artist in Residence is supported by Pacific Dance New Zealand, DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand), Creative New Zealand & Pataka Art and Museum, with venue support from the Porirua Cook Islands Association.

The apprentices involved with the residency are: George Teinakore George, Parris Kaitai, Te Hau Winitana and Julien Lameka Nehemia (Meka).

The Pacific Dance Artist in Residence closing will be held on Saturday 28th June at Pataka Museum at 630pm. This will be a community celebration of the residency, will include performances by the participants of the residency workshops and be officially closed by the Deputy High Commissioner of the Cook Islands Ms Tepaeru Herrmann.


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