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Dive Into The Words Of Te-moana-nui-a-kiwa With Upu At Circa Theatre

Making its Wellington debut as part of the Kia Mau Festival, the highly acclaimed UPU takes over the Circa stage with Oceania’s most electrifying poetry, performed by a star-studded cast from 15-19 June.


Led by powerhouse director Fasitua Amosa, some of Aotearoa’s finest actors including Jarod Rawiri, Miriama McDowell, Maiava Nathaniel Lees, Mia Blake, Ana Corbett, Shadon Meredith and Gaby Solomona breath life into the work from writers of Te-Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa including Ben Brown, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Albert Wendt, Karlo Mila, Hone Tuwhare, Tusiata Avia, Sia Figiel, and Tayi Tibble.

These words as performed by these incredible actors’ give voice to issues from a Pasifika perspective. Traversing climate change, politics, colonisation, gender, sex, and identity, UPU also gifts the experience of hearing the work of some of our finest Tangata o le Moana writers, curated by award-winning poet Grace Taylor.

“A main part of our kaupapa is to inspire people to dive into Pacific literature, to libraries – by bringing the published word to the stage through the oral word… there is so much richness of published poetry from Oceania – but unless you are at uni or in an academic environment you probably will not access it… many audience members over our last two seasons said ‘we just didn't know this poetry existed’.” – Grace Taylor as told to Faith Wilson for Pantograph Punch. Full article here www.pantograph-punch.comUPU

Audiences are also immersed in a bubble of the moana for UPU as the theatre is flooded with light and projection of mamanu and original sound composition from Faiumu Matthew Salapu (Anonymouz).

“Enticing moments of ensemble work display how dramatisation of poetry can humanise
words from a page”
NZ Herald

“The performance proceeds with urgency, voices separating into individual perspectives as poems reveal the nuances of cultures across Moana Oceania”. 
– Theatrescenes

“The performance itself aids the very issue that it highlights, by giving all the beautiful works of Pacific literature that have gone astray, a platform to be performed and most importantly, heard”
– The 13th Floor

UPU plays as part of the Kia Mau Festival:
Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Wellington
15 – 19 June
Tues: 6.30pm, Fri – Sat: 8pm

Originally commissioned by Auckland Arts Festival in conjunction with Silo Theatre
Funded by Creative New Zealand

For the full programme of events visit

Bios of the performers/creatives and hi-res imagery available via Dropbox


© Scoop Media

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