New Zealand High Commission Suva, Fiji

Cultural Diplomacy in Suva

Ta'aroa Pacific Ballet of Creation

Public diplomacy and reinforcing the strong people-to-people linkages between New Zealand and Fiji is an important focus for the New Zealand High Commission.

We were delighted, along with other institutions, to provide funding for the production “Ta’aroa - Pacific Ballet of Creation.” Produced by the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, the production presented creation mythologies from Tahiti, Samoa and Aoteara New Zealand as exciting theatre.

Combining Pacific voices, live music and dance, “Ta’aroa” played to full houses and received widespread acclaim in April. The production was directed by the talented Allan Ailani Alo Va’ai, who has long established linkages with New Zealand. This was Allan’s swansong in Suva before he departs for fresh fields.

The final act of the ballet told the seminal story from Māori mythology of the separation of earth (Papatuanuku) and sky (Ranginui) by their rebellious children.

Simon Bennett, husband of the high commission’s Emma Dunlop-Bennett, served as cultural adviser to this part of the production. Simon also made his stage debut as a dancer, leading an energetic haka that enthralled audiences and gained him a strong fan base.

We were pleased to see Māori mythology presented in a Pacific context and parallels drawn with Tahitian and Samoan culture.

New Zealand film was also showcased in Suva with the first public screening in Fiji of Taika Waititi’s movie “Boy”.

Released to critical and popular success in 2010, this is now the most successful New Zealand film ever made. A wide range of high commission contacts attended a reception and screening of the film at the Village 6 multiplex on 6 April.

This was followed by screenings at the University of the South Pacific and Fiji National University. It was a delight to see a New Zealand film strike a strong chord with Fijian audiences, generating laughter and tears in equal measure.

We would like to thank the New Zealand Film Commission for lending us a copy of “Boy”.

 

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