Fatu Na Toto - Planted Seeds

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

18/02/2013 - 22/02/2013

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

12/10/2013 - 12/10/2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2013

TEMPO Dance Festival 2013

Production Details

Devised by Tupe Lualua

Co-presented by Tempo and Pacific Dance NZ
Le Moana Productions

Fatu Na Toto (planted seeds) is an original work devised by Tupe Lualua and co-presented by Tempo and Pacific Dance NZ. This work explores the effects of migration expressed through the language of Siva Samoa and Samoan song. A picture is painted of a migrant family living in suburbia and living through the contributing influences affecting the family and the impact this has on a new generation being raised in a new land.

Lualua weaves a narrative with oratory, music, song and dance creating an uplifting, sometimes dramatic and moving portrayal of a story which sits close to the bone. This work has been heavily influenced by Lualua’s community upbringing in Porirua, Wellington. It is an interpretation of her own family’s story and what they discovered during their journey in search of a “better” life.

This work premiered in Wellington during the Fringe Festival February 2013, and this will be its Auckland launch


“People migrate to different parts of the world, different societies in the world may affect culture, but the culture will live on through the love, strength and commitment of the people“

Fatu na Toto (Planted seeds) explores the effects of migration.
Expressed through the language of Siva Samoa, a picture is painted of a migrant family living in suburbia.  And the contributing influences that affect the family and the impact that they have on the generation being raised in this environment.
This work has been heavily influenced by the community and upbringing of the choreographer.  It is an interpretation of her parents and what they discovered during their journey in search of a “better” life. 

— Tupe Lualua (Savaia, Lefaga,  Luatuanu’u Samoa, Waitangirua, Porirua)

Tupe’s dance career started at EFKS Ketesemane in Porirua.  From an early age, she was performing Siva Samoa.  By the age of 13, she was part of the church youth group that toured Hawaii and Samoa, performing alongside her parents and older siblings.

As a dancer at Whitireia performing arts, Tupe has performed at Festivals in Kuala Lumpur, Belgium, France, Italy, Australia, Tahiti, New Caledonia, Rapanui, Vietnam, China, and has presented choreographed works at Festivals in Spain, Canada and USA. 

Tupe has also starred in several television commercials, BATS season of Hedda Gabler, playing Julia Tesman, Poly-Zygotic with FIT productions (Pick of the fringe 2009) and “The Factory – A Pacific Musical” by the Kila Kokonut Krew where she played the part of Lagi. 

Since 2009, Tupe has returned to Whitireia New Zealand as a Lecturer of Samoan Performing Arts, in the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Performing Arts) Programme.

See http://tupelualua.wix.com/fatunatoto


Wellington Fringe cast, February 2013

Julien Lameka Nehemia,Taofi Mose-Tuiloma, Ian Lesã, Moana Leota, Kane Leaupepe, Jordan Jean Fuimaono, TJ Manase Fereti, Whena Maria Puaula, Pauline Filoi Tanielu-Sauvao, Saufoi Tua Faavale, Filoi Vailaau, Te Hau Wairua o Panekiri Winitana

Tempo cast, October 2013

Matua - Falemua Tolua Lualua

Julien Lameka Nehemia, Jordan Jean Fuimaono, TJ Manase Fereti,  Te Hau Wairua o Panekiri Winitana, Ian Les, ãAmanda Noblett, Filoi Vailaau Callum Sefo, Karey Vaifale, Katie Chadwick, Whena Maria Puuaula, Moana Leota, Pauline Filoi Tanielu-Sauvao

Musicians: Taelega John Taufao, Sonny Miti, Atapana Meleisea

1 hour

Samoan dance theatre a moving experience

Review by Raewyn Whyte 14th Oct 2013

Q’s Loft is filled to capacity for the Auckland premiere of choreographer/director Tupe Lualua’s new work Fatu na Toto – Planted seeds, presented by Le Moana Productions. Most of the very appreciative audience is Samoan, proud to celebrate a Samoan language production and support friends and family from Porirua who comprise the cast.  Audience members who have no Samoan language can nevertheless understand the key themes and issues and be moved by the way these issues are raised and resolved.

Appearing inTempo Dance Festival with the support of Pacific Dance New Zealand, the work draws on experiences of migration to New Zealand in the 1950s, along with those of New Zealand born generations, themes which have also been explored previously in theatrical works such as The Factory (Kila Kokonut Krew) and Gathering Clouds (Black Grace). Here they are grouped in four sections: Rites of passage, Change, Journey, and Truth.

We see the decision to leave Samoa for New Zealand, preparation for departure and the challenges faced on arrival, the shock of factory work, anger at the way the new migrants are treated by their employers and by New Zealanders in general. A constant thread is the counsel provided by their Matua (Falemua Tolua Lualua) about how best to cope with the period of transition – always remembering your culture and serving its purpose with love and respect.  We experience social gatherings, new relationships, the impact of alcohol, family violence, the loss of a husband to death, the craving of a teenage daughter to know what her parents have been through, to learn Samoan language and come to terms with her cultural heritage.

Each vignette combines some text with music and dance derived from traditional Samoan forms, and while the Matua’s oratory has ultimate cultural authority, women’s voices bring their personal experience into the arena of the theatre in ways which enrich their dialogical exchanges with his advice.  Three musicians (Taelega John Taufa, Sonny Miti and Atapana Melisea) provide accompaniment with guitar, log drum and vocals, and while recorded instrumental music provides a backdrop of sound,  a number of songs are purely a capella. There are traditional cultural songs,  a some hymns, some Elvis inspired ballads, and a heartfelt delivery of Que Sera Sera.

Sasa, siva, fa’a taupati and taualuga are staged in ways which honor the requirements for men and women to dance in their own separate spaces. Subtle contemporary variations are very cleverly woven into the movement vocabulary and interaction patterns of the choreography to indicate the continuing adjustment of traditional forms and values in the New Zealand social context, and the passing of time from the 1950s to the present.

Tupe Lualua is the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence this  this year, so it is likely that we will have opportunities to see more of her work before too long. There will be much interest in her next production.


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Harnessing the old and the new to enlarge the world

Review by Jennifer Shennan 19th Feb 2013

Fatu Na Toto, conceived and directed by Tupe Lualua, is delivered by a cast of 14 vibrant performers who declaim, dance, drum and sing the experiences of Tupe’s parents’ as migrants from Samoa to New Zealand. Just as the parents did, this work sails in a new direction, and enlarges the world.

The taupou, a much-esteemed female role in Samoan village life, is no doubt Tupe’s mother… and her grandmothers.  As the voice of old Samoa, Tolua Lualua, delivering oratory, is no doubt her father … and her grandfathers.

In fragments of dance he shows the strength of male presence, with his brief transition to the female’s graceful style of siva marking a high point of Samoan performance for important cultural occasions. The rolled fala is drummed by TJ Manase Fereti, a powerful, impeccable timekeeper throughout.

Male and female contrasts alternate through the experiences depicted in dance, each twinned with a song, and interspersed with narrative in Samoan. Such power and such grace. Sasa and fa’a taupati, siva and taualuga …these forces are complementary, not in opposition. The occasional aiuli, clumsy clown, only elevates them in the contrast.

The move to a new country entails much challenge, well known to the many Polynesian communities now established here, and to migrants everywhere … secrets of domestic incidents, and the boredom of repetition at the factory bench. But the value of education for the next generation, often stated as the motivation for migration, is a reward for hardships endured.  Sacrifices and justification.

Tupe Lualua offers a measured take on these themes, accepting the way things are (the song Que sera, sera is beautifully rendered) and yet aching to capture and keep the best  of all that went before, at cultural and family level. She has triumphed by finding a way to harness the old dances of her heritage with the forces operating in the new land, and the newly choreographed sequences sit well within that context.

The dedication of the work to the memory of her mother is heartfelt.

The imagery of gardening in the title, with the notion of one generation composting another, rings true. Inside us the dead.

Credit to Whitireia Perfoming Arts, which has always encouraged the harnessing of  the new to the old. Bats Theatre is resourcefully camping out while their home across town is revamped. Wellington’s Fringe Festival is up and running.  Talofa lava.


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