Manu Malo

ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

01/06/2023 - 03/06/2023

Pacific Dance Festival 2023

Production Details

Director - Aloali´i Tapu
Lighting design - Sean Curham
Costume design - Tori Manley-Tapu


Ta’alili and Pacific Dance Festival presents MANU MALO.

A debris of memories reveals the accumulation of community and the evolution of language from the tongue through the body. For Tapu, this language mimics the climate of the ocean and sky, dancing and speaking in the rhythm of nature’s song, sitting close to the earth, holding it close to the chest and listening to the ocean wash dreams ashore. Tapu enters the stage with family, friends and guests from Samoa, Aotearoa/New Zealand and Hamburg. Between dreams and imaginings, the performers return to an origin that is undefined, remembering the history they are bringing to the stage, and search for moments of being one.

A co-production with K3 | Tanzplan Hamburg and Pacific Dance NZ.
Funded by Creative NZ, Peacocke Dance Trust and Hamburgische Kulturstiftung.

Hosted at the ASB Waterfront Theatre at 8PM on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of June.
Adult $70
Senior $55
Concession $45
Group 10+ $45
Student $45

Director - Aloali´i Tapu
Folasaitu Meki Tapu
Gifty Lartey
Jahra Wasasala
Ken Vaega
Ooshcon Masseurs
Seidah Tuaoi
Talili Manley-Tapu

Prop builder - John Harris
Project and tour management - Sasha Gibb
Music and Sound: Eden Mulholland, Villa Lemanu, Say3 (New Day), Spewer aka Olivia Luki, Voice of Mable Lartey, Voices of Vou Dance Company

Tavai Fa'asavalu
Aloali´i Tapu
Tori Manely-Tapu

Dance , Contemporary dance , Pasifika contemporary dance ,

60 minutes

Winning, victorious show.

Review by Dr Lefaoali’i Dion Enari 07th Jun 2023

Manu Malo (Samoan) loosely translated to English means to win or victorious. A great way to describe this work, as it won over the crowd on its first night. The opening scene is powerful, with the grandfather lying down, and reciting lyrics to a classic Samoan song. For Samoan speakers, this made us reflect upon the lyrics more deeply and added another dimension to a household tune. For non-Samoan speakers, it is a mystical encounter with the third most spoken language in Aotearoa, New Zealand (Enari & Taula, 2022). 

Overall, the show is witty, fresh and well executed. A beautiful movement fusion of Samoan, Krump, locking, hip hop, vogue and everything in between. There are powerful moments when Samoan siva (dance) is fused with locking, and when the dancers move whilst having water balloons popped on them. There is an excellent piece of intergenerational performative work between a grandfather, parents and child. A definite highlight for me and others has to be the last dancer, Jahra Wasasala, her choreography is ingenious, unorthodox and highly athletic with exorcist-like body movement. She definitely shows me tricks I never knew the human body could do.  

Although there is little to no English spoken in this piece, many non-Samoans feel the journey this show takes them on. From laughing along to the humorous movements, to being captivated by synchronised contemporary choreography. The show brings the warmth of my island home, whilst also showcasing the contemporary reality of Pacific people in the diaspora. I believe the show will be strengthened with shorter solo’s and allowing the grandfather to dance, as this will provide a well-rounded intergenerational smorgasbord of movement. Manu Malo has something for everyone, whether you are a Samoan Chief, Caucasian dancer or just an enthusiastic fan of the arts, this show has got you. It’s part of the Pacific dance Festival, so be sure to check out the other acts. 

Manu Malo is an important addition to the ever growing body of Pacific work, in our languages. May Manu Malo inspire other Pacific people to know that their stories and creativity belong on the stage. May it also be a statement to the rest of Aotearoa, that our Pacific narratives and arts are here to stay, now and forever. Alofa atu. 


Enari, D., & Taula, L. (2022). Tattoo my mouth: Samoan language survival in Australia. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples18(1), 215-218.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo