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Oceanic poetry to make waves on national tour

'UPU' transports audiences across an ocean to hear the voices dealing with colonisation, family, climate change, love, sex, religion, power & tourists.

Developed from its first outing at Basement Theatre in 2018 and following further award-winning large-scale productions in both Auckland and Wellington, UPU will tour to five centres across Aotearoa (Rotorua - Wednesday 18 October) as part of the Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ) touring programme.

Curated by award-winning poet Grace Iwashita-Taylor and directed by Fasitua Amosa (Best Director, Wellington Theatre Awards), UPU presents almost forty Oceanic texts brought to life by a cast of seven of our best Tagata Moana actors: Maiava Nathaniel Lees (The Matrix Reloaded), Mia Blake (The Tattooist), Ana Corbett (Totally Completely Fine), Shadon Meredith (King Lear), James Maeva (Mortal Kombat), Nicola Kāwana (One Lane Bridge) and Nora Aati (Duck Rockers).

The tour will transform stages across Aotearoa into moana by the power of storytelling, connecting islands and people with song-like verses taken from noteworthy poets including Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Hone Tuwhare and Craig Santos Perez. The nuanced and wide-reaching poetry spans topics from colonisation, family, love, religion, and the impact of climate change on the people of the Moana.

The 2020 season at Q Theatre presented with Silo Theatre, and a sell-out season in Wellington at the Kia Mau Festival in June 2021, were both highly celebrated. Undoubtedly, UPU creates connections and a profound impact on audiences.

“UPU is a pathway towards our Māori and Pacific literature pioneers who have paved a way for our stories in the past, retold and relived in the present, so that we can collectively work together on how our stories progress forward in the future.” - Theatrescenes

Director of UPU Fasitua Amosa has starred in a variety of New Zealand films and television series, as well as a number of theatrical roles. He portrays Sika Anoa'i in the NBC sitcom, Young Rock - the international award-winning TV comedy series about wrestler turned actor Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson.

Amosa’s feature film credits include Vermilion, The Legend of Baron To'a and Baby Done. He has appeared on the second season of Golden Boy and fantasy series The New Legend of Monkey on Netflix. He is also a deputy director of the Whau local board.

Curator of UPU Grace Iwashita-Taylor is the author of poetry collections Afakasi Speaks and Full Broken Bloom, and the play My Own Darling. She is co-founder of the South Auckland Poets Collective and Rising Voices Youth Poetry Slam, and was the recipient of the CNZ Emerging Pacific Artist Award 2014 and the Auckland Mayoral Writers Grant 2016.

PANNZ are delighted to be partnering once again with Audio Described Aotearoa, supported by Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage, to offer touch tours and audio described (AD) performances of UPU for the low vision community in Taranaki, Rotorua, Tauranga and the Hawke’s Bay. Full booking details for the AD performances will be listed on the booking websites once available.

Produced by UPU Collective and presented as part of the PANNZ (Performing Arts Network New Zealand) touring programme.

Curator - Grace Iwashita-Taylor

Director - Fasitua Amosa

Cast - Maiava Nathaniel Lees, Mia Blake, Ana Corbett, Shadon Meredith, James Maeva, Nicola Kāwana and Nora Atai

Set Design - Michael McCabe

Light and Projection Design - Rowan Pierce

Soundscape Design / Original Composition - 'Anonymouz', aka Faiumu Matthew Salapu

Costume Design - Kristin Seth

Artist / Projection Mamanu Design - Tyla Vaeau

Movement / Choreographer - Joash Fahitua


Sir Owen Glenn Matangi Rau at Sir Howard Morrison Centre

Wednesday 18 October - 7pm

Book tickets:

For media enquiries contact:

Ali Nicoll van Leeuwen at Elephant Publicity | 027 428 5080

Published 29 Aug 2023