Samoan voyaging tradition — and Samoa’s role in its development and expansion across the region — will be showcased at next year’s New Zealand Festival, thanks to support from the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa.
The Festival will open on 23 February 2018 as a fleet of waka from across New Zealand and the Pacific descend on Wellington Harbour to re-tell the story of Polynesia’s great navigators.
Among the waka taking part in A Waka Odyssey — a spectacular performance incorporating on-water choreography, a mass choir, a thousand-strong haka, and a musical score composed by Warren Maxwell, of Trinity Roots and Little Bushman — will be Samoa’s only traditionally-inspired, ocean voyaging va’a, the Gaualofa.
“We are delighted to support the Samoa Voyaging Society to participate in the A Waka Odyssey programming at next year’s Festival,” said David Nicholson, New Zealand High Commissioner.
“It will be an opportunity to not only reconnect with culture and tradition, but to create understanding about the place of Samoa and New Zealand in our world, today — as contemporary navigators, as explorers and global citizens, and as leaders focused on the future of the Pacific.
“Also, the work the Samoa Voyaging Society undertakes, particularly around engaging young Samoan people with waka culture, should be commended and this provides a platform to highlight that, across the region.”
Last week, the New Zealand High Commission committed $10,000 to the Samoa Voyaging Society, caretakers of Gaualofa, to assist in her involvement in the Festival and A Waka Odyssey.
“This funding, along with that received from our other partners, will help the Samoa Voyaging Society prepare Gaualofa for her journey to, and engagements in, New Zealand,” said Schannel van Dijken, President of the Samoa Voyaging Society.
“Gaualofa will be in New Zealand from late December 2017 to early March 2018, and during this time, as well as playing a key role in the A Waka Odyssey performance, will take part in other events, such as the Auckland Anniversary and Waitangi Day celebrations, and school and community outreach programmes.”
“We are humbled and proud to be invited to participate in what is set to be a remarkable celebration of waka culture and Pacific connectivity, in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.”
The New Zealand Festival is an international celebration of arts and culture, held across February and March every two years in Wellington.
*A story earlier this week about China’s donation to the Gaualofa and the Samoan Voyaging Society said the donation was $4,000. This was incorrect.
The donation in fact was $40,000. The error is regretted.