Moana’s southern connection

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THIS year’s Southland Festival of the Arts will be launched by a legendary New Zealand performer. And for Moana Maniapoto, the trip south is a return to her roots.

The singer, songwriter, documentary maker, Art Laureate and New Zealand Music Hall of Fame inductee was born in Invercargill and lived here until she was 10.

“The first time I ever went on stage in my life was in Invercargill.”

And it’s her connection with the region which partly inspired the theme of her performance – My Name Is Moana

Maniapoto said she enjoyed being back in the south briefly during a road trip about 18 months ago.

“My sister and I came down… with our mother to do a little roadie around the South Island because we hadn’t been there for a long time. We had a great time.”

They enjoyed seeing landmarks like the water tower again, and having a cuppa with Mayor Tim Shadbolt, she said.

Moana Maniapoto Photo: Supplied

During the holiday, Maniapoto said she was approached by Arts On Tour New Zealand general manager Steve Thomas about touring to smaller centres.

“I talked to my manager and we thought ‘let’s build a new kind of performance with some of our old songs and songs from [latest album] Rima, and theme it around the ocean’,” she said.

“Particularly because we were going back to Invercargill and I remember spending a lot of time at Oreti Beach.”

She will perform with her sister Trina (ukulele/vocals), Karlos Tunks Saunders (guitar/vocals) and Paddy Free (keyboards/vocals) and will combine music and storytelling to create a tribute to the ocean.

Maniapoto said she felt the stress on fresh and salt water in New Zealand was starting to come to a head.

“I think we’ve started taking it a bit for granted. In our performance we just want to reminisce about our relationship with water and think about how we can… work together to ensure that our kids and grandchildren will have that same experience.”

Maniapoto said they had been working on the show for a few months now and were looking forward to taking it on the road.

She said she had been telling people Invercargill and Stewart Island would be her highlight.

“We’ll be practising on everyone else so that we’re pretty good when we get to Invercargill.”

Stewart Island Community Centre, Thursday, April 20, 8pm, $20/$25. Door sales from 30 minutes prior.

SIT Centrestage Theatre, Friday, April 21, 8pm, $25/$15. Book at TicketDirect. Booking fees apply.

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