From the programme notes:
Fakaalofa lahi atu
Malo e lelei
Ni sa bula
Stories travel a long way. This one began in Taranto, Italy, in November 1943, where a 28 (Maori) Battalion concert included two Samoan songs performed by six Pasifika soldiers. Recording the concert was a roving unit of the New Zealand National Broadcasting Service. One of the songs was Goodbye My Feleni.
Almost seventy years later — and eleven thousand miles away — those songs have inspired a play that tries to reflect this country as a collision of cultures, and that no matter where we come from, we can make a community that is more than the sum of its parts.
I am grateful to those who have signed up this season: actors Dominic Ona Ariki, Shimpal Lelisi, Pua Magasiva, and Shadon Meredith for making the words on the page sing; director Amelia Reid-Meredith for finding depth in the script where I least expected; sound designers Posenai Mavaega & Tanya Muagututi’a; costume designer Venus Stephens; set and lighting designer Ruby Reihana-Wilson for having an awesome eye for detail; and producer Jenni Heka for bringing it all together. Thank you also to Going West’s Naomi McCleary for the opportunity, and James Wilson for putting in a good word.
Finally: this play wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Samuel Churchward, Louis Aspinall, Jacob Foster, Eric Henry, Harry Irwin, and Jim O’Dwyer who in a southern Italian winter sang Samoan songs of love, fear, home and country for their comrades in arms, and their loved ones back home.
Manuia le po
28 August 2014