To watch someone dance, is to hear their heart speak.
In 2010, Iosefa Enari established Pacific Dance New Zealand in Grey Lynn, Auckland so creatives could perform freely and express their culture and who they are as individuals through their artform.
Iosefa’s dedication to his Samoan heritage, his people, and the arts, has seen him recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, where he received a New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Pacific dance.
Receiving such an honour reminds Iosefa of the struggle his parents went through on arrival to Aotearoa New Zealand from Samoa and raising him and his siblings.
“The recognition is also for the arts and as such, I am truly grateful for this honour,” he adds.
The greatest achievement of his career to date is setting up Pacific Dance New Zealand which serves as the national organisation for the Pacific dance sector of Aotearoa New Zealand and the region.
It delivers a wide range of services for the Pacific dance sector of New Zealand and provides creatives with a multiple of opportunities.
Iosefa’s addition to the Honour’s List comes after a tumultuous time for the organisation, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing Iosefa and his team to cancel the annual festival and create online content in its place.
“We lost many choreographers and dancers in the process of cancelling but am glad they were offered relief funding,” he explains.
In level two, Pacific Dance New Zealand partnered with the local arts centre in Auckland Te Oro and used this as a venue to film 10 heritage artists.
While challenging, Iosefa says the lockdown in New Zealand forced him to slow down and take on some unscheduled rest time.
“It was necessary to accept the time and use it to reset and plan for the near future."
Those plans include continuing to provide Pacific peoples access to opportunities available and to see them thrive, he adds.