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Mana Moana takes audience on musical journey across the Pacific

Mana Moana takes audience on musical journey across the Pacific

  • 25 Sep 2023
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(Picture caption: Mana Moana is a celebration and fusion of symphony and songs from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, Cook Islands and more.)

Mana Moana is a celebration and fusion of two worlds of music colliding, while showcasing the languages and stories of Pacific peoples.

On November 24, 2023, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Te Tira Pūoro o Aotearoa (NZSO) and Signature Choir with Live Nation will present Mana Moana at Auckland’s Spark Arena.

Featuring 80 choral singers and 78 NZSO musicians on stage, Mana Moana showcases gorgeous harmonies and rich melodies of traditional songs from across the Pacific, including Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.

In 2022, NZSO and Signature Choir created high-quality audio recordings and videos of Pacific songs in partnership with RNZ, followed by a live performance at Michael Fowler Centre, in Wellington.

The show was a sell out and it is a highly anticipated event for the Auckland community, who will get to see locals perform with Signature Choir selecting its members from both Auckland and Wellington.  

This project marks one of the first times a Pacific choir has partnered with a fully professional orchestra, conducted by NZSO’s Brent Stewart, to deliver a body of work that is 100 percent Pacific.

Signature Choir music director and project curator Helen Tupai says Mana Moana re-imagines Pacific music by fusing the power of choral harmony, with a lush and grand orchestra, making it a truly magical experience.

“Singing our songs in a really unique way, but still familiar fashion is so surreal and fun, so we are excited for our communities to see Mana Moana in person,” Helen says.  

“Partnering with a world-class orchestra to sing songs that are prominent and significant to our Pasifika communities provides a huge sense of pride, so much so that it’s hard to not get emotional when performing.”

The words mana and moana are common terms, shared across many Pacific languages.

Mana - meaning sacred, spirit, prestige, power, and moana - meaning the ocean, or a body of water.

As Pacific islands are all connected by the sea, the aim of the project is to highlight the connectedness of Pacific nations through music, telling stories and showcasing beautiful Pacific languages to Aotearoa and abroad.

The selection of songs is led by Wellington’s Pacific communities and include both traditional and contemporary songs, such as Faliu le la – a song depicting the beauty of Samoa’s vast and beautiful landscape; Siueli o e pasifiki, written by Queen Salote Tupou III to proclaim her love for her beloved country; and Isa lei – a Fijian farewell song.

Choir arrangements are by Helen and Jadrah Tupai.

Past Signature Choir member, and half of The Laughing Samoans, Tofiga Fepulea’i will MC Mana Moana at Spark Arena in November.

Visit the Live Nation website for more information and to purchase tickets.