Performers teaching Pasifika heritage

 Talia-Rae Mavaega,  Jake Arona and Mana Tatafu performing O Le Malaga Fa’a’Atua (The Journey of...
Talia-Rae Mavaega, Jake Arona and Mana Tatafu performing O Le Malaga Fa’a’Atua (The Journey of the Gods).
When Talia-Rae Mavaega travels to primary schools nationally as a performer she often finds it "disappointing" to learn how little children know about Pasifika's rich culture.

Having toured nationally with Duffy Books in Homes, she has found some school children don't know what Samoa or Tonga is or New Zealand is in the Pacific.

In a bid to educate children on Pasifika's heritage, Mavaega is one of three performers from theatre company Y NOT travelling to schools across Canterbury to share some of Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand's most well-known legends.

Directed by Gregory Cooper, the theatre company has collaborated with The Court Theatre to present O Le Malaga Fa’a’Atua (The Journey of the Gods).

The multi-lingual production will be touring across Canterbury primary schools until September 13 and will feature Jake Arona and Mana Tatafu, alongside Mavaega.

When asked by The Star if education on the Pacific could be better, she said: "I think there is always room for improvement, I just think Pasifika culture isn't implemented as much."

But Mavaega said: "The cool thing is most of the kids once they are given the opportunity to learn a new word or whatever they just jump on it which is awesome."

Based on a fusion of myths, the O Le Malaga Fa’a’Atua (The Journey of the Gods) follows the story of demigod Maui's quest to prove himself worthy of becoming a fully-fledged God.

Mavaega, who is of Samoan heritage, will play the role of Sina based on the famous Polynesian myth Sina and the Eel, which explains the origins of the first coconut tree.

But she said the message she is hoping children will walk away with is to make the right choices to be kind to others and be the best they can be.

The message stems from when Maui (who is based on a demigod from Maori mythology) is faced with the decision to either gain for himself or help people forever.

Mavaega said while the majority of schools it is travelling to may not have the population of Pacific students, it is "awesome" it can share with children who have not experienced the culture.

Fortunately, times have changed since Mavaega's grandfather moved to New Zealand between the 1930s - 1940s.

Back then, she said children were told off and beaten for speaking the Samoan and had to sacrifice their language to adapt to New Zealand language.

"We are so lucky human rights is now a thing," Mavaega said.

Y NOT was established in 2017 to bring more Pasifika theatre into the city's art scene.

There are four available performances for schools to attend the show.

To book a visit for your school go to