Salā Lemi Ponifasio

Salā Lemi Ponifasio


Director, Choreographer, and Artist

Guest Curator Lemi Ponifasio is renowned for his pioneering work as a director, choreographer and multidisciplinary artist, collaborating with many communities around the world.

He has presented his work at prestigious theatres, galleries and arts festivals in more than 30 countries and in contexts such as the Venice Biennale, the Avignon Festival, the Lincoln Center in New York, and the Theatre De La Ville Paris.

Lemi Ponifasio is founder of MAU – an international performance platform and creative forum. He creates large-scale productions and installations that cross the boundaries of art, ceremony, philosophy, culture, activism, and performance.

His collaborators are people from all walks of life, performing in factories, remote villages, opera houses, marae, galleries, castles and stadiums. His works have included fully-staged operas, theatre, dance, exhibitions, community forums, and festivals. Lemi holds the traditional Samoan matai title of Salā.

His Highness Tui Atua Tamasese Ta'isi Efi

His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi


Samoa's former Head of State

Le Afioga a le Tama-a-Aiga, His Highness, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta`isi Tupuola Tufuga Efi is recognised internationally as a statesman, philosopher and cultural historian. Tui Atua continues to model dynamic leadership after decades of service to Samoa and the Pacific region. He was Samoa’s Head of State from 2007 to 2017, and also served as Prime Minister (1976-1982), as leader of the Samoa Democratic United Party, and as Member of Parliament (1966-2004).

He is the current titleholder of one of Samoa’s Pāpā titles, Tui Atua, is also the current titleholder of the Tama-a-Aiga title, Tupua Tamasese, and of the Aloalii title, Ta’isi. He also holds the Tufuga and Tupuola titles from Asau and Leulumoega respectively. He is widely acknowledged in Samoa and the Pacific to be a leading cultural custodian and thought-leader, exemplified by his advocacy for the preservation and celebration of Samoan and/or Pacific Indigenous knowledges.

Exploring what he calls Samoa’s “indigenous reference”, his addresses and scholarly writing are published widely. Tui Atua serves as Adjunct Professor for Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Aotearoa New Zealand, and in 2019 was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of St Andrews, United Kingdom.

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Dame Anne Salmond

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Writer and Historian

Dame Anne Salmond is a distinguished Professor of Māori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, and a leading social scientist. She has written a series of prize-winning books about Māori life, European voyaging and cross-cultural encounters in the Pacific that have received much international recognition.


Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Independent researcher and composer

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal is an independent researcher and consultant, and a freelance composer, musician and storyteller. He is passionate about the ‘creative potential’ of indigenous knowledge and communities which explores through research, teaching and advising, and through music and story. Charles has written/edited six books and ten reports all on aspects of mātauranga Māori and iwi histories and traditions. He is also the founder and leader of whare tapere – iwi based ‘houses’ of storytelling, dance, games, music and other entertainments – which takes place in Hauraki. Previously he was a Director at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Director of Graduate Studies and Research at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, Ōtaki, and Professor of Indigenous Development and Director, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, University of Auckland. Charles belongs to Marutūahu, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngā Puhi.

Pania Newton

Pania Newton

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Lawyer and Activist for Māori land rights

Pania Newton, Ngāpuhi, Waikato, Ngāti Mahuta and Ngāti Maniapoto, is a New Zealand lawyer and activist for Māori land rights. In 2016, Newton and her cousins established the Save Our Unique Landscape Campaign (SOUL) to protect the whenua at Ihumātao in south Auckland from development. Pania’s path through life has led her to finding her purpose, her kaupapa: protecting the whenua, Ihumātao. As a frontline protector of Ihumātao she has had to step out of her comfort zone and face challenges, all in the name of saving a unique and sacred land, contributing to a better Aotearoa for all.


Tāmati Kruger

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Māori advocate, Social and Political Analyst

Tāmati Kruger, from the Ngāti Koura, Ngāti Rongo and Te Urewera hapū of Tūhoe, is a Māori advocate and social and political analyst who has dedicated his career to the development of his iwi. Tāmati was instrumental in securing the largest Treaty of Waitangi settlement to date for the Central North Island Iwi Collective, and was chief negotiator of the Tūhoe-Te Urewera Treaty of Waitangi Settlement, which included a Crown apology for historical grievances, a social service management plan for the Tūhoe rohe and a financial and commercial redress package. The settlement also included legislative changes to transfer Te Urewera National Park to its own separate legal entity, looked after by the Te Urewera Board, of which Tāmati is chair. He was a finalist in the 2012 New Zealander of the Year awards, Supreme Winner of the 2014 Marae Investigates Māori of the Year, and in 2015 was a recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award by Victoria University.

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Peter Sellars

United States

Opera and Theatre Director

Peter Sellars has gained international renown for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of artistic masterpieces and for collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative artists. He has staged operas at the Dutch National Opera, English National Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opéra National de Paris and the Salzburg Festival among others.

Sellars' many collaborations with composer John Adams include Nixon in China, and most recently Girls of the Golden West at the San Francisco Opera. Desdemona, Sellars’ acclaimed collaboration with the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and Malian composer and singer Rokia Traore has been presented in major cities in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.

Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals, the 2002 Adelaide Arts Festival, and New Crowned Hope in 2006, a month-long festival in Vienna that celebrated Mozart’s 250th birth anniversary. He is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize for contributions to European culture, the Gish Prize, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sellars has been awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize and been named Artist of the Year by Musical America.


Pat Snedden

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Te Tiriti negotiator, Corporate director, Not-for-profit leader in health and education

Pat Snedden began his professional life in publishing. He was a business adviser for Health Care Aotearoa, a primary care network of Māori, Pasifika and community groups within the not-for-profit health sector, and has worked as an economic adviser to the Ngāti Whatua o Orakei Māori Trust Board and was part of their Treaty negotiation team. In 2008 he was appointed Chief Crown Negotiator in the Muriwhenua treaty claims for the Far North region. Four of the five iwi settled in 2015. Pat was a founding director of Mai FM, our first Māori commercial radio station, and is currently a director of the Ports of Auckland, chair of the Auckland DHB, and deputy-chair of the Counties Manukau DHB.

In 2011 Pat helped establish a new educational trust devoted to accelerating improvement in Māori and Pasifika educational outcomes. Manaiakalani Educational Trust works around NZ in 90 schools with 20,000 tamariki to use high-end technology to accelerate learning improvement. His 2006 book, ‘Pakeha and the Treaty: why it’s our Treaty too’ won first prize in the first author, non-fiction section at the Montana Book Awards.


Golriz Ghahraman MP

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Politician and Member of Parliament

Golriz Ghahraman is an Iranian-born New Zealand politician and member of Parliament. She is a former United Nations lawyer, was a child asylum seeker, and became the first refugee elected to New Zealand’s Parliament.


Leali’ifano Dr Albert L Refiti

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Research leader, Pacific spatial and architectural environment

Albert L Refiti is a Samoan born and raised research leader in the field of Pacific spatial and architectural environment with extensive research and publication in the area supported by his teaching and lecturing for the last 15 years. He is an Associate Professor of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology. He is the lead researcher in the ‘Vā Moana: space and relationality in Pacific thought and identity’, a Marsden funded research project.

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Kara Jackson

United States

Writer and Poet

Kara Jackson is the daughter of country folks. She is the author of Bloodstone Cowboy (Haymarket Books). She is the 2019 National Youth Poet Laureate and the 2018 Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago. Her work investigates a trail of language that leads from the South to the North. Through a multidisciplinary approach, Jackson attempts to document her lineage of divine womanhood in a country that demands its erasure. Her poems have appeared in POETRY, Frontier Poetry, Rookie Mag, Nimrod Literary Journal and Saint Heron. She has two articles published in Blavity. She has two poems featured in the latest anthology edited by Kevin Coval, The End of Chiraq. Jackson is a TEDx speaker. She will attend Smith College in the fall of 2019. Her EP “A Song for Every Chamber of the Heart” is out now on all streaming platforms.

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Chigozie Obioma



Chigozie Obioma is a Nigerian writer and assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2015, he was named one of "100 Global Thinkers" by Foreign Policy magazine. He is the first author in Booker Prize history to be nominated for their first and second book, with The Fishermen shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and An Orchestra of Minorities shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.

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Chiké Frankie Edozien


Writer and Journalist

Chiké Frankie Edozien is a Nigerian-American writer and journalist. He is a professor of journalism at New York University and a journalist for the New York Post. Edozien is noted for his 2017 memoir Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man, which won the Lambda Literary Award in the Gay Memoir/Biography category at the 30th Lambda Literary Awards in 2018.


Neo Muyanga

South Africa

Composer and Musician

Neo Muyanga is a composer, musician and librettist, with deep knowledge of the role protest music has played in the national liberation struggles of people in India, South Africa, Brazil and Egypt. He was composer-in-residence at the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (2017) and the National Arts Festival of South Africa (2017), and a participant in the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD (2016). He has collaborated with activist organisations Sonke Gender Justice, Equal Education and the Community Development Resource Association and worked as a research affiliate at the University of Cape Town’s Drama School and Centre for African Studies, the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and the Humanities Research Institute, University of California in Irvine. He is also a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative and the Aspen Institute.


Hon. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) at Victoria University of Wellington

Winnie Laban, DNZM QSO, is a former New Zealand politician. She served as the Member of Parliament for the Mana electorate, representing the Labour Party, and was the Labour Party's spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs and for interfaith dialogue. Laban is currently Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) at Victoria University of Wellington, a role established to provide strategic direction and support for Pasifika students and staff.


Te Kaurinui Parata

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Carver and Environmentalist

Manaia te maunga, Pataua me Ngunguru nga awa, Paratene te Manu te marae, Ngati Takapari me Ngati Korora nga hapu, Ngati Wai te iwi, ko Hori Parata me Moea Armstrong oku matua, ko Te Kaurinui Robert Parata toku ingoa.

Te Kaurinui returned from study at Victoria University in Wellington to apprentice under his father Hori Parata in the tikanga of working in te taiao and with taonga species, in particular tohorā, kiore and kauri. He also returned home to continue his learning under Te Warihi Hetaraka in whakairo at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre, where he has been learning since he was 13.


Alistair Fraser

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Kaiwhakatangitangi a Ngā Taonga Pūoro / Taonga Pūoro Practitioner

Alistair Fraser is a practitioner of ngā taonga pūoro who has been researching, making, performing and composing with these taonga since 1999. Al has elegantly woven taonga pūoro into many projects that are recognised as being at the forefront of New Zealand arts practice, through collaborations with artists such as Dr Richard Nunns, Ariana Tikao, Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, Trinity Roots - Motu Oiléain, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Rhian Sheehan, Joe Michael, Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Israel Starr, STROMA, and Bridget Douglas, and in settings that span jazz and improvised music, ambient music, electroacoustic music, film, dance, Māori music, classical music and the visual arts.


Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Artist, World-builder

Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala is an award-winning artist and world-builder of Fijian/Euro origin based in Aotearoa. Jahra utilises her skill-sets within performance activation, contemporary dance technique and poetic/voice soundscape as a psychopomp for her shape-shifting and story-telling through her performance work. She is known for her transcending performances, powerful voice and otherworldly physicality, and is currently in development for the new solo activation work ‘GOD-HOUSE’, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Jade Kake

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Writer and Architect

Jade Kake, Ngāpuhi (Ngāti Hau me Te Parawhau), Te Whakatōhea, Te Arawa, is an architectural designer, housing advocate and researcher. She has experience working directly with Māori land trusts and other Māori organisations to realise their aspirations, particularly around papakāinga housing and marae development, and in working with mana whenua groups to express their cultural values and narratives through the design of their physical environments. Jade lives within her home area of Whangārei, where she is leading several projects to support the re-establishment and development of papakāinga communities.


Emalani Case

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Pacific Studies Lecturer and Writer

Emalani Case is a lecturer in Pacific Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. As a Hawaiian woman, activist, writer and dancer, she is deeply engaged in issues of indigenous rights and representation, dietary colonialism, and environmental and social justice. Her current research focuses on Hawaiian articulations of identity and nationalism, sovereignty, and decolonising indigenous minds and bodies. She is from Waimea, Hawaiʻi.


Lana Lopesi

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Writer and Art Critic

Lana Lopesi (Satapuala, Siumu, Pākehā) is an art critic and author of False Divides (2018). Previously Lana was the Editor-in-Chief (2017–2019) at The Pantograph Punch. Before that, she was Founding Editor of #500words (2012–2017) and Editor of Design Assembly (2018). Lana’s writing has featured in a number of magazines, journals and publications in print and online as well as in numerous artist and exhibition catalogues. Lana is currently a PhD Candidate at Auckland University of Technology. There she is also a researcher for the Vā Moana / Pacific Spaces research cluster – an international research platform engaging Pacific and Western thought to investigate Vā Moana or Pacific Spaces.


Faustin Linyekula

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dancer, Choreographer and Theatre Maker

Faustin Linyekula is a Congolese dancer, choreographer, theatre maker and storyteller. In his work he addresses the legacy of the troubled and violent history of his country. After studying literature and drama, Linyekula left Zaïre, to settle in Nairobi, Kenya where he co-founded the first Kenyan company for contemporary dance, Gàara, in 1997. In 2001 he returned to Zaïre, by now the Democratic Republic of Congo, to found in Kinshasa the Studios Kabako, a creation and research space for performing arts. In 2007, Studios Kabako moved to Kisangani, opening up to music and film. In Kisangani, Studios Kabako are fostering the debuts of young artists from the continent, from training to production, as well as developing works with local communities around sustainability and environment.

Linyekula regularly tours and teaches in Africa, the United States and Europe, and recently joined William Kentridge as an associate artist of the 2019 Holland Festival.


Coco Solid aka Jessica Hansell

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Musician, Writer and Visual Artist

Coco Solid is Jessica Hansell, a Māori/Samoan/German artist from Auckland. Hansell came up through underground music in both punk and rap, before building a discography with Parallel Dance Ensemble (Permanent Vacation, Germany), Badd Energy (Flying Nun, NZ) and radical 9-member rap collective Fanau Spa. She heads DIY project Kuini Qontrol and Equalise My Vocals which she uses to amplify women, LGBTI, queer and decolonising voices in the Pacific. Working in indigenous-driven film and television, Hansell also writes and directs cult family cartoon ‘Aroha Bridge’. She is part of Piki Films, a stable of Māori/Pasifika screenwriters founded by film-maker Taika Waititi. Hansell also has a background in literature and journalism currently completing her first book while undertaking a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Hawai’i. She was recently named a 2019 Art Laureate by the national Arts Foundation.

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Tina Makereti

Aotearoa / New Zealand


Tina Makereti writes essays, novels and short fiction. Her latest novel is The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke and, alongside Witi Ihimaera, she is co-editor of Black Marks on the White Page, an anthology that celebrates Māori and Pasifika writing. In 2016 her story ‘Black Milk’ won the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, Pacific region. Her first novel Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings won the 2014 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Award for Fiction, also won by her short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa. Tina teaches creative writing and Oceanic literatures at Victoria University and has just completed a collection of personal essays, This Compulsion in Us.


Ruby Judson

Aotearoa / New Zealand


Ruby Judson is a 13 year old artist from Mangawhai, Northland. She is passionate about connecting the children of Aotearoa to celebrate their diversity and challenge prejudice. Ruby is working with a team of young people on a project which uses art and music to achieve this goal. She will be presenting her team’s project at the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience conference and at the International Future Problem Solving conference in Boston, USA, later this year.

Dr Liana MacDonald

Dr Liana MacDonald

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Liana MacDonald is of Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau and Pākehā descent. She is currently a research fellow for a Marsden project, He Taonga Te Wareware?: Remembering and Forgetting Difficult Histories in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Liana's research interests include theories of racism and whiteness in settler societies, and decolonial approaches to teaching English, History and Geography.


Kahumako Rāmeka

Aotearoa / New Zealand

MAU Wahine artist

Ko Tauhara te maunga
Ko Taupō-nui-a-Tia te moana
Ko Tūwharetoa te iwi
Ko Te Heuheu te tangata
Ko Ngāti Rauhoto rāua ko Ngāti Tūrangitukua ngā hapū
Ko Te Arawa te waka.

I grew up in a small place called Nukuhau in Taupō. I was homeschooled for most of my schooling life, I grew up fully emerged in Te Ao Māori. My parents gifted me the tools to create a world for myself using Te Ao Māori principles and my love for my culture. I’m working now as a radio host at Te Arawa FM radio station. I've also starred in Hinekura, a short film by Becs Arahanga, and Colonial Combat, a web series by Julian Arahanga.

I started with MAU at 16 years of age, and have been a part of many productions: Stones In Her Mouth wananga at Hirangi Marae Turangi (2015), International Dance Day in Paris (2016) Recompose at Herrenhausen for Kunstfestspiele in Hannover (2016), Die Gabe Der Kinder, Theater der Welt Hamburg (2017), Standing In Time, Festival D’Avignon (2017) the opening of The Louvre Abu Dhabi (2017), and Mausina at Parliament Grounds for the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand (2018).

He kākano ahau i ruia mai i rangiātea.
Ko Kahumako Rāmeka tōku ingoa.