Pacifica - The Musical is a groundbreaking stage show featuring a catalogue of the biggest Kiwi pop songs and a mythical love story set in Hawaiki, and premieres in Auckland on August 19.
For Gibson Harris of Ngāpuhi, the show began with a wero.
“For me, it felt awkward being one of the only Māori dudes in such a Pacific-heavy show," Harris says. "I think once the director said, 'Think of it as Hawaiki Pāmamao and then I was like, sweet, cool, I get it. It's almost like a little hapū of different Pasifika on one stage. That’s the biggest thing I took from it.”
Harris comes from a production theatre background and says the heart of the musical is a love story between two characters but the whole cast have had to be versatile in their roles.
“I play a few characters. So my first character is one of our ancestors. I'm opening the space with a wero. It's a dream sequence of a wero, just bringing the crowd into our spaces and what we do.”
“I move into one of the cousins of the main character, Tanga, and I think my cousin's name is Rākena."
Anasetasia Mackay, a 23-year-old music artist from Ngāti Hāmoa is the younger sister of Moses Mackay from Solo Mio and raised in Te Ao Māori. She believes Polynesian people will fall in love with the production.
“My role in Pacifica – The Musical is one of the posse so there are two posses and they're best friends of Venus, the main character, the wahine. So we're kind of just like guiding her through her life, while she's guiding herself through her love life - keeping her in check, making sure she doesn't get heartbroken again,” says Mackay.
“Personally hearing these songs again, it’s been quite a nostalgic journey … we have Annie Crummer, Nesian Mystic, Brooke Fraser, so hearing these songs together and hearing them woven together into a story that makes sense. Somehow it all just makes sense, it’s amazing. I think it’s really cool.”
'Light and uplifting'
Vocal coach Nick Afoa, from Ngāti Hamoa and Croatia, plays a kaumātua in the first scene and he hopes the show will be more than pure entertainment for the audience.
“It brings together music that we all know and love as Kiwi here but it’s really got this deep story of love and loss but it also talks about things that I think make sense to our people in terms of breaking generational curses. And I think even though the show is really light and for families, it’s uplifting." Afoa says.
Plans are under way for Pacifica – The Musical to tour internationally.