Le Moana Presents: 1918

Wellington based dance company, Le Moana brings their sell-out show 1918 to Raglan this coming Monday 13 June.

1918 was inspired by the devastating story of the 1918 Spanish Influenza that claimed the lives of almost a third of the total population of Samoa, and between 50-100 million lives worldwide.

The pandemic came to Samoa via passenger cargo ship, carrying passengers with the highly infectious disease. Due to a lack of health facilities, Samoa was unable to cope with the impact of the disease.

A United Nations report from 1947 ranked the impact of the pandemic in Samoa as ‘one of the most disastrous epidemics recorded anywhere in the world.’

Because the ship had arrived from Auckland to Apia, survivors blamed New Zealand administration for failing to quarantine the ship. The contention significantly affected the relationship between New Zealand and Samoa administration.

Le Moana Director Tupe Lualua first heard about the Spanish Influenza during her studies at University and started doing more research. She was able to connect the events in Samoa to her Nana, Avea’i Fui who was 4-years-old when the pandemic hit. Tupe worked with Le Moana Choreographer Andy Faionga to bring the story back to life.

Le Moana is all about telling the story of the Pacific. They embrace the heritage dance practices of Māori, Samoan, Cook Islands and contemporary dance for expression and cultural enrichment. Sharing both the good and the bad unlocks the stories of our past.

“It’s our job as artists to take the audience to the place of the story we are telling,” said Indya Gibbs, Raglan local and Le Moana member.

“Research was the key to this performance. We wanted to take people back to that time. It was interesting learning about it, and going through the journey of how it has affected the other dancers’ family lines.”

The group was also able to take 1918 to Samoa to perform there.

“Performing in Samoa was a surreal experience,” Indya said. “I loved being surrounded by the real culture, it was extra special for me as I studied Siva Samoa for three years, so to be there was amazing. We had some unforgettable shows over there and I will forever be grateful for the trip to Samoa as it reminded me of how much I love doing what I do!”

Le Moana will be performing 1918 at the San Diego Fringe Festival at the end of June. Giving them the opportunity to share this special story and performance with a wider audience.

Take a journey with Le Moana to 1918, Monday 13 June at 7:00pm at the Town Hall. Tickets are $10 at the door and will help the group in their fundraising efforts for San Diego.                    

Karamea Puriri

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