Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) is delighted to announce the appointment of Tavita Nielsen-Mamea as the Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residence for 2020.
Tavita’s first play Au Ko Tuvalu played at the 2019 Wellington Fringe Festival, where it was awarded Outstanding Ensemble and Tavita the Most Promising Emerging Artist. It has subsequently had successful runs at the Court Theatre and Kia Mau Festival, and will have an Auckland season at TAPAC from 23–26 October.
Tavita, a Dunedin-raised writer of Samoan and Tuvaluan descent, hailing from the villages of Safotu, Safune, Apia, and Nukufetau, will use the residency to work on a new theatre project.
Au Ko Tuvalu takes the audience to Tuvalu, the homeland of the world’s first climate change refugees, on its final day of evacuations. It follows a family watching their history, culture, and beloved homeland swept away in front of their eyes. The play has been critically acclaimed for its political relevance, fresh and compelling voice, and ‘heartwarming, heartwrenching’ emotional eloquence.
Tavita says of the residency: “Being awarded the Emerging Pasifika Writer’s Residency for 2020 is very exciting for me, not only because it gives me creative space and time to write and shape my craft, but it also gives me the opportunity to give back to my community, with the shows that I write. Being of Samoan and Tuvaluan decent, it is important to me to write about my journey as a young New Zealand-born Pasifika artist, as well as sharing the many teachings of my Samoan and Tuvaluan heritage with Aotearoa. This residency allows me to write my own stories that reflect my family, ancestors, villages, culture and community.”
Leading playwright Victor Rodger will mentor Tavita during his residency at the IIML. He says: “Tavita is a promising young writer who clearly has something to say, and the residency is a great opportunity for him to work on his next project.”
Tavita will receive a stipend of $15,000 to write and research his new work at the IIML for three months.
Ken Duncum, Director of Scriptwriting at the IIML, says, “The IIML has fostered a great deal of new theatre writing over the years, and this residency is a particularly satisfying way to continue that work. We’re delighted to have the generous support of the University and Creative New Zealand.”