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sunameke productions - performance 

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Highlights of Gigs, Events & Productions

Julia Mage’au of Sunameke presents her next solo work 'Found Words', making comment on the discoveries of sleeping knowledge in museums and libraries and the constant pressure to own and balance the knowledge that comes with their awakening. With the poetry of the late Teresia Teaiwa, Costume design by Dru Douglas from Lumai, Sunameke short film and dance by Julia, 'Found Words' is an expression of connection and disconnection to the past and the present of our Pacific heritage. 

Images from the sunameke short clips presented in 'Found Words' (Defining Pasifika | Identify Me | Bag Lady | Preserve Me | This Book)

Found Words


As part of the APT8 opening 'Live' performances at QAGOMA, Sunameke presented A'inaisa.

A'inaisa was a response to our Pasifika cultures being censored by a dominant cultural perspective. 

Our cultural arts practices often being censored and deemed inappropriate for the public.

A'inaisa at APT8


Article by Sarah Nesbitt

“Caution,” or, “How far do we need to go to fit into

your white box?” Sunameke and the adaptation of Pacifica Cultural Practice for the 8th Asian Pacific Triennial (APT8), Brisbane Australia 


First published in the 'Esse' Journal

In November 2015, Rarotonga born, Aotearoa (New Zealand) based contemporary artist, Numangatini Fraser Mackenzie (Numa) posted a series of photos on Facebook accompanied by the provocative caption: “Sunameke sisters activating...Show[ing] how their culture is [...] censored by institutions and deemed inappropriate for the public. Even though you’re invited you still need to fit in the white box #‎apt8‬ #‎sunameke.‬”

The photos were Numa’s documentation of a performative intervention called A’inaisa. (a Mekeo word that roughly translates as “I am responsible for that,”) by the Papua New Guinean/Australian performance group Sunameke, under the direction of Julia Mage’au Gray.2 Performed in November 2015, at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), A’inaisa centred around a young Papua woman, Moale James, who is supported by Julia and seven other women, all members of Sunameke. The black geometric tattoos that covered Moale’s body and face; long vibrant red, white, and black beaded necklaces which draped over her bare chest; long multi-colored grass skirt; headpiece; and decorative arm and ankle bands distinguished her from the sterile gallery environment. In contrast, Julia and the seven women are minimally adorned, wearing black tank tops and skirts, carrying woven shoulder bags, and two strings of beads, which they hold in each hand. 

With  Tattoo, Dogs teeth, Gowns, Coconut oil and Torch light.
How do Hapakasi, Afakasi, Afa, Mixed Race Islanders manage many worlds?

Sunameke gathers its stories for Dear Aunty from surveys sent out through facebook and YouTube and brings it together in dance and music.
These tales of acceptance are delivered with a soft punch and a wicked smile..
Its an intimate perspective on what it is to be mixed race living in Australia. From the Islands to Aussie within our own bodies we find the balance. Confronting and beautiful this show is just like its namesake. Highly versatile we transform from supermodels to thieves and all the while we tell you about her.

A sneak peek into the lives of the Hapakasi!

Dear Aunty



Presented @ The Best Of Auditions, Pasifika Festival
at the GALATOS, Auckland
10th Mar 2010
Words from Tanya Muagututia

Sunameke brings a fresh and contemporary look at cultural identity through multimedia and movement in 'Dear Aunty'

A short film that shows it's members' candid view on how the world sees them as 'islanders' living in Australia sets up a thought provoking challenge of 'first impressions' and mis-identity in an urban setting.

Tatau or tattoo markings are some imagery used in the film to assist with this idea, but it's the thick Australian accents, and close up of the faces that really make this challenge stand out.

Following is a movement piece that further depicts identity through the infamous 'Miss South Pacific Pageant' and perhaps how the world should see us represented or representing our island nations.

The simplicity of the piece is charming and the shortness of its entirety makes you yearn for a little more.

Who Born You recounts the personal Kokoda Trail adventures of mixed-race modern women. Women born from Indigenous cultures impacted upon by Christian Missionaries and Western Lifestyle. ​
It impels audiences to question depictions of Pacific women as not unlike traditional idols now seen as objects of art in a museum or gallery.​
Intimate and thought provoking, it challenges the stereotype of the Pacific Woman with flowers in her hair and a beckoning smile. ​
Delving into the contemporary world of rhythmic hips, shoe boxes, shared space and
grounded feet. ​
Who Born You will rock your heart and weave the tracks of the modern day Pacific Woman.​

Who Born You



Natalie Richards
'Who Born You?' December 10th 2010 ​

@ Darwin Entertainment Centre.​

We all relish in modern day conveniences; driving our Japanese cars, sipping on European beers and wines, eating ethnic foods, leaving our dishes to the dishwasher. Globalisation has seeped through the cracks of our everyday lives and is now an inescapable part of living in a 'developed' nation. Admittedly, there are a number of advantages stemming from Globalisation - I wouldn't be planning my holiday to Switzerland if it weren't for the Boeing Jet obliterating the distance! Within the realm of culture, however, globalisation has not only developed the concept of cultural diversity, but posed a number of difficult questions for many of the worlds cultures, especially those of mixed-cultural heritage:
Who Born You?​​


Through the thought-provoking production of Who Born You?, Julia Gray and Sunameke depict the struggle and growth of the mixed race woman's existence in a globalised world where she is torn between two lives. How does she maintain her heritage but conform to her life in Australia? Does she abandon one part of her and embrace the other? I really felt like asking, 'who is this woman'? How can she identify herself? Here is a woman of rich cultural heritage, thrust into a globalised and homogenised society, and searching frantically for a space to ground her bare feet. She is desperately clinging to her cultural roots, refusing to be washed away by a global and homogenised culture, but her identity is blurred and hazy.The deep beats and echoes of harmonies evoke mystery and past tragedies of burden and sadness, perhaps carried by the woman depicted.​


The dancing portrays beautifully the questions of identity this Pacific mixed-race woman faces. The choreography is packed full of symbolisation and metaphors to enhance the experience. The theme of new and old worlds colliding reverberates throughout the work - traditional music intertwined with glitch beats and bass, traditional rhythmic hips combined with contemporary movements, as well as the use of video and visual accompaniments. The costumes are very much Pacific styled and the simplicity of them drew my attention more to the movements of the dancing.​​​​

The story flows seamlessly, with a comical duo creating ripples of giggles throughout the audience. The culmination of the journey ends with a magnificent final 'unravelling', a scene of final discovery, revelation, and realisation. The entire work brought to mind the words of the wise Mahatma Gandhi, "No culture can live if it wants to be exclusive." ​

The modern mixed-race Pacific woman perhaps needs to embrace both of her cultural parentages so that she may form her own unique identity

Nesian Pride

Nesian Pride has been a part of Sunameke’s history since 2005. With an aim to showcase the true multicultural nature of Darwin’s Pacific performing community, the first Nesian Pride production laid the foundations for the evolved and more dynamic shows Sunameke presented in 2012 and 2013.

Watch: ABC TV Nesian Pride Report​


Presented at:​


The South Pacific Beauty Pageant in Suva, Fiji 2009

Climate Change - Melanesian Night

Pacific Storms in Brisbane, 2009

Pasifika Festival in Auckland, March 2010

"The water used to be 15 metres from Chachu's door, now it's only 4 metres away" The sea at Mata'an (the eye of the water) Beach in Loniu, Manus Islands (PNG) is rising.
Sunameke Productions debuted "Chauka Calling" at the 2009 Miss South Pacific Pageant in Suva, Fiji. The performance was televised across the Pacific to an audience of 6 million people. "Chauka Calling" was created to raise awareness of climate change and it's effects in Oceania. Using traditional stories, dances and songs from across Oceania in a contemporary context; Sunameke illustrated the links between pacific islanders and the sea and highlighted the future adversity that awaits them in the form of climate change.

The legend of "Leveyam" tells the story of a young man and his new wife, whom the Chauka, the gaurdian bird of the village discovers is a masalai or spirit. The Chauka bird warns the villagers of the imminent danger Leveyam's wife represents, and in response the villagers take to their canoes and leave their village behind to start new lives. "Leveyam" was the inspiration for "Chauka Calling" as the Chauka warned the villagers of a threat, Sunameke uses the symbol of the Chauka to warn the world of the danger our Pacific Islands are now facing.

Heed the call of the Chauka and plan and act for the future.

Chauka Calling




Presented by Sunameke (from Darwin)
at Western Springs Lakeside, Auckland
13 Mar 2010

Aucklands popular Pasifika Festival day arrives Saturday 13 March 2010, bringing together thousands for a great day out at Western Springs. The non-stop entertainment is across 12 stages, but focused on the two main stages, which are the Emerging Stage, and the Air New Zealand International Stage.

The first group on the international stage is Sunameke, a unique Pacific Island dance company based in Darwin and directed by PNG Hapakasi (half-cast) Julia Gray. Sunamake debuted todays piece, Chauka Calling, at the 2009 Miss Pacific Pageant in Suva, Fiji. Chauka Calling was created to raise awareness of climate change and its effects in Oceania. Chauka was the guardian bird of the village in the legend Leveyam and warned the villagers of a threat.

The Pacifika audience is reminded to heed the call of the Chauka.

Using traditional stories, dances and songs from across Oceania in a contemporary context; Sunameke illustrates the links between Pacific Islanders and the sea and highlights the future adversity that awaits them in the form of climate change.​


Pacific Dance Festival, Wahine Toa Nights 15 - 16th June

Sunameke at the Pasifika Festival in the Fiji Village, 26th May 

Darwin Island Night. 11th March

Pasifika Film Festival, Tep Tok Screening at Manukau Events Cinemas, 19th Feb


Performing 'Wearing My Map' for the Measina Festival at Pataka Art Museum, Porirua, Wellington NZ, 30 Nov - 3rd Dec

School Program, No1 Neighbour - Art in PNG 1966, 17th October

Twist and Loop, No1 Neighbour - Art in PNG 1966, 15th October

Yam Harvest for APT8, QAGOMA, 6th August

Wearing My Map, Wahine Toa - Pacific Dance Festival Mangare Arts Centre, 16th June 

Dance for West Papua, Brisbane, 28th May


Reveal, APT8, QAGOMA, 21 - 22nd Nov

Yumi Danis APT8, QAGOMA, 21 - 22nd Nov

A’inaisa APT8, QAGOMA, 21 - 22nd Nov

Rako & Vou Dance workshops, Suva, Fiji, Sept.

​Pacific Games Opening & Closing Ceremony, 4 - 18 July 


coming soon...



Pasifika Festival, March 2010 Auckland NZ ​Ori Tahiti Course - Conservatoire Artistique de Polyensie Francaise -Papeete, Tahiti April 2010 Sea Breeze Festival - Nightcliff Foreshore, May 2010 Darwin NT 

Mekeo Laafou - Brisbane, July 3rd 2010


Ori Tahiti Course - Conservatoire Artistique de Polyensie Francaise -Papeete, Tahiti April 2009 

Sea Breeze Festival - Nightcliff Foreshore, May 2008 Darwin NT 

AusdanceNT Imoves season @ the Light House, Darwin Festival, August 2009 

AusdanceNT Dancing in the Sand, Darwin Festival, August 2009 

Dear Aunty Production @ Browns Mart, Darwin Festival, August 2009 

Sunameke LIVE! @ Darwin Entertainment Centre, September 2009 

DANZ - Pacific Dance Fono Choreolab, South Auckland, New Zealand, October 2009 

Wasawasa Festival, Suva Fiji November 2009 

South Pacific Beauty Pageant, Suva Fiji November 2009


Oceanic Connections conference organised by the AAAPS
at Australian National University, 2008 Canberra ACT - Performed Weaving Our Map (Live 1 hr set) - Oceanic Connections Report

10th International Paediatric & Child Health Nursing Conference -  Holiday Inn Esplanade Ballroom, May 2008 Darwin NT​

Sea Breeze Festival - Nightcliff Foreshore, May 2008 Darwin NT​

Palmerston Festival 2008

​Presented a performance and scholarly paper as a leader in the field of trans-cultural performance at The World Dance Alliance Global Summit in Brisbane in July. - Performed Weaving Our Map (live 20 min set)​

AusdanceNT Imoves season @ the Starshell, Darwin Festival, August 2008 - Performed Weaving Our Map (live 20 min set)​

Paradise: Remixed - Something old Something New, Presented by the Darwin Festival and the Cultural Village of the Northern Territory @ Starshell, 31st August 2008 - Program - Paradise Remixed



​Adelaide Fringe Festival with Faia ke Vavine, 2007
Fai'a Ke Vavine was performed at The Adelaide Fringe Festival to rave reviews.
It was a mix of the previous productions "Fai'a" and "Vavine".

​Arafura Games Opening, 2007 NT

​Nesian Pride presented by Sunameke, 2007 NT

​Four on the Floor presented by Ausdance NT at the Darwin Festival 2007

​Sing Sing concert presented by David Bridie and Airi Ingram, 2007 Darwin Festival

​Manu production presented by the Cultural Village of the NT, 2007 Darwin Festival
Manu - Portents and Wonders Darwin Festival and the Cultural Village of the NT presents A
fabulous night of high energy performance, song, storytelling and ritual from PNG, Indonesia,
Samoa, Kiribati, East Timor, India, New Zealand, Fiji, West Indies and the Torres Strait
cultures that reside and share in the history of the Top End.Experience a multi cultural feast of
dances and rituals as over 100 performers take to the stage in a production that celebrates the
influences and beauty of Manu birds. Manu is also the story of the cultural village itself and is
their testimony, a celebration of beauty and courtship, culture and identity and dreams for the


​ Fai'a Darwin High School, 2006 NT 
Fai'a was revised and extended after the success it achieved at the "Culture Moves! Conference" in Wellington, New Zealand, 2005. The extended version of Fai'a was performed at Darwin High School to full house audiences.

​Without Sea Tracks production, 2006 NT

​I-Moves seasons

​ presented by Ausdance 2006 NT 

​Waka production presented by the Cultural Village of the 2006 NT Darwin Festival


'Our Place' Top End Arts Marketing Launch, 2005 NT
Our Place was choreographed for the Opening of "Top End Arts Marketing". It is a piece depicting the vibrant multicultralsim found in the Northern Territory and how people from different places have come to call the "Top End" home.​

​Arafura Games Opening, 2005 NT

'Faia' Culture Moves Conference, 2005 Wellington New Zealand
Fai'a is about the relationship between the Sunameke dancers. Giving insight into the reasons that they continue to dance through adversity. Fai'a translated means directed fate. This piece was peformed for the Ausdance "I-Moves" season of 2005 and also at the "Culture Moves! Conference" in Wellington, New Zealand.

​Nesian Pride presented by Sunameke, 2005 NT

​Dubu production presented by the Cultural Village of the NT, 2005

Darwin Festival I-Moves seasons presented by Ausdance NT 2005


Tracks Local production, 2004 NT
Vavine production, 2004 NT 
I-Moves seasons presented by Ausdance NT 2004
Weaving the Map is an interpretation through expressive movement and theatre the impact the Christian Missionaries had on the cultures of the Pacific islands, and how that impact has effected modern Pacific Island culture. This piece was performed as part of the AusdanceNT "I-Moves" season of 2004 in collaboration with Juniper Tree Dance Company.

Snakes, Gods and Deities Tracks production, 2004 Darwin Festival
Urban Village production presented by the Cultural Village of the NT, 2004 Darwin Festival