PACITA: Pacific Islanders in the Arts

By Fata Simanu-Klutz, UHM Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures Assistant Professor
Pacific Islander filmmakers, poets, musicians, and actors converged at the UH Mānoa campus to share talents and to enjoy meeting new people or reconnecting with friends and acquaintances through the arts for the PACITA showcase, 18–20 April 2013. PACITA included three evenings of artistic expressions by emerging and seasoned artists of Pacific Islands ancestry, most were UHM students majoring in various disciplines.
The showcase featured visiting performers such as Hawaiʻi-born and raised Kalala Pasi, an opera singer of Tongan ancestry who is studying music at Utah University, and William Giles, a poet of Samoan ancestry who recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Also featured were the Hui Poly, a Christian chorus, who shared their blend of gospel and Pacific sounds at the opening ceremony on Thursday evening. They were followed by a marvelous ensemble of traditional dances by the Fealofani o Sāmoa (FOS) club. Hui Poly also performed at the Friday evening extravaganza of poets and musicians at Mānoa Gardens. To round up the showcase, students from the Samoan classes and FOS club presented Tamaʻitaʻi Sa, a play delivered in the vernacular about women and politics in ancient Sāmoa. Tamaʻitaʻi Sa was written by Tofa Aumua Mataʻitusi Simanu Papaliʻi (Samoan Program at IPLL) and co-directed by Fata Simanu-Klutz and Misa Tupou. Tamaʻitaʻi Sa promises to be an attraction for the UHM campus in the future.
PACITA was made possible with funding from UHM’s Student Activity and Program Fee Board (SAPFB) and Sociology Department, and through collaboration among faculty and staff from many departments at UHM and Kapiʻolani Community College, most of whom are Pacific Islanders. PACITA promises to be an annual event to create and sustain a space for Islanders to develop skills and nurture a passion in any art form of their choosing. This passion—for the aspiring artists in particular and Pacific Islander students in general—is often thwarted by the pragmatics of family obligations and the high cost of education and living in Hawaiʻi.
Special thanks to Dean Robert Bley-Vroman (College of LLL) and CPIS Director Terence Wesley-Smith, chair of IPLL Dr John F Mayer, Dr Takiora Ingram (Pacific Writers Connection), Dr Lisa Uperesa and the Sociology Department, Laura Shimakuboro and the technicians at Campus Center Facilities, Jennifer at SAPFB, Ahmad and Ako of Da Spot restaurant, and the Island elders for their mana. Mahalo nui loa, faʻfaetai tele lava.
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About cpis

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies, in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Pacific and Asian Studies, is both an academic department and a larger home for initiatives that bring together people and resources to promote an understanding of the Pacific Islands and issues of concern to Pacific Islanders.