The Conch - Nina Nawalowalo, John Fa'amoana Luafutu and Tom McCrory:  Giving Voice to the Voiceless

Listen to The Conch keynote speech.

The Conch - keynote speech

The Conch

The Conch

Nina Nawalowalo ONZM - Artistic Director and Co-Founder The Conch

In a career spanning more than 30 years, internationally acclaimed theatre director Nina Nawalowalo has created a platform for the telling of Pacific stories across the globe. Artistic Director and Co-founder of Wellington-based theatre company The Conch, she is a performer, mentor and teacher who has presented at over 40 international festivals, including the London International Mime Festival, British Festival of Visual Theatre, and the Moscow Arts Festival. From her ground breaking ‘Vula’ which toured for seven years including a three week season at The Sydney Opera House and a sold out season at London’s Barbican Centre, to Masi, Marama and her unforgettable direction of the work of others such as Hone Kouka’s ‘The Prophet’ and Edinburgh Festival award winning ‘Duck Death and the Tulip’, Nina is renown for her powerful visual and magical work exploring Pacific themes. She is passionately committed to bringing our untold stories into the light and for using theatre as a vehicle to affect social change. In 2013 she established the Solomon Islands National Women’s Theatre Company ‘Stages of Change’ as a means to address violence against women and girls. The 15 strong company of women performed at the Melanesian Arts Festival in Papua New Guinea and at the EU Parliament in Brussels. Her most recent show, ‘The White Guitar’, is the powerful story of The Luafutu Family – father John and sons Matthias and Malo aka renowned hip hop artist Scribe. Told by the Luafutu family themselves, the sold-out show was lauded by critics with praise: “If there’s any show that you’re going to see in the next decade, this has to be it” [RNZ National]. It was described by The Press as ‘a seminal moment in New Zealand theatre history’. In 2017, Nina received the Senior Pacific Artist Award in acknowledgement of her significant contribution to Pacific Arts in Aotearoa. In 2018 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Theatre and Pacific Culture.

Tom McCrory - Executive Producer and Co-Founder of The Conch

Tom read Drama at Bristol University, receiving a BA with first class honours before going on to train for two years under internationally renowned master teacher Jacques Lecoq at L’Ecole Internationale De Theatre Jacques Lecoq, Paris, France. Before moving to New Zealand his work was included in many national and international festivals including ‘Diskurs Festival’ Geissen, Germany, British Festival of Visual Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, and National Review of Live Art. Tom is the writer of many plays including ‘French Kiss’ (Independent Newspaper Top 10 Plays, Edinburgh Festival), ‘Life on Mars’, which premiered at The Riverside Studios, London, ‘Faith’ (Adam Play Reading Award Winner, RNZ adaptation), ’MelonCauliflower’ (Radio NZ), ‘The Last 27 Days of Childhood’ (Award Playmarket Plays for the Young) and’Significance’ (Award 2015 Playmarket Adam Play Awards). Tom has worked extensively as a Movement Teacher including The Young Vic London, Bristol Old Vic, Rose Bruford Drama School, California State University Fullerton, East.15 and The Shanghai Theatre Academy, and was Senior Movement Teacher at Mountview Drama School, London. For 15 years he worked as Head of the Movement Programme at Toi Whakaari, The New Zealand Drama School. Alongside Nina Nawalowalo he is co-founder of The Conch and has collaborated with her in the creation of all Conch productions.

Fa’amoana John Luafutu - Actor, Musician, Writer

Of the Sa Tuatagaloa clan, Fa’amoana John Luafutu came to New Zealand as a young boy from the villages of Satalo and Poutasi, Falelili, Samoa. A self-taught musician and writer, John is known for his book, ’A Boy Called Broke – My story: so far’. He was co-writer and performer of renown production The White Guitar. The true story of the Luafutu family: father Fa’amoana, and sons Matthias and Malo (aka platinum-selling hip-hop artist Scribe) The White Guitar takes us from a grandmother’s dream of a better life in New Zealand, through the collision of that dream with the reality of racism, hardship and loss. It follows a man’s journey from boyhood innocence into the heart of darkness – from being put in a boys' state home for stealing a bicycle at aged nine, to becoming a state ward at twelve, through violence, drug addiction, imprisonment and gangs, to reveal the possibility of hope and redemption. John's latest play, ‘A Boy Called Piano', takes a step further. As the government instigates a national enquiry into the abuse of children in state care, Fa’amoana has chosen to speak out in the form of this historic new play. Building on The Conch’s kaupapa telling the stories that need to be told - A Boy Called Broke takes us directly into the experience of thousands of Maori and Pacific children placed in state care in the 1960’s. This story is not one of private shame but one which impacts on us all, that the many thousands who suffered with him have profoundly affected the course of New Zealand history.

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