23 Apr 2021
Toi Aotearoa Creative New Zealand is pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Lisi as the new Arts Practice Director, Pacific.
Paul held the position of Senior Communications Adviser, Pacific since 2019 and has been an integral part of growing Creative New Zealand’s engagement with the Pacific community. He replaces Makerita Urale, who is now Senior Manager Pacific Arts.
With over 10 years of experience working in the arts sector as a performer and producer, Paul has played an important role in the implementation of the Pacific Arts Strategy through many Creative New Zealand projects. This includes the annual sector conference Nui te Kōrero, the Arts Pasifika Awards and local and international residencies focused on supporting and nurturing Pasifika talent.
Before joining Creative New Zealand, Paul’s career has spanned theatre, dance, television and film, and he has performed across Aotearoa and internationally.
1. When did you know you wanted to work in the arts?
I have always had a love of the arts. I’ve grown up performing and being creative, which is a huge part of my Samoan heritage, but I don’t think I seriously considered it to be a career till I was in University. I majored in Advertising at AUT, but was very seriously considering leaving in my last year to pursue acting and singing, but thankfully I had a great support network around me who said – finish your degree! So I did, and then launched back into studying performing arts, and haven’t really looked back since.
2. Who do you consider a mentor/role model in the arts?
I’ve been very fortunate in my arts career to have been mentored by and worked with some of the most talented Pasifika women. Three of them I met when I was a student and then staff member at the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA) – Goretti (Letti) Chadwick, Anapela Polataivao and Olivia Taouma. They not only helped me on my journey in the arts, but they fostered a sense of aiga at the school. I was also lucky to learn from and work with Lisa Taouma – a powerhouse artist and producer. They all helped me hone my skills of producing, critical thinking, the art of the hustle, and the importance of telling the stories of our own communities.
3. What do you hope to achieve in your role?
My hope is that I can continue the legacy that Makerita Urale, another strong Pasifika woman, has helped carve in this space. I consider her to be another one of my mentors and have learnt the importance of tautua (service) and the privilege that comes with being in such positions. I hope to continue being an advocate for our people in spaces where we can often be left out of – to be part of the talanoa and to be at the table where decisions can be made, and eventually, making our own table. I also hope to continue to amplify the voices of those who are in the margins within our community – LGBTQi, those with the lived experience of disability, as well as communities of Te Moana Nui a Kiva that we don’t often hear from.
4. What’s a recent arts experience that’s inspired you?
Seeing the Pasifika Festival and ASB Polyfest in the flesh after two years of cancellation was truly inspiring. These events are vital for our communities, particularly our young people and it reiterates the important work these events do in ensuring our language and customs are passed on through song and dance. The leadership opportunities for our youth who are part of these events can’t be overlooked, and it’s inspiring to see the passion and tautua in action that goes on behind the scenes with the festival organisers and staff for these events to come to fruition. It’s what inspires me to keep going for our communities.
5. If you could be a colour, which colour would you be?
I’d be lanu moaga, or blue! A deep blue the colour of the Moana.