11 Mar 2022
We’re thrilled to announce Sela Faletolu-Fasi as the new Arts Practice Director, Community & Youth.
Sela is based in Christchurch and is passionate about youth, community development and the arts. She has over 12 years experience in community engagement in the public sector with a particular focus on youth, and Māori and Pacific communities. Her previous role was community engagement advisor at StatsNZ and has also worked at Oranga Tamariki, VOYCE whakarongo mai and other advocacy and youth facilitation roles.
When did you know the arts was where you wanted to give to?
My parents met in my Dad’s family band in Wellington, so from the time I was in my mother’s womb I have been surrounded by music and the arts. From a very young age, I was raised in an extended aiga that lived like we were the Samoan cousins of a mix between the Vontrapp Family and the Jacksons. Lol. I don’t believe I ever came to a realisation or an awakening of wanting to give to the arts. I feel more like it invested in me and my hauora, and over the years I understood that it was part of my purpose, my whakapapa, my DNA, an intrinsic driver, connected to my heart for young people. In all areas and at all times, I am a creative. I give to the arts, not by choice but by necessity and a desire driven by alofa, purpose, passion and gratitude.
Who do you consider a mentor or role model in the arts?
Living in Christchurch, there are two Pasifika Arts Pou that have shaped my journey –Tanya Muagututi’a and Victor Roger. Both of these forces of nature have played pivotal roles in paving my creative pathway and providing me platforms and opportunities to excercise and explore my craft, as well as supporting my mahi with rangatahi using theatre. My late father use to say, “Ignite your passions, but do not burn your values in doing so.” Victor and Tanya have held me true to that in times my ego has distracted me from my heart for my community and my values. That is powerful influence and what I am most grateful for.
What has been a recent arts event or activity that has inspired you?
The amount of innovation that is happening in the sector as a result of the pandemic has been inspiring. Seeing how artists and communities have found ways to pivot and continue to show up in an environment that is so uncertain and at times chaotic. It’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable. In many instances, it’s been unchartered yet they continue to navigate the moana. In particular, all our rangatahi that have been leading the way and holding firm to their creative callings by building their own platforms, networks and communities to do the hard mahi and get ALL the treats. To the next generation inspiring all their aunties and uncles... lesssssgo!!!
What do you hope to achieve in your role?
I want to be happy and support others to do the same.
If you could be an animal which one would it be?
I think I’d be an elephant. They are enormous beings with a loud trumpet for a voice, have thick skin, are strong, fierce protectors, live their best lives being connectd to their herd, and are highly emotional. That pretty much sums me up. I also have 6 children aged 4 to 18. Elephants have a gestaion period of 2 years. I feel like I’ve been pregnant for the last 19 years of my life, so I can totally relate to all the elephant Mamas out there.