26 Apr 2023

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .


Anne Maroussia Filimoehala, a young Tongan woman, stands on the podium conducting orchestral musicians at the Michael Fowler Centre
Anne Maroussia Filimoehala conducts the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) Fellowship conducting programme continues this year and includes five Pasifika conducting students – Langakali (Kali) Halapua, Anne Maroussia Filimoehala, Enyah Puao Talamaivao, Hayden Nickel, and Sam Uatahausi.  

Developed through our Pacific Arts Strategy, this partnership with the NZSO was designed to provide a foundational entry point to a career for Pasifika conductors. It began as a successful pilot in 2022. 

Led by NZSO Principal Conductor in Residence, Hamish McKeich, the Conducting Fellowship is a unique year-long association with the Orchestra, including bespoke opportunities to work with NZSO players, international conductors and educators. 

The programme is currently halfway through its four-session run in Wellington. 

“We’re learning how to best produce sound with an orchestra, how to create a connection with our gestures, and to lead,” says Langakali, who has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Auckland and has performed in many musical genres on both the violin and viola.  

Enyah, who at 19, is the youngest member of the programme, and has a background in violin and classical voice, says the classes have helped build her confidence in conducting. 

“Every person has a different gift – and I’ve learnt that everyone [in this programme] has their own way to conduct,” Enyah says.   

“It’s given me more confidence in the way I conduct.” 

As well as completing the conducting programme, Sam Uatahausi and Anne Filimoehala will also join the NZSO for their Tonga Residency Tour in June this year, and take part in a tailored professional development programme.  

Anne and Sam, who are both Tongan, are emotional when discussing this opportunity.  

“I was born and raised in Tonga and moving to New Zealand was very hard – but music kept me going,” says Sam, who has an Honours degree in Conducting from the University of Auckland.  

“Going back – it’s going to be fun.” 

Makerita Urale, Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager, Pacific Arts, is thrilled to continue this successful collaboration with the NZSO. 

“We love strategic collaborations like this that create new co-designed opportunities for Pasifika creatives to learn new skills towards sustainable leadership roles in the arts in Aotearoa,” she says. 

 “We are keen to hear from other potential partners interested in working with us to support our arts communities.” 

Peter Biggs, NZSO Chief Executive, says everyone in the Orchestra is delighted at what is being achieved by the Conducting Fellowship this year. 

“We knew from the beginning that the Pasifika students were very talented. What we have seen and heard so far this year is that each of them has grown in confidence and skill, especially while on the podium conducting the NZSO.” 

Stephen Wainwright, Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive, says this programme is in line with our strategic focus areas of resilience, inclusion and equity.   

“We understand how important it is to use the foundations of our existing relationships to propel initiatives that also support emerging artists”, he says.  

“I'm thrilled to see this initiative support the development of Pasifika creative leadership in the classical music sector.”