Pacific | Singing

Pacific singers light up Spark Arena literally

The Wellington-based Signature Choir recruited troops from Auckland and had only had three days for the two-hour-long Pacific musical.

80-strong-Signature Choir @ Mana Moana Showcase

It was a spectacle not even US National Football League (NFL) royalty had seen.

Four-time NFL Superbowl champion Jesse Sapolu is in Aotearoa running American Football training camps

He attended the Mana Moana concert at Spark Arena over the weekend and says he was a proud Polynesian watching the 80-strong choir up on stage at Auckland’s Spark Arena.

“I played a long time and some of my joints ache but here’s one thing I know - if I had a voice like this I wouldn’t have all the injuries that I carry around with me.

“I’m proud to be here tonight and they did a great job.”

In an unlikely pairing, the Signature Choir from Wellington performed Pacific music with the 78-membered New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO).

This was the second appearance for this show, which was also staged in Wellington last year.

Bass singer Ezra Iupeli was shocked when the group was told it had been offered a spot to perform at Auckland’s top concert hotspot.

In a Sister Act-like performance, they sang songs from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, and Tonga.

Iupeli, who’s from Samoa, felt unified on stage with every Pacific Island.

“You have to fight back those tears, to be honest, all those songs, just resonated with me in different ways.

You would have seen there were songs with energy. We just gave everything that we had until we had nothing left.” He says.

The Wellington-based choir recruited singers from Auckland to fill last-minute gaps and Iupeli says they had just two days to rehearse before the big event

“We’re lucky we had the creative directors back in Wellington because that’s where we’re from, we had practice twice a week and the Aucklanders had to do that on their own. Our musical directors were flying up once a month, so the Aucklanders had a really tough task.

It was nice to finally meet and give them some comfort that we were there for them. They had our back and we had theirs.”

Comedian Tofiga Fepulea’i also kept the crowds entertained as the MC.

And in a surprise announcement, Fepulea’i broke the news of the “Musika Moana” choir competition to take pl acenext year in May.

In a joking manner, he urged members of the crowd to return back to church so they could have a chance at winning a $100,000 prize pot for their community.

Flags from all Pacific cultures were flown around at the showcase and phone lights reflected off the people’s bright smiles, which lit up the stadium.

Joseph Safiti, a musician, loved the combining of contemporary music and Pacific traditional hymns.

“I think it was the arrangement of the song, and to hear them with the different harmonies, and all the flat seven chords. I was just buzzing out that Pacific songs were being sung in a different way.”

Sipepa, a spectator on the night with her mates on a girls’ night out and also a proud Samoan said she loved all the soulful songs on the night.

She commented that she had converted to being a Fijian on the evening after hearing the Signature Choir’s version of the famous “Isa Lei”

An album has been recorded of 10 out of 13 songs from the concert and can be bought on all major streaming platforms.