Sepelini Mua’au

Sepelini’s advice: “stick to what you like doing, which may not be what your parents want you to do ... something good will usually come up”.

Sepelini Mua’au
Sepelini Mua’au

Full name: Sepelini Mua’au

Degree: Master of Arts in Theatre

Place of Birth: Lower Hutt

Ethnicity: Samoan

Place in Family: Youngest of four children to parents Nanai Pati Mua’au and Talafulu Mua’au

Sepelini’s childhood saw tradition interwoven with the contemporary, and the marriage of the two has continued into his adult life and current work as an entrepreneur and playwright.

As a child, Sepelini always looked forward to ‘Lotu a Tamaiti’ or ‘White Sunday’ (a Samoan day of celebration in honour of the children in the community) performances each year. In his teenage years, he developed a love for contemporary Shakespeare performances and excelled on stage. His impressive talent for acting meant he was selected to perform at the renowned Globe Theatre in London.

Sepelini started out studying both law and theatre in his first year, but quickly found his real passion and talent lay in theatre.

Sepelini discovered through his studies that the works of his influencers such as Samoan actors Oscar Kightley and Nathaniel Lees perfectly captured the struggles and experiences of the Pacific migrant generation through humour and storytelling. But Sepelini felt the experiences of the new, New Zealand-born generation, were largely untold. His writing then, builds on the stories of his predecessors, and brings them into the 21st century with autobiographical references as well as the general experience of Pasifika in New Zealand.

Favourite tutors and a chance collaboration with a Toi Whakaari/Victoria University of Wellington Master of Theatre Arts in Directing student, Ian Lesa, were the main pillars of support for Sepelini throughout his study, along with partner Olivia. Sepelini’s supervisor, Dr Nicola Hyland, saw the potential early in Sepelini, and would send inspiring scripts or other material from playwrights she knew to help him through ‘dry’ writing periods.

Sepelini speaks highly of the University's film and theatre staff. “The lecturers know who their students are, their interests and where they could go with their particular talent – whether it be scriptwriting, acting or directing. They’re very encouraging, and come to all our shows”.

For his first play Blackout, Sepelini went back to his high school, St Bernard’s College in Lower Hutt, and gave some students parts to read and the opportunity to act for a live audience. Sepelini says some of the boys showed a natural affinity for his writing, which gave both him and the boys a real boost.

Sepelini likes to play rugby in his spare time, and this has become a major theme of his work.

Ian Lesa and Sepelini recently formed a partnership and established Tatau Theatre Company. Under the company, Blackout will debut in December this year at Studio 77 - Victoria University of Wellington, between Wednesday 2nd December - Saturday 5th December, 2015. See the Eventfinda website for tickets.

Sepelini’s advice to niu students is to “stick to what you like doing, which may not be what your parents want you to do. Don’t worry if things don’t go right, because if you stick with it, something good will usually come up”.

“Also, use the library! Use the services available to you, as they will help you to stay motivated.”