Topic: Entertainment

Māori centre stage at Volcano Bay opening

By Mānia Clarke

Māori songstress Maisey Rika and Pounamu Performing Arts members took centre stage in the opening of Universal Orlando Studio's new water theme park, Volcano Bay. The ceremony was live streamed and has had over 800,000 views on Facebook alone. 

Audiences worldwide enjoyed Māori songstress Maisey Rika and Pounamu performers in a Polynesian cultural spectacular.

Pounamu Performing Arts tutor Tapeta Wehi said, "Actually it's our blessing and honour to bring the legacy of our elders to this land." 

The spectacular has been five months in the making and included female water dancers from Vanuatu and performers from Hawaii, Tahiti, Rarotonga, Samoa and Tonga.

The opening's creative director, Rewi Spraggon says, "The people here at Universal Orlando are shocked by the performance because there many different attractions, but staff told us that since it began, this is it's the first time they've seen the spirit, essence and power of traditional Māori dance in the park." 

"Dad established our Pounamu Performing Arts group in the 80's, so we're so amazed to meet our relations of the Pacific here in this place and collaborate with our relations from home," said Wehi.

Volcano Bay is an island in the Pacific where the people of Waturi reside conceived by Dale Mason six years ago. The attraction is themed with Māori signage and greetings.

"Our main goal was to gift a mauri stone that captured the prestige of each island. Some of the indigenous people who live here are from Portugal. But, I invited them to come, but we haven't received a response from them.  That's sad for us to not pass on life essence within the stone to the home people, but we've asked that the studio management take care of it," said Spraggon.

Pounamu Performing Arts hope to perform regularly during the coming US summer months.