HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS - TAITU’UGA KITCH WESCHE
TAITU’UGA KITCH WESCHE
We lived in Wellington, New Zealand before moving to Australia when I was around 10 years old in 1996 - where we lived in Logan on the south side of Brisbane. We were brought up in the church as are lots of Pacific Islander families! We were part of the Samoan speaking ward of Beenleigh LDS church.
Both my parents spoke Samoan at home and instilled in us siblings different cultural protocols as in our fa’a Samoa and also fofō. As most Polynesian families, our parents were strict, trying to keep us grounded in our culture amongst the modern Western world. We were so lucky to be immersed in our culture at home, church and our Samoan community that resided on the south side of Brisbane.
How did you get your start in the creative space?
My passion was ignited from a young age. Family get-togethers, my uncles playing the guitar and singing. I was also influenced by my older brother and his music which then started my journey into beatboxing and battling on the Logan trainline! This continued onto parties progressing to talent shows before getting picked up from Australia Idol as ‘The Beatbox Alliance’. This spurred my journey and saw me on the road, touring around Australia, Asia and Canada as an MC/beatbox over electronic dance music with international DJ's for around 10 years.
Your recent theatre show 'Where We Meet', what was it about and how about the reception?
This was my first co-production and stint in the world of theatre! The show was based on Finding connections with our cultural heritage and history. It saw the realisation that all our ceremonies & traditions were always right in front of our eyes - fa'alavelave, tatau, funeral, fofō etc.
We sold out five shows, indicating the support and love of cultural diversity and sharing our cultural fa’a Samoa to non-Pacific people and indigenous Mob of Australia. So blessed from our Father in Heaven, with Dr Eve Klein (my co-star and co-creator) and also Metro Arts Brisbane Australia for believing in our project. Shout out to our amazing team - Milly Walker, Aleea Tessa and Kian Dillon.
Next year, you'll be releasing your first feature film 'Alakai'. What is this about?
Alakai, a Samoan teen with an incredible voice, lives with her parents and sister in the heart of Mount Druitt. Her father is determined for her to succeed as a musician. But Alakai rebels, wanting only to fit in with the crowd, wasting her gifts. When Alakai’s school music teacher enters her into a state-wide talent quest, Alakai is suddenly thrust into the spotlight and must confront the demons that hold her back. I’ll be playing the role of Alakai’s dad!
Kitch, you're a jack of all trades! What art form do you most resonate with?
That would be our culture. With our cultural fa’a Samoa, I am able to communicate with all cultures using music programmes, film and now theatre. I’m given creative edge!
Tell us about the work you do with indigenous and Polynesian youth?
My work started out with a programme called ‘Creative Tracks’, which saw me working and travelling to Aboriginal communities all over Australia teaching music workshops, working with elders, and showcasing our culture to Aboriginal communities nationwide. As well as this programme, I also work with Indigenous Australian and Polynesian youth in rural and regional areas of Queensland, developing music skills, culture, identity and sense of communal well-being. Using my Samoan language, I intertwine culture, neuroscience & mythological story telling utilising a fresh fusion of electronic dance music (EDM), hip hop, beatbox loop machines and traditional instruments.
How welcome is Pasifika cultural expression in where you live, Brisbane, Australia?
It’s well accepted here! Australia in its entirety is a very multicultural country & there are already well-established Samoan roots here in Brisbane!
You hold the matai title 'Taitu'uga'. What does being a tulafale ali'i mean to you? Is there a way your work reflects that set of responsibilities?
My title is from Sapunaoa Falealili. I hold a high talking chief title, our fa’alupega (Taitu’uga ma Tuiloma o Manu o le Tuasivi e fagota I tai Lua) meaning the bird that fishes from the cliff also fishes in the water. This means I can stand with to’o’to’o or I can sit as high chief, which is an honour and blessing to receive this gift from my family, Aiga Manusamoa Isamaeli. It means my duties to my village, my family and Samoa.
I have been able to perform si’i here in Australia and send money over to help our family, and even doing lauga when it needs to be done to represent family matters here in Australia. With my art, from music to facilitating and working with not just our Matai elders but also other nations has been a blessing to represent my title in Australia.
Any other work we should keep an eye out for?
Absolutely! I will have New music coming out very soon! This is electronic Samoan house music, all in our language! Once this is released, I will be showcasing the songs alongside my live band at various shows and festivals across Australia and soon the world. Keep your eyes out for my role in ‘Alakai’, the movie about a Samoan family from Mt Druitt!
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air