On Wednesday 27th March 2013, Dietrich Soakai, Marina Alefosio, Mafi Tavo, Lina Tukunga, Luti Richards, Sacha Norrie, Victor Kalolo and I performed spoken word poetry on behalf of the South Auckland Poets Collective (SAPC) at the Open Mic Night hosted at the Community Cafe in Otahuhu, Auckland. The Open Mic Night is a community initiative which began in July 2012 offering a creative space for youth to share their talents in music, spoken word poetry and more. It runs each Wednesday evening from 8pm until midnight with a small door charge of $2 per person. The proceeds from the Community Cafe contribute to paying for the mentoring programmes in schools delivered by Affirming Works (AW).
AW works alongside Good Seed Trust to ensure the Open Mic Night is run successfully each week for the youth to attend and enjoy. Good Seed Trust was given a fund to provide an opportunity for youth to have a place to hang out that would be alcohol free. AW and Good Seed Trust decided on running an Open Mic Night which saw the experiences and skills of Charlie Pome’e, the lead singer of Three Houses Down (THD) and a Youth Mentor at Affirming Works, as essential components to host the Open Mic Night as the MC. It was by Charlie’s invitation that we, members of SAPC, gladly attended Open Mic Night to share spoken word poetry.
The night saw many young people come together to share their talents in music and/or spoken word. Some of the audience members attended simply to show their support for this community initiative and to enjoy an evening of live music and poetry. The atmosphere was filled with warmth and appreciation for all who shared the stage. Some of the performers were forthcoming artists and others were established artists. It was special to see the talents that came through on that night.
“We received really great feedback about SAPC being a part of the night. A mixture of music and spoken word poetry gave the audience a chance to thoroughly enjoy the night. Some of the audience members have never seen a live spoken word showcase before so it was a great experience for them. That SAPC performance has attracted many young people to the Open Mic Night since. Now I am really keen on spoken word. Thank you!” states Charlie.
Ana Faatoia, a Samoan photographer, attended this night to provide her services free of charge as her way of contributing to this community initiative. “I’m all for the community. It’s a great thing that our Pasifika groups/persons encourage our young ones to embrace their gifts/talents” she explains. Ana was able to capture the essence of the night as shown in the images provided here of which we are all grateful for. Moreover, DJ Al Goodie from Niu FM was also there to show his support for this event. Guest musicians on the night included Wellington’s reggae band Brownhill, also Sammy J and friends and more. In addition, international guest musician Spawnbreezie, made a surprise appearance to end the night with a performance of his song Don’t Let Go. When I spoke to Spawnbreezie after the event, he stated that he was pleased to have been a part of the night to show his support for the South Auckland community.
AW is an innovative Pacific organisation that has been operating in Manukau City since 2001. The founder, Emeline Afeaki-Mafile’o, explains, “AW is blessed to be able to work in partnership with a variety of community organisations, agencies, local government and businesses. We basically want to be able to respond to the real needs of our community. We are mentoring in schools, serving our community through the Community Cafe, we have opportunities for training people and with Open Mic Night we are showcasing talent.”
Charlie states: “I really enjoy hosting the Open Mic Night. I feel comfortable because this is my workplace and it’s my duty to welcome people in so they can take ownership of the cafe. It’s our cafe, it’s about our community. I don’t want to do a half-pie job, I want to give this my best. And it’s so nice that we get an awesome turn out each Wednesday evening. When established artists take the time to come to the Open Mic Night it motivates and encourages the youth. For example, the young and upcoming musicians were thrilled to be able to perform on the same mic as an international artist like Spawnbreezie.”
“The Open Mic Night shows another face of community that in South Auckland and amongst Pacific isn’t always present. Good Seed Trust volunteer weekly and provide the hospitality, and man power to keep it sustainable. Charlie and THD have provided the professionalism needed. Together all of us are saying we “community” count and we can make things happen. Now with SAPC, it continues to grow” explains Emeline.
Charlie Pome’e and THD bring their passion for music to the fore thus contributing immensely to the creative space that is provided at Open Mic Night. “We (THD) love music so much that we want to give back, especially to our South Auckland community. As a musician, I believe this is what we need to do within our community and it’s all voluntary. The Open Mic Night is a non-alcohol event and people do a fantastic job performing without the influence of alcohol which is fantastic to see” explains Charlie. He goes on further to say: “The Open Mic Night is about capturing the youth’s passion and strengths and for most of the youth that attend these evenings, their strengths lie in music. Overall, I do this because there is a lot of talent amongst our youth. It’s jaw-dropping. We discover the talent before the world does. The vision is to try and create opportunities for the youth and for that I am humbled to be a part of this. I encourage all to come along. We welcome everyone!”
It was a privilege and an honour for me to be able to share what I am passionate about, spoken word poetry, with my fellow SAPC poets at the Open Mic Night. Both Emeline Afeaki-Mafile’o and Charlie Pome’e are my cousins and so with the presence of my family members there that night, I felt right at home. It was a heart-warming night. Malo ‘aupito Emeline & Charlie. I am so proud of you both! ‘Ofa lahi atu xox
Here are more photos from the night by Photographer Ana Faatoia. Click on each photo for a closer look:
If you are in Auckland, check out the Open Mic Night which is hosted every Wednesday from 8pm onwards at the Community Cafe, 225 Great South Road, Otahuhu. Contributions big or small, will count towards a great cause. The gold coin goes a long way.
Here is Charlie Pome’e with Three Houses Down featuring Spawnbreezie:
Affirming Works: http://www.affirming.org.nz/about-us/
Community Cafe fb: http://www.facebook.com/CommunityCafeOtahuhu?fref=ts
Ana Faatoia Photography Blog: http://afaatoiafoto.wordpress.com/
A Faatoia Fotography fb: http://www.facebook.com/AFaatoiaFotography?fref=ts\
South Auckland Poets Collective Blog: http://www.sapcnz.com
Spawnbreezie fb: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SPAWNBREEZIE/111957526515
Three Houses Down fb: http://www.facebook.com/ThreeHousesDown?fref=ts
Brownhill fb: http://www.facebook.com/BrownHillBand