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Music and arts centre turns 25

ADRIAN EVANS
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2013
Early Days at OMAC
BIG DAY: Former Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis welcomes former Govenor-General Sir Paul Reeves to the opening of Otara Music Arts Centre.

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A source of inspiration for music and youth for a quarter of a century will be honoured this week.

Otara Music Arts Centre (OMAC) has been a creative hotbed for talented youngsters and musicians since it opened 25 years ago.

The centre was originally built as a place for youth in a partnership between the Manukau City Council and the community.

"I think it's one of the most important initiatives of the time and it did precisely what we envisaged," former Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says.

"It brought out of the shadows young, very talented people who through the Otara Music Arts Centre were able to develop their natural skills and shine, not just on the local but national - and indeed the international - scene."

Over time the centre has developed into more than just a recording studio, Auckland councillor and arts, culture and events forum chairman Alf Filipaina says.

"For 25 years, people have been coming to OMAC to meet, learn and create. It is important to have a place for our young people to feel connected to, to feel part of the community," he says.

"This is not just about a building - it is about empowering our youth to know that there are positive ways of spending their time and growing their lives."

Former centre manager Greg Whaiapu recalls with reverence the day OMAC farewelled its most famous son, Pauly Fuemana.

"We brought him and his family in. All the big musos came to perform and pay their respects. It was unreal," he says.

"OMAC is a facility that has stood the test of time and remains as relevant now as it was in 1988. Now it's more about the opportunities ahead and what's in front of us."

The man organising this Saturday's 25th celebration, OMAC manager Gene Rivers, reckons it has been no easy feat harnessing 25 years of history into one day.

"The line-up reflects the role OMAC has played as an educator, as a hub for spiritual and cultural practices and obviously as a vehicle to music industry success."

Celebrations include live performances by Otara's latest stars Giant Killa and Sistema Aotearoa, alongside King Kapisi, Ma-V-Elle, MAINZ OMAC student band, Te Uki Ou Cook Island group, Cydel, Khona Vaaga Gray, Vocal 5 and the Mangere College Gospel Choir.

The celebration runs from 9.30am till 2.30pm at Otara Music Arts Centre, corner of Bairds Rd and Newbury St, Otara Town Centre. Email Marie.Flavell@auckland council.govt.nz or call 274 6400 for details.

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- Manukau Courier

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