APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association


Awards > Award Showcase

2022 Leilani Collins Presentation


There were tears and there was laughter as the APATA presenters were welcomed and embraced by the wonderful community at Bellbird Park State Secondary College.

It was a fantastic sunny morning, perfect for the presentation of APATA National Award for Performing Arts Student of the Year to our winner, Leilani Collins.

There are many thank you messages to send out…

Te Matatini Kapa Haka Aotearoa

To Chief Executive, Mr Carl Ross and the team at Te Matatini Kapa Haka Aotearoa, thank you for helping us acknowledge Leilani’s Māori heritage by sending such a wonderful and inspiring message to her and her family.

Te Matatini is an internationally recognised festival and competition for kapa haka enthusiasts and performers alike all across New Zealand and Australia.

Celebrating 50 years of showcasing kapa haka excellence, we were able to witness the benefits of kapa haka for Pasifika students in an Australian school setting, and we wish Te Matatini a continuing legacy of advocacy for Māori performing arts for many years to come.

Te Matatini’s message is included in the above presentation and below.

Frances Story and Natano Fa’anana 

Natano  Fa’anana – Casus Creations

Natano Fa’anana, Creative Director, Co-Founder and company member of Casus Creations who wears many hats, including Artistic Director and Creative Producer for events and organisations such as Yarramboi Festival, Moogahlin Performing Arts, Briefs Factory and more.

Natano’s training with Brisbane-based collective Polytoxic, developed his skills, encouraging him to experiment with merging cultural themes and modern theatre.

His fusion of art and culture continues to run throughout Natano’s work, and that of Casus Creations, the performing arts company he created & co-founded in 2012 with Jesse Scott and Lachlan McAulay.

Natano has performed extensively overseas while also working prolifically at home with Casus, Polytoxic, Briefs Factory, Flipside Circus, and as an independent director.

“25 years ago, in a school hall just like this, and I had a little dance company called Unity. And this company was created by all of us Pacific Islanders. We had Māori, Tongans, Fijian, Samoans.”

“This was at a time when culture wasn’t necessarily one that was encouraged to pursue , but, during this time, we found it really important to maintain our culture.” Natano recalled.

“We would learn each other’s dance from Tahitian to Hawai’ian, you name it, and that is how we maintained our stories.”

” I’m so grateful that we were so passionate back then. Because from that time on, I now can say that my culture has been shared around the world.”

Dances in a line in front of an audience
The BPSSC Senior Hip Hop Crew

Frances Story – Iceworks Design

APATA Ambassador Frances Story is Senior Set Designer for Brisbane’s Iceworks Design, designing, constructing and delivering sets across opera, ballet, circus, theatre, brand activations and television.

Frances has shared her story on the APATA podcast, take a listen, and as a former dancer who fell in love with production design, Frances understands well that creating a pathway in the arts is made all the more easier when you have support from family, friends, teachers and guides.

“I’m passionate about seeing those in the performing arts thrive. Live performance is incredibly powerful.” said Frances.

“It brings joy, can make us ponder, provides adventure or escape. It can make us just about burst with laughter or even well up with tears.

She acknowledged that, “Whilst it’s often hard work It’s an incredible privilege to work in the performing arts industry. My experience as a performer and set designer is in large part credit to the amazing educators, mentors and loved ones I have had cheering me on all these years.”

Jennifer, Natano Fa’anana & Frances Story / Huda Fadlelmawla

Huda Fadlelmawla – Cultural Liason Officer, BPSSC

Deputy Principal Jason English informed us the college has three Cultural Liason Officers supporting the First Nations, Pasifika and African students. To close the presentation Huda Fadlelmawla, Cultural Liason Officer for the BPSSC African students, who is also a spoken word poet, gave us a fantastic breakdown of what it is to have a sense of belonging.

You can’t hear our finger snaps (Poetry etiquette!!) but we were red raw. (Go to –  23min:09sec on the video to see and hear Huda in action.)

Leilani and her grandparents 

Unveiling of the School Haka

We were lucky to witness the unveiling of the new school Haka written by Mr Turner and the Pasifika students, and translated by Mr Turner’s cousin. A magic moment honouring Leilani that emboldened us all! Watch the Haka performance below or also in the presentation video @ 18min:17sec.

Congratulations Leilani Collins!!

Winner of the APATA National Performing Arts Student of the Year Award

Leilani and her parents 


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