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Poulima Salima

Composer, Moana Pacific Composer


Owner and director of SALIMA MUSIC LTD, established in 2010. I am a professional Composer, Educator and Director of Music. In 2005, I graduated with a Bachelor of Music Honours, specialising in Composition at The University of Auckland. I studied ‘music and text’ under the mentorship of Wagner expert Professor Heath Lees. My dissertation was based on Richard Wagner’s epic Ring of the Nibelung, which comprises four masterpiece full length operas.

I composed and published two Choral Songbooks for Samoan church choir: Lau Afioga Ali’i e, matou te naunau i ai in 2006 and Ua toe tu mai le Ali’i in 2008. All performed and recorded by Lufilufi Methodist Youth Choir.

In 2007, I was Music Director and Composer for Pacific theatre production LENA, directed by Justine Simei-Barton - “Composer Poulima Salima's choral expertise provides many lovely moments with his songs book-ending much of the action” - NZ Herald.

Following that year, I composed original duets and solo songs, choral and orchestral music for theatre production AUTE MA FAGALOA - Starring renowned New Zealand Pop singer Vince Harder. Script written by Paul So’oula Tufuga and directed by Popo Lilo.

In 2009, I was composing other exciting projects for television, short film, animation and game. I scored music to Popo Lilo’s short film O LE PE’A, premiered at Auckland’s Pacific Island short film festival - Pollywood.

I composed the music for choreographed dance NAFANUA directed and choreographed by Iosefa Enari. Nafanua was premiered at the Auckland Festival of Dance and was selected and performed at New Zealand’s Dance Festival – Tempo 09.

Also in 2009, I was awarded Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Emerging Artist Award for my musical contribution and innovation in the Arts.

In 2010, I was appointed as Music Specialist and Instructor for Pacific Music at Auckland University’s Pacific Studies department – focussing on traditional Pacific choral music.

In 2011, I was Music Composer, Orchestrator and Conductor for New Zealand’s first professional Pacific Musical THE FACTORY – directed by founders of the Kila Kokonut Krew; Vela Manusaute and Anapela Polata’ivao. All songs were accompanied by live strings ensemble and band. All 25 shows (4 week season) were held at the Mangere Arts Centre. Sell-out, successful and reviewed as “A knockout blow” – NZ Herald.

Following that, I composed music to Chantelle Burgoyne’s short film – TATAU. This film was selected as part of the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts programme in 2012’s New Zealand International Film Festival in both Auckland and Wellington. Also, accepted into the 32nd Hawai’i International Film Festival, October 2012.

In 2013, I was Co-Composer, Arranger and Conductor for THE FACTORY season performance as part of the acclaimed Auckland Arts Festival. All 7 shows sold out, highly successful and reviewed as “Triumph” and “A super opening for the Auckland Festival” and “The Pacific Les Misérables” - NZ Herald.

Also in 2013, I scored music to film TUSALAVA by renowned New Zealand artist Len Lye. This was part of an Art Exhibition produced by Art Curator James Pinker and presented at the Mangere Arts Centre in March 2014. In 2018, this project was part of the prestigious new gallery TOI ART at Wellington’s Te Papa Museum.

I was the award winner of the inaugural BEST Mayor of Auckland Awards 2013 - ‘Pasifika Industry Trailblazer’. For my music compositions for stage and screen productions and pioneering the way forward for future generations to follow.

In 2014, I was Composer and pianist for Pacific Musical THE FACTORY International tour to Australia – cities toured: Adelaide, Parramatta, Canberra, Wollongong and Gold Coast. Gold Coast media release quoted: “...a soundtrack written by Poulima Salima of the most heartfelt music to come from across the Tasman”...Canberra Theatre review mentioned: “Richness and vitality the key to success”, Parramatta review: “...a new, fresh musical that is worthy of tours Internationally”.

The Factory was a head-lining show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland – and all 26 shows were performed in the main principal theatre. Metro Scotland gave 5 stars and Broadway Baby reviewed it as “An absolute joy to behold”. In total, there were 46 live performances; highly successful and well reviewed.

In August 2015, I was commissioned to compose for Flute – for the COMMONWEALTH RESOUNDS - PANORPHEUS. Countries that are part of the Commonwealth have commissioned Composers to compose a short piece reflecting the character, spirit, culture and atmosphere of the Pacific. Performances held in Malta-United Kingdom.

Also that year, a privilege to be working on my project entitled ANAMUĀ. Creative NZ endorsed the composing and workshop stages of the project and currently looking into preparing for a weeklong season in 2023. Workshops started from Monday 23rd February to Friday 27th February, preview showing opened to the public on Saturday 28th February held at the Mangere Arts Centre. Songs performed by renowned singers ADEAZE (Nainz and Vi’iz Tupa’i), Milly Grant and TJ Taotua and accompanied by a professional 8-piece music ensemble. This project is inspired by the stories (tala fa’asolopito), honourifics (fa’alupega) and history (tala vavau) of my homeland family villages of Safotu and Faletagaloa-Safune, Savai’i Samoa.

From 2016-2017, I was a guest music tutor at P.I.P.A (Pacific Island Performing Arts) for their Summer school and Certificate programmes.

Also in 2017, I was commissioned to compose music to short film MARIA. Produced by Karen Williams, directed by Jerry Tauamiti and written by Taofia Pelesasa. This Short film is funded by NZ Film Commission (June 2015). MARIA won the acclaimed International PBS Online Film Festival Most Popular Film Award - it got the most watches, likes and shares out of 24 films nominated by PSB partners across the United States of America. International credits to Festivals and Awards also in 2017: Hawaii International Film Festival, Pollywood Pasifika Film Festival, Skábmagovat Saami Film Festival, MFAT South American Roadshow of New Zealand Films, Māoriland Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Wairoa Māori Film Festival - Moana Award for Best Pasifika Short Film, Présence Autochtone: Montreal First Peoples Festival, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Native Cinema Showcase, Pacific Cine Waves, Whau Pacific Festival, Berlin Down Under Film Festival, Siapo Cinema Wellington, imagine NATIVE Media Arts Festival, Nuku'alofa Film Festival, Hokianga Film Festival, Show Me Shorts, Aussie and Kiwi Film Festival Prague, FIFO Tahiti Film Festival, Te Kuki Airani Film Festival, Native Crossroads Oklahoma.

I was Composer and Music Director for New Zealand’s first ever Pasifika-Africa Theatre Production IN TRANSIT. Collaborating with world class musicians, Pacific dance group Ura Tabu, Africa connection Community and directed by founder of Tala Pasifika Productions Ltd - Justine Simei-Barton. Rehearsals started February - production season from the 4th to 13th May 2017.

Also that year, I was commissioned by former Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Hon. Misa Telefoni Retzlaff and family to research music of his late mother Piliopo Nelson-Retzlaff. She was the composer to popular Samoan global hit song “Tautalatala/Too much talk” - a song recently performed by Ata Johnson and Hollywood movie star and Son of Samoa Seiuli Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the Jimmy Fallon show in February 2021. This project will honour Piliopo’s music, legacy and those that performed and appreciated her music. Piliopo’s music to feature in this year’s 11th International Samoana Jazz and Arts Festival 2022 in Samoa and Tutuila/American Samoa.

In 2018, I was Composer for theatre classic THINK OF A GARDEN by world renowned playwright and screenwriter John Kneubuhl. This story entails “the Samoan view of family, deference for the dead, behaviour in times of mourning, even concepts of time - all are deftly etched beside the story of Samoa's early move towards Le Mau/Independence. The effect is a story as textured as a fine mat”. Directed by Anapela Polata’ivao and produced by T.A.P.A. (Tautua Aiga Performing Arts) in association with Nathan Homestead, Manurewa South Auckland. Music accompanied live by professional musicians. Summer theatre in the Garden - Production season from the 25th of January to the 28th 2018.

I was appointed as Musical Director and Composer for theatre production ROSALINA produced by Dance Theatre Company SAU E SIVA (Dec. 2018). A theatre production told through music, song and choreographed dance. The sold-out performance season held at the Mangere Arts Centre.

I composed, orchestrated and conducted music for ALOFAGIA: LE OPERA. A mesmerising, new Pacific opera - weaving ancient Polynesian sounds and echoing a time when gods governed the sea, sky, air and fire, this Samoan opera is a rhythmic composition of tatau/malu, expressed through music, song and movement. Directed by Anapela Polata’ivao, produced by TAPA (Tautua Aiga Performing Arts) in association with Nathan Homestead. There were 9 original songs composed for Pene Pati, Amitai Pati and Moses Mackay of Internationally renown opera trio SOL3 MIO, 12-piece strings orchestra, a band, choir and orators. Production season from 14th-16th February 2019, at the Nathan Homestead, David Park, Manurewa. This production has been invited to perform as part of the AUCKLAND LIVE in the near future - at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

I composed for short film Ka Mua Ka Muri: Backwards Into The Future directed by Karin Williams and produced by Sharlene George from the Sweet Shop New Zealand Ltd. Funded by a European arts organisation: Art For The World headed by Adelina Von Furstenburg. The film was premiered at Rome International Film Festival 2019 in the interdependence anthology of 11 short films by ART of The World, raising awareness about climate change.

In 2021, I composed for theatre production Things That Matter commissioned and developed by Auckland Theatre Company. By Gary Henderson, adapted from the memoir by Dr. David Galler and directed by Anapela Polata’ivao. An inspirational and life-affirming story that shines a light on the importance of humanity and the challenging decisions that doctors, families and society face. All performances were scheduled at Auckland City’s ASB Waterfront Theatre before it was cancelled due to the Auckland delta variant virus. In 2023, Things That Matter had a successful season from 12th August to 27th August at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland City. Reviewed by an audience attendee “by far one of the best plays they've seen in Auckland. The production, acting and the overall experience was top-notch” and Theatre Scene reviewed “Poulima Salima’s spine-chilling music added to the drama".

Also that year, I composed for Pasifika-Australia film URCHIN. Directed and written by Taofia Pelesasa. Produced by Pelesasa Pictures based in Western Sydney Australia. The film has been screened all over the world from London to Hawai’i, from Sweden to Tahiti. In June 2022, URCHIN is part of Aotearoa’s Maori and Film Festival - New Zealand’s Premier International Indigenous Film Festival.

In May 2022, I revised and reprinted my first and second choral songbooks from 2006 and 2008 to celebrate NZ music month, Samoa’s 60th Independence and honouring Samoan language week (May-June 2022). My third choral songbook to be released by August of this year.

In June, I was commissioned alongside five other distinguished New Zealand composers to compose new piano works which will be premiered in New Zealand and the United States of America, and will be recorded on Rattle Records in 2023. These new piano works is based on the theme “Perspectives” reflecting on the last 2 years. All piano pieces performed by world renowned concert pianist, Professor Henry Wong Doe. He is one of New Zealand's most widely travelled and highly-regarded concert pianists of his generation - and has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Juilliard School, studying with Joseph Kalichstein. A passionate educator as well as performer, Henry Wong Doe serves on the music faculty as Professor of Piano and Keyboard Area Chair at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

From December 2022 to February 2023, I was commissioned by The Telefoni Retzlaff Charitable Trust to compose music to the Safune story (where the story originated from) and Ta’isi O.F. Nelson’s Motto “E leai se Gaumata’u, na o le Gaualofa”/“When love thrives, hate cannot survive” to the Opera format. The true Samoan story was written by former Head of State and Prime Minister of Samoa, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi. A defining moment in his composing career to work closely with Tui Atua and set original music to his Samoan text. In February 2024, GAUALOFA was workshopped by 3 renowned opera soloists, the Auckland Chamber choir and orchestra.

I was commissioned by the acclaimed NZ Trio to arrange and orchestrate Traditional Pacific choral music and chants as part of their collaboration with Pacific Dance NZ for their 'TOLU' production - a showcase of artistic fusion and melodic brilliance. The NZTrio is described as a “national treasure” and “New Zealand’s most indispensable ensemble” (William Dart, NZ Herald).

In December 2023, I was commissioned to compose the Signature score for theatre production O le Pepelo, le Gaoi, ma le Pala'ai Co-Written and Directed by Natano Keni and Sarita Keo Kossamak So. The NZ Herald reviewed it as "a powerful and thought-provoking Samoan play that everyone needs to see". A collaboration between Auckland Theatre Company, Auckland Arts Festival and I Ken So Productions.

For the last 18 years, I have been mentored by Internationally renowned Maestro Gary Daverne ONZM. He is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful composers. He is a composer, arranger, conductor, director, record producer and founder of The Auckland Symphony Orchestra (ASO).

I am a member of the SOUNZ Composers Advisory Panel - as Moana Pasifika Composer representative.

I am determined to push boundaries to a new and bolder future across many platforms, artistic interdisciplinary art forms, and mediums at a world-class level.

Find Poulima Salima on Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn | WordPress | SoundCloud | Twitter

"The world needs to access and hear our Pacific worldview of music. I am constantly fascinated by our depth in gafa (genealogy), way of life, identity (Fa'asinomaga) and culture (Aganu'u) - our unique storytelling is founded in song, dance and oratory. My passion is to continue to share and trailblaze our Pasifika sound to the world.” — Poulima Salima

Composed (17)


music for a theatre production

Aute ma Fagaloa

a musical theatre production


music for choreographed dance

In Transit

music for a theatre production


music for a theatre production

Lo'u Molimau/My Testimony

for solo piano, 9m


music for a theatre production


music for a short film

Neverwinter Nights 2

music for an animated game trailer

O le Pe'a

music for a short film

The Factory

a musical theatre production

Things That Matter

music for a theatre production

Think of a Garden

music for a theatre production

Resources (34)

Poulima Salima | LinkedIn

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Poulima Salima | SoundCloud

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Poulima Salima | Twitter

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Poulima Salima | WordPress

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Salima Music | Facebook

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Salima Music | YouTube

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Performances (2)

Auckland Theatre Company | Things That Matter

Featuring music by Poulima Salima. A tender and articulate account of the compassion and chang...


Prepare to be swept away on a rhythmic journey as Pacific Dance NZ, and NZTrio join forces to pre...