Hugh Jackman paid a visit to South Campus this morning, announcing the New Zealand dates for a global tour by singing live with AUT’s Oceanian Voices choir.
The visit from Hugh, plus actor and singer Keala Settle, who played the bearded woman in the 2017 film, The Greatest Showman, was a complete surprise to the choir who have been rehearsing 'This is me' and 'A Million Dreams' for weeks. They were told shortly before going on stage that they were about to meet, and sing with, the Hollywood legend.
Not only did the choir get to meet Hugh and Keala and sing two of the film’s hits, staff and students performed a haka and presented gifts to the pair. South Campus also hosted hundreds of media at the closed event attending the New Zealand launch of the global arena tour – The Man, The Music, The Show.
The decision to announce the New Zealand dates at AUT’s South Campus was not accidental. In 2018 a video of Oceanian Voices’ performance of 'This is Me' went viral and caught the attention of today’s guests. These songs have been selected by the choir because the lyrics are particularly pertinent and powerful to the students.
"I chose to be here because I saw a 3-minute 42-second video and it was like a bullet to my heart," Hugh told the audience. "This morning I saw the choir warm up and I started to cry. You can’t fake heart and it is my privilege to be here today."
"This is a special place. When I met the Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor I said 'Congratulations. You are creating something here that allows people to flourish and be themselves.'"
Today’s exclusive launch and live performance saw hundreds of media descend upon South Campus, giving AUT an important opportunity to talk about the work the University is doing in south Auckland.
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is South Auckland’s only university. Our South Auckland campus was established in 2010.
AUT is ranked in the top 1.2% of global universities and in 2018 was ranked number one in New Zealand for research impact. South Auckland students are taught by leaders in their fields.
Around 43% of South Aucklanders are under the age of 25 and the area is among the fastest growing population in the country. It also contains the lowest socio-economic communities in the city.
More than one in five of AUT’s 30,000 students and around one-third of students at South Campus now come from areas with the highest deprivation scores.
Despite the challenges, these students do what it takes to complete a world-class tertiary education and AUT works on initiatives to inspire and support them. Two examples:
Navigation Station builds connections with local schools to develop aspiration for higher education amongst school children from years 8 to 10.
UniPrep is a 5-week intensive summer programme to support students from areas of deprivation and poverty to give them access to the opportunity of higher-education. Working in close collaboration with high schools, AUT targets students who have the potential to succeed at university but whose high school exam results are not a true reflection of their potential.
The UniPrep programme includes formal courses; team and confidence building; leadership and other skills for success. Participants complete a set of challenges, including forming a choir in four hours and singing a song allocated to them.
In 2018 the song was ‘This is me’ and the video of their performance went viral and caught the attention of today’s guests. The song for 2019 is ‘A million dreams’. These songs are selected because the lyrics are particularly pertinent and powerful to the students.
Both Navigation Station and UniPrep are just two of a suite of initiatives that AUT delivers to the South Auckland region through its Oceanian Leadership Network (OLN). Through these initiatives, the OLN creates a network of leaders who are empowered to drive positive change and achieve success for themselves, their families and the communities in which they live. The choir that is performing today to back our esteemed guests have come from this legion of leaders (who are called Navigators) and is called “Oceanian Voices”.
The global arena tour – The Man, The Music, The Show – opens in Glasgow in May before moving through Europe and North America. It will run in Australia through August before heading to New Zealand.
Hugh will perform songs from The Greatest Showman, Les Miserables and other moments from his career on Broadway.