South Auckland stand up.

Some of the country's top students will take part in a new production highlighting the lives of young Pacific leaders growing up in the Southside.

Produced by the well-known The Black Friars theatre company, Southside Rise tells the stories of Pasifika students called to be leaders within their schools, families, churches, sports teams and wider community.

The production is the first of its kind; involving 60 students from eight different schools from South Auckland: Wesley College, Rosehill College, Tangaroa College, Otahuhu College, De La Salle College, McAuley High School, Aorere College and Mangere College.

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Black Friars creative director Michelle Johansson said the students involved in the production were working hard to get to university, juggling studies with other responsibilities at home.

She acknowledged that many of those responsibilities were often unique to Pacific families.

One of the stories portrayed follows a teenage girl who cares for her ageing grandmother and has to take care of the younger children in her family while her parents are at work.

"They're leadership qualities that we don't always recognise in the Western system.

"So we wanted to be able to go into schools . . . just to say: 'Hey, we want to look at performance leadership, we want to look at what Polynesian literacy looks like'.

"We don't think literacy is writing stuff down on a page anymore. We think literacy is embodied and we think our performances - which are valued at Polyfest time - are undersold for the rest of the year.

"Performance is how we carry our heritage and carry our bloodline and we wanted to make that really valued to the young people of South Auckland."

The production is supported by Creative NZ, Teach First NZ, the Manukau Institute of Technology and the Mangere Arts Centre, where it will be shown.

All students taking part are involved in some form of leadership role at school, home, church or other part of the community.

Johansson said they worked closely with the schools' principals and drama teachers last year, when the students were in year 12.

Students had to meet three criteria: That they have some kind of leadership role, be bound for university and be able to perform on stage.

"We also wanted to give them a chance to work together, so this is the first time the schools will come together.

"I think when the schools come together, it's always adversarial. We're competing at Polyfest, we're competing on the field.

"But this is a claim for schools to come together and really be one together and look after each other."

Southside Rise will show in June and July.

**For dates and ticket info, visit: Southside Rise

Sixty student leaders from eight schools in South Auckland will take part in a new production, Southside Rise, which aims to raise awareness about Pacific leadership. Photo / Supplied
Sixty student leaders from eight schools in South Auckland will take part in a new production, Southside Rise, which aims to raise awareness about Pacific leadership. Photo / Supplied