The Pule’anga brothers: Johnny, Phoenix and Matthew, born and bred in Ōtara; The heart of South Auckland, better known as The Home of the Brave or The Promised Land. Growing up on Clayton Avenue in the early 2000’s, the three mischievous boys stayed with Mum & Dad and older brother George, attending Bairds Mainfreight Primary School. In 2005, they moved to a new house on Vickerman Road, Flatbush where their lives changed immensely…
The three experienced so many obstacles, such as financial struggle, family issues, underlined bullying, class intimidation, injuries, unassisted puberty and many more. But above all of that, they gained things like brotherhood, life-lessons, the value of yumyum noodles, and a childhood that this generation could never relive: playing manhunt, 2-step tiggy on the park, go home stay home, bull-rush, creating bikes from the organic, weeklong sleep overs at a friends but most importantly, they met a youth program that they could not be more grateful for.
Cross power Ministries’274 Youth-core – Team of 2007, led by Allan Va’a, ran events for Ōtara youth that had such a huge impact on the kids who came through their doors. Through this initiative has brought out some of the most influential leaders in South Auckland because of the sense of purpose they instill into all the lost children in the hood. Which leads me to the birth of KRASH Dance Crew (Keep Real And Stay Humble) – a bunch of hoodlums from all over Ōtara, who were interested in dancing. Next to Cross power, was Dziah Dance Studio; where most of the legends of New Zealand Hip Hop have derived from. Phoenix was offered to go over to dance for a Dziah crew called DejaVu in 2009 where he competed in Nationals, placing 2nd and qualifying for his first international competition. He went onto his first World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas, placing 4th in the World Junior Division. Then went on to compete in the World Supremacy Battlegrounds in Melbourne, placing 5th. In 2010, Matthew joined DejaVu and went on his first World Hip Hop Dance Champs where they placed 13th then lastly Johnny joined Dziah Dance Academy. In the end of 2011, the original KRASH came under Dziah as a Varsity crew, and the three brothers were dancing altogether again. They entered their first competition: Groove NZ, where they placed 11th. The next year (2012), they were training hard for gigs and competed in Battlegrounds (formally Groove) again and this time they placed 3rd – qualifying for Battlegrounds in Australia but due to a mishap with ego’s and attitudes, the Team got disciplined by cancelling the trip.
This is where it gets interesting! So in 2013, KRASH competed in Auckland Regionals and unexpectedly came out on top, placing 1st and qualifying to National Champs. Up against some very prestigious crews, KRASH placed 3rd after Sorority and Kani Krew; qualifying to our very first World Hip Hop Dance Championships as brothers from the hood. Going on, we placed 4th at Preliminaries and placed 11th in Semi-finals and not moving onto Finals. Then the next year (2014), KRASH placed 4th at Auckland Regionals, and something very compelling took place at Nationals.
In pre-lims, KRASH placed 10th. Knowing that only Top 3 in the Varsity Division would qualify to the World Hip Hop Championships, they were working all night; altering the set to kill it at Finals the next day, giving that they had nothing to lose. So after the boys slayed the stage at Finals, they had no thought of jumping up to Top 3 so when results were being read out, they were just sitting down at the back of the crews backstage. But when Varsity results came up, Judges announced “In third place, KRASH…….” All the crews backstage were in total shock, more so Dziah – and after realization, the KRASH Boys all sprung up in triumph and ran onto stage jumping for joy and thinking ‘what the heck just happened?’ Never in history has a crew jumped 7 places and KRASH did just that.
The 3 brothers, and Mark all auditioned for Prestige 2015 Mega crew and they all made it into the crew. Although it was hard to let go of Dziah and all the memories they’ve made with them, it was time to venture out and grow in a different environment. Well they were in Prestige, they competed in Nationals and placed 2nd, under the return of The Royal Family. But instead of going to the World Hip Hop Dance Champs, they had something else in mind: World of Dance. They travelled to the capital of New Zealand: Wellington to compete in the qualifying round for World of Dance Finals, which was held in Los Angeles. Placing 1st, the boys represented NZ in LA and managed to place 7th against 60 crews across the globe. Then Prestige ended off on a quiet note and concluded what was an awesome year.
As 2015 came to a close, the Pule’anga brothers were in a predicament on what they were all doing for 2016. With Johnny just finding a job, Phoenix graduating from High School, and Matthew entering Year 12 (NCEA Level 2). After a meeting with their Dad, the boys agreed that Johnny would put Design school on hold while he works and re-audition for Prestige, Phoenix will minimize extra-curricular activity (including dancing) to focus on his first year of University, and Matthew will audition for the Royal Family under a scholarship.
Now the Pule’anga brothers are separated for the first time, after dancing together for 5 years, but are still rooting for each other whilst they grind in their own fields. And have established a new name for the Trio: ‘Parliament’.
Story by Phoenix Pule'anga / Photo courtesy of Misi Chan Photography