Tautai

Tautai

Tautai Headquarters: When Tautai reopens its doors, it will be to a beautiful expanded space of over 500 square metres

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Tautai HQ is now open! Office hours are 9am–5:30pm, Mon–Fri

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TAUTAI FALE-SHIP Home Residencies – Artist callout for a NEW Moana activationApply.

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Our activation Postcards Unlocked showcased 40 artists over 40 days during Aotearoa’s lockdown, see it in its entirety here.

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Jasmine Togo-Brisby

Postcards Unlocked: Jasmine Togo-Brisby is an Australian South Sea Islander (Vanuatu) Multidisciplinary Artist

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Dan Taulapapa McMullin Q&A with CSM

Tautai Q&A: Talanoa with Tautai’s Director and Sāmoan artist and poet Dan Taulapapa McMullin

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Contact Tautai

Looking to connect with us? Please do! We would love to hear from you

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Tusiata Avia Q&A

TAUTAI Q&A: Talanoa with Tautai’s Director and poet Tusiata Avia

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Courtney Sina Meredith Viva 2020

Courtney Sina Meredith and Janet Lilo at home with VIVA

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Postcards Unlocked

Postcards Unlocked: Digital postcards from Pasifika artists across Aotearoa and beyond

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About Tautai

Tautai Logo Black 2020

Tautai is Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation with a multidisciplinary focus

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Covid-19

Covid-19 update from Tautai HQ

Office now open. Hours: 9am–5:30pm, Mon–Fri

Please call ahead or email us to schedule a visit

Now we are open again we will be adhering to government guidelines around Covid-19.

The safety of the community and our staff is our top priority, therefore we will be taking the following precautions:

  • Please ring our office landline +64 9 3761665 or email us to schedule a visit/ meeting/ appointment with a staff member
  • On arrival you must sign into GuestHQ by scanning the QR code with your mobile phone and completing your details
  • A maximum of 10 people are allowed in the office at all times

Please remember:

  • If you are unwell, stay at home
  • Exercise social distancing at all times
  • Please wash your hands, we will provide hand sanitizer for our visitors
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Be respectful and patient, we are doing our best to adjust to this new way of life.

Once we are back in the office we will get the ball rolling on opening our gallery.

Stay up to date on our announcements regarding the Moana Legacy exhibition opening by following our social media accounts and joining our mailing list. We can’t wait to share our new space with you all! Thank you for your ongoing support during this tough time.

We have been working hard to stay connected, head over to our website tautai.org to see what we have been doing to share alofa and creativity over the past eight weeks.

Meitaki ma’ata,
Team Tautai


Tautai HQLevel 1, 300 Karangahape Road
Tautai onlineFacebook | Instagram | Website | Twitter | Youtube | LinkedIn | Pre-2020 Web Archive

For general enquiries please email us
Visit our contact page for further information
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Fale-ship Callout

TAUTAI FALE-SHIP Home Residencies 

Artist call-out for new Moana activation

Applications close Friday 5th June 2020 at midday.  

The TAUTAI FALE-SHIP Home Residencies will feature 20 Moana artists over five months via Tautai’s website and social media platforms between July – December 2020. Artists will undertake a 1-week deep dive into exploring the creative wellbeing, inspiration, disruption, and coping mechanisms used as part of their creative processes. Each artist will receive $1000 NZD koha. This opportunity is open to arts practitioners from visual arts, music, sculpture, dance, design, poetry, prose, performing arts, film and fashion through to emerging art forms.  

Moana artists make some of their best work at home; at the kitchen table, in living rooms surrounded by family, in bedrooms and garages, in home studios where we feel safe and connected to those around us. We are constantly creating and thinking of new ideas, informed by the people and places that give life to our creativity.  

“Now is the time, more than ever, to celebrate and support artists in our own back yard.”

Courtney Sina Meredith, Director of Tautai 

We invite our community to share their home practice as artists in residence, responding to a period of global transformation through a localised lens. Experienced digitally but grounded in the physical, the TAUTAI FALE-SHIP Home Residencies place value on the everyday experiences of Moana artists operating in their own centres.  

APPLY NOW
If you’re interested in the ‘TAUTAI FALE-SHIP Home Residencies’ – please submit the following information via email to Tautai or, Download the application brief here

APPLICATION DETAILS
When emailing your application, in the subject line please include: Full name + FALE-SHIP Application

1. About you
A short biography also including; ethnicity/ villages/ identifiers, and your practice

2. Images
1x hi-res profile image of yourself
5x hi-res images or links of your work (please label)
2x hi-res images of your home and or creative workspace
1x hi-res image of where the residency will take place (suburb & city)

3. Contact details
Full contact details and social media handles 

4. Proposal
1x 500 word description of your residency proposal and how you would respond to 3 of the following explorations:
– Show us something
– Tell us something
– Teach us something
– Write us something
– Perform something
– Create something.

Applications are due by Friday 5th June 2020 at midday
Assessments will take place 5-11 June and applicants will be notified by Friday 12 June 5pm 2020
Successful artists will be paid $1000 NZD koha in two installments: 50% towards development and 50% upon completion.

Follow our wave as we navigate the digital Moana together.

For further information please email us 
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Postcards Unlocked bookend

Postcards Unlocked

Digital postcards from Pasifika artists across Aotearoa and beyond

Postcards Unlocked was a digital activation featuring 40 artists over 40 days. The project was launched during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown in Aotearoa to encourage meaningful connections through the digital moana to uplift our community and celebrate Pacific creativity. Additionally, Postcards Unlocked provided some financial relief for the community, as each featured artist was gifted a koha.

“Founded on sharing and alofa, Postcards Unlocked sustained our community through a time of great change. I’m proud of the belonging and the connectedness we created together.”

Courtney Sina Meredith, Tautai Director

Every postcard offered a peek into the creative process and inspiration from members of Tautai’s treasured Pasifika arts community – covering visual arts, music, dance, tatau, design, poetry, prose, performance, film, fashion, and emerging art forms. The mixture of participating artists allowed us to tautoko some well-known names as well as emerging talents working in a variety of mediums. 

“I [was] proud as a pineapple to be a part of this amazing Postcards Unlocked project, which was nothing short of brilliant.”

Dessa Bluu, Postcard artist

The activation used Tautai’s social media channels as a platform and included artists at all stages of their careers, from all over Aotearoa and beyond. Using the digital moana we extended the reach of Pacific art during a time when people were using the internet more than ever. Originally the tagline for Postcards Unlocked was “30 days 30 artists” but due to the overwhelmingly positive response to the project we showcased an additional 10 artists, resulting in the 40 postcards over 40 days. Tautai felt the alofa from our community with many likes, shares, comments, and new followers across our social channels – the Tautai Facebook Page now has over 5,000 followers!

Tautai exists to uplift and celebrate Pacific art in its many forms. We acknowledge the participating artists who made every day a journey of discovery for our aiga and supporters. As we ease our way out of lockdown in Aotearoa we are adapting to meet the needs of a changing world. Placing our makers and our thinkers at the forefront of all we do – there are new opportunities on the horizon grounded in the resilience and innovation of Postcards Unlocked.

The Entire Postcards Collection

For further information please email us.
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Jasmine Togo-Brisby Postcard

Jasmine Togo-Brisby

An Australian South Sea Islander (Vanuatu) Multidisciplinary Artist

Postcards Unlocked #40

I have been locked out of my studio for 4 weeks and I’m finding that my current creative outlet lies within the kitchen. I reach for the bag of sugar and pour it into the pot of coconut milk. This is not my first batch of pani popo since lock down. My daughter stands at the bench behind me and slathers heaped spoonfuls of golden syrup onto coconut fried scones… And all over the bench. Occasional treats have turned into frequent requests. Warm, sweet, reliable comfort food, served up as symbols of love to my family during these trying times.

Our relationship with sugar however surpasses that of its soothing and addictive lure, the sweetness belies our bitter history. The genesis of our story is often referred to as blackbirding, a widely used but euphemistic term for the Pacific slave trade. Early Australian sugarcane plantation owners employed a strategic economic policy of sourcing ‘indentured labourers’ from the Melanesian archipelagos. As South Sea Islanders, Australian born descendants of the Pacific slave trade, these sugar companies are part of our history and material culture.

We are a Pacific slave diaspora, displaced and disenfranchised in Australia through forced migration. Our community has had to reconcile the loss of customary practices and create new practices to tell our stories and ways of being.

“In the practice of reclaiming of cultural identity, I reach for sugar. Raw and unrefined. I produce uniquely South Sea hybrid forms constructed from the binaries of loss and creation.”

Jasmine Togo-Brisby

Our ancestors would call it ‘had wok’, they wouldn’t call it ‘sugar’, they would say “Passem had wok” (pass the hard work).

We were used to create sugar… So, I use sugar to create for us.

Jasmine Online
Facebook: Jasmine Togo-Brisby | Instagram: @jasmine.togo_brisby

The Postcards Unlocked Collection
View Jasmine’s original postcard here.

For further information please email us 
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Q&A with CSM: Dan Taulapapa McMullin

Q&A with Courtney Sina Meredith

Talanoa with Tautai’s Director and Sāmoan artist and poet Dan Taulapapa McMullin

Dan Taulapapa McMullin Tautai
Image: Soa (2016) photocollage on aluminum by Dan Taulapapa McMullin

CSM: Firstly, where are you in lockdown and who’s in your bubble?
DTM: My partner Stephen and I live in Hudson, New York (although I will be living again in Aotearoa later this year and going back and forth again over the next few years). Our town is a country village of people from The City, as we call New York City, who migrated up here, or have second homes here, for the farms and green mountains. There are a lot of gays, lesbians, transgenders, straight women, who were involved with Act Up during the height of the AIDS era, so I think of it as an Act Up retirement community. And we’re known as an arts community: Glenn Ligon, David Hammons, Philip Glass, Robert Ashbery, many artists, composers, and poets, reside in our small town of 5,000 people, and more in the surrounding country side, in barns converted to art studios, but mostly those are working farms still. Stephen recently had heart surgery so we’re being very careful, a young friend does our shopping. I work in my studio, Stephen works upstairs creating piles of paperwork, mostly pro bono legal work for community groups. Also we have a schnoodle (schnauzer-poodle) named Roby. Meanwhile, I’m in daily contact with friends and colleagues like Yuki Kihara in Samoa, Sia Figiel in Florida, Albert Refiti in Aotearoa, Maia Nuku back in New York City, and the editors of Queernesia a book project I’m co-editing, and the curators of Hudson Eye an exhibition series here in Hudson, so I’m constantly in conversation through text, FB, Zoom, Skype, phone, email, and so on.

CSM: How has COVID-19 impacted your creative plans for 2020?
DTM: Yes, well, I was hoping to be in Aotearoa in July to work on a PhD with Albert Refiti and Welby Ings but that’s delayed. Also I’m involved with Hudson Eye which is the main arts series locally in this part of upstate New York, curated by Jonah Bokaer and Aaron Levi Garvey, and our plans are in flux as we cope with the changing protocols around COVID-19 and public spaces.

CSM: As an artist, what are the learnings you’ll retain from this time of crisis?
DTM: Communication! I’ve become a better communicator. I used to hate the phone, still do mostly ignore it, but I do like scheduled video conversations, and like almost everyone I know, I’ve become a regular on Zoom. I’ve also found that globally the world, which shows through the internet, has slowed down in physical space but seems to move more easily in cyber or mental spaces, the cyber Vā, and the mixed Vā that is our immediate space-time and cyber space-time intertwined.

Dan Taulapapa McMullin Tautai
Motu Fa’afafine (2019), photo collage on paper | Dan Taulapapa McMullin

CSM: Who are you inspired to reach out to and collaborate with next?
DTM: I’m working on a photo-colllage/graphic-novel historical work A Queer History of Polynesia, based on archival research of the past couple years that was the background work for Taulaitu my a novel-in-progress. Albert Refiti and AUT have been supportive of this work, and Rosanna Raymond as well. I will also return to collaborating with my co-editor of Samoan Queer Lives (2018), Yuki Kihara, on a text and poems I’m writing for the book of Yuki Kihara’s Paradise Camp exhibition, the book will launch at the Venice Biennale next year. And I’ve been invited by Tagi Qolouvaki, No’u Revilla, and Leiana Naholowa’a to co-edit an anthology of queer Pacific writing and art that we’re calling Queernesia, which is part of the Oceania Literary Series published by University of Hawaii Press. The series is curated by Craig Santos Perez who with Brandy Nālani McDougall edited my book of collected poems Coconut Milk (2013). So that’s all sort of set in place. At the moment I’m working on a sort of cubist influenced portrait of Sia Figiel so I’m chatting about that with her, she texts me photos etc.

CSM: What sort of developments and disruptions would you like to see in the arts worldwide?
DTM: In Aotearoa, and somewhat in Australia, there’s a Pacific Islander contemporary arts presence, but not globally. That needs to change globally on the international stage, in order for the Pacific Islands to have more hegemony over our fates. Also in the American island states and territories (Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam-Guahan, Micronesia) and in the diaspora in “the mainland” (such a horrible expression) there’s almost absolute invisibility. To be frank, it’s more likely that a Pacific artist from Aotearoa will represent us in a public space in the U.S. than an artist from the U.S. island areas, it’s rare for a Pacific Islander from the U.S. territories to have work shown in the U.S., it almost never happens, believe me I know! I think also this is a problem in the French and Spanish territories – Chilean territories, wherever the white power structure is invested in suppressing indigenous voices. Our global presence as Pacific peoples is nonetheless growing, and I hope it becomes even more diverse and stronger year by year.

Dan Taulapapa McMullin Tautai
The Last and The First (2019), photo collage on paper | Dan Taulapapa McMullin

CSM: Can you share any strategies around work/ life balance and artistic replenishment – especially while you’re in New York, the epicentre of COVID-19?
DTM: Thanks to my supportive partner, we have a city apartment in Hoboken, which is on the Hudson River across from Manhattan, we’re a brief subway ride from Chelsea, but we haven’t been to the city apartment in months, and a lot of our NYC Pacific friends have returned to Aotearoa and Hawai’i because of the Coronavirus, or they are struggling in isolation in the city. In my work, as I’ve been doing the past couple years, I delve into the archives daily, it seems so many major publications of Pacific “oral tradition” and historical account and image are now available online, it’s a matter of search words, detective work, and developing language skills. I’ve been working on my Samoan, Hawaiian, Maori, Tongan, Fijian, Maohi, French, German, Spanish; I’m not fluent in anything but I have a working knowledge.

CSM: Who are the emerging artists you’re excited to see more from? 
DTM: I met Jahra Rager Wasasala when she was invited recently to perform at Atea the exhibition curated by Maia Nuku at the Metropolitan Museum. I’ve always loved Jahra’s poetry that I follow on the internet, but then her dancing blew me away, it reminded me of what felt like a turning point when I first saw Lemi Ponifasio’swork in Samoa in the 1990s and Rosanna Raymond’s work with Pacific Sisters at that time too. I also love what Pati Solomona Tyrell, Tanu Gago and all the FAFSWAG crew does, they’re beautiful and inspiring, they remind me of how I felt the first time I saw Yuki Kihara’s work, that spirit of camp and Fa’afafine mana that I identify with and feel at home in, although to the rest of the world it’s camp, to us it’s just life.

CSM: Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to share with Pasifika artists who may be struggling at this time?
DTM: Well, other than beware the “wisdom” of other artists, all I can offer is what I tell myself at times and rarely follow: Hold on, stay the course, believe when no one believes in you, because your ancestors believe in you, they put you here darling, that Alofa that created you is your Mana, do what you have to do to survive in life, and be kind to others and to yourself, but in art be fearless, take that walk into the unknown, your future is there in the darkness, that is where your light will shine.

Dan Online
Postards Unlocked: Dan’s Postcard | Instagram: @dantaulapapamcmullin | Website: taulapapa.com


More Q&A with CSM: Etanah Fuimaono-Lalau | Tusiata Avia

The Postcards Unlocked Collection

For further information please email us
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Contact Tautai

Contact Tautai

Looking to connect? Please do! We’d love to hear from you

At Tautai we champion Pacific creativity, so if you’re an artist, researcher, curator, educator, student, writer or journalist and would like to contact Tautai, there are several ways to get in touch.


Covid-19 update – While we are working away from our creative base on Karangahape Road, we will be contactable via email and mobile only.


Office Hours: Mon – Fri 9–5:30pm
Gallery Hours: Mon – Fri 10–4pm, closed weekends. Due to Covid 19 the gallery is currently closed.

After Hours:
We frequently have activated events which often run outside office and gallery hours.
To keep abreast of our activities subscribe or check out the latest on our website.

Physical Address:
Tautai HQ and Gallery,
level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Newton,
Auckland 1010, Aotearoa New Zealand

Postal Address:
Tautai Pacific Arts Trust
PO Box 68 339, Wellesley Street West,
Auckland 1010, Aotearoa New Zealand

Tautai Online:
Facebook | Instagram | Website | Twitter | Youtube | LinkedIn | Pre-2020 Web Archive

Contact Tautai
Tautai HQ, Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Auckland, Aotearoa

Tautai Information
Your first port of call, if you’re not sure what you need, email Tautai Info and Zoe will send you in the right direction.
Zoe Lewis, Tautai Assistant – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 21 065 1656

Tautai Gallery
Curious about an artist or wanting information on upcoming Tautai exhibitions and activities? Email Tautai Gallery and you’ll soon hear from our gallery expert Gloriana.
Gloriana Meyers, Gallery Assistant – ddi +64 376 1665 | +64 27 688 8518

Tautai Administration
Wanting to find someone specific or book in a meeting or anything logistical? Email Tautai Admin and Danielle will help you out – she runs everything.
Danielle Meredith, Operations Manager – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 22 561 4098

Tautai Media
Looking to feature an artist or Tautai activation? For content and media related enquiries, please email Tautai Media to connect with Aimée.
Aimée Ralfini, Strategic Programmes Manager – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 21 177 5939

Tautai Director
Interested in finding out about the future of Pacific creativity in Aotearoa? Needing an expert opinion on Oceanic expression? Email any of the above contacts first, or reach out to the Tautai Director and Courtney Sina Meredith will reply in due course.
Courtney Sina Meredith, Director – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 22 532 0806

For general enquiries please email us.
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Tautai Contact
Tautai HQ, Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road

Q&A with CSM: Tusiata Avia

Q&A with Courtney Sina Meredith

Talanoa with Tautai’s Director and Sāmoan poet Tusiata Avia

Tusiata Avia Q&A
Photo by Hayley Theyers


Courtney Sina Meredith: The year was 2008, I was a 22 year old newbie poet and I’d gone along to ‘Polynation’ at the Going West Books and Writers Festival in Titirangi to bear witness to some of my favourite Pasifika writers. I was already a big fan of Tusiata Avia’s work but I had never seen her perform live. She emerged about halfway through the programme, with her hair up in a gorgeous outfit, and she was unashamedly and completely herself. She owned it. Tusiata didn’t shape her words around the page, I was convinced the page bent with the heat of her verse.

Of course I hung around afterwards like the excited young blood I was, and as a student of Selina Tusitala Marsh’s I was brought into the tight circle of goddesses hanging out by the stage that included the likes of Karlo Mila and Serie Barford. Selina introduced me to everyone and I remember turning to Tusiata and telling her that I thought her work was amazing. She turned back and said – without missing a beat – that she’d heard of me and she was sure my writing would take me to New York one day. 

Fast forward seven years and I found myself working alongside her in Creative Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology. We worked together for over two years which was a dream, and in that time I was privileged to truly get to know her and her wonderful daughter Sepela. I find it hard to describe Tusiata without using the word ‘magical’, she has an extraordinary power completely unto herself that transcends time and space – collapsing the distance between herself and the reader, or herself and the audience, until you feel as though you are nestled in her ribcage while the power of her poetry moves through you.

True to Tusiata’s vision, I did make it to New York with my poetry. Magic happens when great leaders take the time to believe in the young people around them. The following talanoa honours our community by hearing directly from Tusiata with her thoughts and contemplations during lockdown. She continues to be an urgent and prominent voice within literature and performance in Aotearoa and beyond.



CSM: Firstly, where are you in lockdown and who’s in your bubble?
TA: I’m in Christchurch where I live and am in lockdown with my 12 year old daughter and my 86 year old mum. We are a small bubble, but certainly not the smallest. 


CSM: How are you feeling about the pandemic and what’s helping to get you through this extraordinary time?
TA: I experience varying degrees of anxiety depending on how trapped/ paralysed or managing-to-cope I’m feeling on the day. Sometimes I can listen to the PM’s updates and news re Covid and sometimes, to keep myself sane, I need to block it out and concentrate on getting through the next 2 minutes. In the last couple of days I’ve been doing virtual yoga with my friend online and that has helped hugely.


CSM: Are you finding inspiration in the new normal?
TA: Hmm, I wouldn’t exactly call it inspiration, I’ve got more to say on that in the last question. 


CSM: How has the lockdown impacted on your craft? 
TA: I work from home anyway, but I generally don’t do well alone. I’m very much like my dad in this way, I need to be around people, I am not a loner who is happy in my own company for more than a very short time. I think that’s also a common Sāmoan/ Pasifika way to be. Writing is traditionally such a solo art-form so I’m always looking for ways to do it in community: writing groups, being with other creatives as much as possible etc. In normal life, I usually write in cafes so I can be around people. I only really write at home when I’m drastically behind on a deadline or have to work at early hours of the morning. So, being stuck at home has meant my work has slowed right down. I’ve only written 3 new poems (one about Corona and I’ve lost the damn thing!). I know some artists are just loving all the time and space to themselves to work and are just pumping out stuff – I am not one of them.

Excerpt from Ode to da Life by Tusiata Avia | Auckland Writers & Readers Festival 2008


CSM: What are you reading, listening to, or watching right now?
TA: I’ve been reading a heap of novels – I love the novel’s ability to take me out of this world into another one. Also the poetry of Joy Harjo, who is also the current – and first ever – indigenous American Poet Laureate. She is one of my favourite poets. I’ve just finished her memoir ‘Crazy Brave‘ – fantastic. I’m watching comedies, anything that can make me laugh – ‘Man Down‘ is working quite well at the moment. My daughter and I have gone hard on ‘Laughing Samoans’ and every night is movie night with her, so lots of kids stuff. 


CSM: What are you looking forward to most once the country is back in good health?
TA: My daughter going back to school! That will be a huge relief for both of us – we’re driving each other mental! And of course, getting out of the damn house and being with my friends and family – face to actual beautiful face.


CSM: Is there anything else you want to share directly with other Pasifika creatives?
TA: I’d like to encourage any Pasifika creatives that are struggling. If you’re finding it hard to produce work please know that you’re in good company. I’m guessing that I’m not the only one finding it hard to work atm. Just do what you can manage, even if it’s just having a shower and brushing your teeth. That’s a win! I’m reminding you – and myself – that our creativity is a mysterious thing, it might not feel like anything is happening right now, that you are ‘wasting’ all this lockdown time. I encourage you to trust that your creative work will not disappear just because you may not be overflowing with inspiration and/ or the energy to make it into a physical thing. For some of us it is just underground, and that is an important place to work from when we are ready. 
 

Tusiata Online
Artist’s Postcard |    Facebook: Tusiata Avia

Q&A with CSM: Etanah Fuimaono-Lalau
The Postcards Unlocked Collection

For further information please email us  
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Courtney Sina Meredith Viva 2020

Power Art Couple Janet Lilo & Courtney Sina Meredith At Home In Avondale

Award-winning artists Courtney Sina Meredith and Janet Lilo find love in everything they do

Written by Andrew Glenn for Viva. March 25th 2020

A painting by Courtney’s cousin Danielle Meredith of them as children hangs in the lounge. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Sitting down with artists Courtney Sina Meredith and Janet Lilo in their Avondale home and listening to their story is compelling and uplifting. It’s a story filled with mana; tales about love, family, community and giving back.

It would be easy to just label them a “power” art couple; Courtney is an award-winning poet and the director of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust; Janet is an influential visual artist with permanent works in Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery.

Yet it’s soon evident that family and community are their most important works to date; each of them excelling in their respective roles as mothers, lovers, civic leaders and artistic pioneers.

Lately, Courtney’s focus has been on Tautai. Previously inhabited by Artspace (which has moved downstairs), the gallery is expanding to take over the whole of the first floor to include a new space, which is a first in Tautai’s 34-year history.

Tautai Contact
Tautai HQ, Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road

The new gallery, when it opens, will be a platform for artists making room for more exciting Pasifika-curated exhibitions. “Artspace has been an emblem for contemporary New Zealand art. So now to occupy that space and make it all about contemporary Pacific art, well there’s something really beautiful in that and something really now,” says Courtney.

“When we talk about the rise of Pacific art,” she continues, “I genuinely believe there’s a new consciousness, or an awareness, that [Pasifika artists] have always been here. That these aren’t new voices, it’s an awareness of those voices, and an infrastructure for those voices, and I’ll say it — new funding for the amplification of those voices — where we’re seeing change. More and more we’re having people in leadership positions who are saying ‘This is important to us; these are our key values’; it’s not just dressing.”

Ralph Brown Viva
Photograph by Ralph Brown of Coven. Photo / Babiche Martens.

She and Janet have known each other for years, since they were both high school students at Western Springs College, but fell in love and moved in together just a year ago. They share their home with Janet’s boys — Harry 12, Milo, 9, and Manaia, 3 — and Courtney’s “baby” Sadie Rose, a dachshund/shih tzu puppy.

Courtney has lived in the home for nearly two years; it’s been in a family trust for some time and several years ago she helped her father renovate it. With vast open views to the Waitakere ranges, the house has an enormous, slightly sloping backyard that the boys turn into a giant waterslide in summer.

Their love affair represents the merger of two incredibly talented Pacific artists. In addition to her role at Tautai, Courtney is an award-winning poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician.

She’s earned critical acclaim for her published works, including Tail of The Taniwha, a book of short stories, and The Adventures of Tupaia, the story of a Tahitian priest navigator who sailed on board the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first voyage to Aotearoa.

Janet, an artist, lecturer and social commentator, uses digital photography, video, and multimedia installations to explore issues of popular culture, and is prestigiously represented in permanent collections at the Auckland Art Gallery and Wellington’s Te Papa.

“I went to all of her shows, I fan-girled her!” says Courtney, who is four years younger than Janet. After high school their paths would criss-cross over the years.

Tautai Viva 2020
(From left) Courtney’s published books and poems; Chewed milk bottle collaboration with Janet and her dog. Photos / Babiche Martens.

When Courtney was 24, and working at Auckland Council, she curated an art project and recruited Janet to be involved. Subsequently through their mutual involvement with Tautai — Janet was previously on the board — a seed of friendship was born that later blossomed into love.

“Part of why we fell in love and why I’m so in love with Janet and so obsessed with her — I’m infatuated, I really am,” says Courtney, “[is that] there’s a natural ease in our relationship.

“I’ve never admired someone as much; I’ve never had a partner who I look across to and feel so inspired by, or in awe of, constantly. I find magic in all that she is, in all that she does.”

Courtney Sina Meredith

Their mutual love is palpable. Displayed on a living room sideboard table are a collection of works by Courtney, including the Poetry New Zealand 2020 Yearbook which features a love poem written from Courtney to Janet.

Will they plan on having children of their own? “It’s a work in progress,” says Janet, adding with a laugh. “We already have a fourth child, Sadie.”

Although Janet only recently moved in with Courtney, she is no stranger to Avondale, having grown up in the suburb with most of her family close by.

She’s also no stranger to giving back to her community; as a trustee of Whau the People Charitable Trust, an Avondale-based arts collective, she co-runs the All Goods Gallery, a non-profit space for arts, established a year ago.

Janet Lilo Viva
Artwork from Janet’s ‘Laptop series 2019 (black & silver edition)’ (2019). Photo / Babiche Martens.

Her next big project is organising The Whau Arts Festival, set to be this June. “I have always worked with community in the context of arts. There’s a balance: to do the little things, you do the big things,” she explains.

After the Christchurch attacks a little over a year ago, Janet decided to show her solidarity with the Avondale Islamic Centre by anonymously leaving an artwork on the fence inscribed ‘ISLOVE’, along with the hundreds of other tributes from other strangers.

Twelve months on her sign is the only message the centre has not taken down. “The community is our home,” says Janet. “It’s probably my most favourite work of 2019 in terms of what it means to me.”

Their house is a “work in progress” from a decorative point of view, mainly due to the fact they’ve only recently moved in together. “We haven’t been together for so long to ‘grow up’ a house. These things take time,” says Janet, showing me one of her favourite pieces — a milk bottle punctured by thousands of tiny holes, which she explains is the result of the dog’s teething period. “That’s quintessentially New Zealand.”

The walls are filled with pieces of deep sentimental value. Courtney’s pieces include a photograph taken by Ralph Brown of Coven, a collective of queer artists activating an arts space. Below that is a painting by Courtney’s step-grandmother Patricia Melhuish, of a beach scene in Napier.

Patricia Melhuish Viva
Painting by Courtney’s step-grandmother Patricia Melhuish. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Janet’s recurring use of bananas as iconography — think of her 6m-high light poles on the Karangahape Rd overbridge in 2017 — began with her original work, Banana (2012), which now sits on the living room wall behind the sofa.

She explains her use of bananas was originally inspired by her late Samoan grandmother, who used to hand out bananas to her and her cousins when they were children.

For the Viva shoot to accompany this story Janet has set up a temporary installation of corflute laptops — emblazoned with MAKE WRONG RIGHT NOW — in the backyard. It’s an edit from her work Man in the Mirror that was part of the 2019 Honolulu Biennial, where she represented New Zealand. “I quite like using things that have a local or global context,” she says.

Above the mantle in the living room is a painting by Courtney’s cousin Danielle Meredith — appropriated from an early childhood photo, which her grandfather still carries in his wallet — that holds a special place in Courtney’s heart.

“It’s a little portal to a moment in time when you were young and everything was perfect and you hadn’t experienced anything horrible yet.”

Courtney Sina Meredith

As a child growing up in Glen Innes, Courtney Sina Meredith developed a deep love for her grandmother who she fondly remembers as an incredibly kind and empathetic soul; she remembers her working tirelessly in a denim factory for much of her life, having immigrated from Samoa at the age of 17.

Danielle Meredith Viva
A painting by Courtney’s cousin Danielle Meredith of them as children hangs in the lounge. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Despite her grandmother’s death just a couple of years after the photo was taken, the legacy of her hard work and passion is what inspires Courtney every day. “She encouraged me from a young age to speak my mind and have a voice,” she says.

“From her challenges and her journey, to having a grandchild who’s now opening this beautiful big space [Tautai]; the journey for me to be able to do these things began a couple of generations back.”


Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust was set to reopen on March 26, with Moana Legacy, an exhibition curated by Cora-Allan Wickliffe. It has now been postponed due to Covid-19. Check Tautai.org for updates.


Written by Andrew Glenn for VIVA (source)
Published in print on Wednesday March 25, 2020

For further information please email us
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Postcards Unlocked 2020

Postcards Unlocked

Digital postcards from Pasifika artists across Aotearoa and beyond

Postcards Unlocked is a digital activation featuring 40 ARTISTS OVER 40 DAYS! A platform for a diverse range of Moana creatives to stay creative and stay connected.

Taking place via Tautai’s social media platforms, each day we aim to share a snapshot into the creative process and inspiration from our treasured community. Including visual arts, music, sculpture, dance, design, poetry, prose, performing arts, film and fashion through to emerging art forms.

This initiative encourages meaningful connections through the digital moana to uplift each other during the lockdown period.

If you’re an artist and would like to be involved, please email us. Successful applications will be given some Koha for their contribution.

The deadline for submissions has closed.

Tautai Lei
Stay creative. Stay connected.

Follow us as we navigate the digital moana together:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

The Entire Postcards Collection

For further information please email us.
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

About Tautai

About Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust

Over the past 30 years we have grown to become Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation with a multidisciplinary focus.

Open Mon–Fri 10–4pm
About us in regards to Covid-19 – The gallery is currently closed.

Tautai Lei 2020
Tautai team weaves the iconic ribbon lei, 2019

Welcome to Tautai, Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation.

About Tautai – Located in Tamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand – Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust is a charitable trust dedicated to championing Pacific arts and artists. Tautai was formed in the 1980s when leading Samoan artist Fatu Feu’u and his peers came together with a shared aspiration to support and promote Pacific visual artists.

In the years since, we has grown to become Aotearoa’s premiere Pacific arts organisation with a multidisciplinary focus. We bring artists and the wider Tautai aiga together through a range of events and activities locally and globally.

“Great art feeds a family for generations.”

Tautai Founding Patron, Fatu Feu’u
Founding Patron Fatu Feu’u speaks about the growth of the Pacific arts sector. 

Proudly supported by Creative New Zealand, Foundation North and Fetu Ta‘i Patrons, Tautai is able to provide unique opportunities for the Oceanic arts community. Situated in the heart of Auckland’s CBD on Karangahape Road, Tautai’s newly expanded premises now includes a gallery space dedicated to showcasing the works of contemporary Pacific creatives all year round. In addition, Tautai’s full programme of activities and events include live-streamed artist talks and performances, a brand-new international strategy, workshops, internships and partnership initiatives that encourage growth in the sector.

“Tautai began with a vision to create belonging and community for Pacific artists. Fast forward to 2020 and Tautai Gallery is the fulfilment of this enduring ambition.”

Tautai Director, Courtney Sina Meredith

Tautai draws on the Samoan word for navigator and illustrates the organisation’s commitment to guiding moana arts in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tautai’s Board of Trustees is chaired by leading Pacific artist Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāi Tahu, Sāmoa), she is supported in her role by fellow Trustees: Brenda Railey (Secretary), John Gandy and Stephen Tamatoa Cairns.

“Tautai is a place, a people and a purpose.” – Director, Courtney Sina Meredith 

For further information please email us.
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

Tautai Online
Contact Us | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Twitter | Youtube | LinkedIn | Pre-2020 Web Archive

Director Founder Tautai 2020
Courtney Sina Meredith with Founding Patron Fatu Feu’u at First Fridays October, 2019.

Tautai HQ

Afio mai to the new Tautai HQ

A fresh beacon of Pasifika creativity in Auckland’s art district

Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Auckland, Aotearoa

Tautai’s gallery is currently closed due to Covid-19.

With major funding secured from Creative New Zealand, the new Tautai headquarters places them alongside other key organisations such as Te Papa and Auckland Art Gallery as a platform for amplifying Pacific creativity.

When Tautai HQ reopens, it will be to a beautiful expanded space of over 500 square metres, with a myriad of new initiatives planned for the coming year. Tautai’s Director Courtney Sina Meredith says the extra space, which includes a dedicated gallery, will enable Tautai to expand on its current programmes and activities from a central location.

“We are setting up a hub in the city for Oceanic creatives where they can come and talk about their work, we have a huge gallery space for art, music, exhibitions, readings, film, performance – you name it, we can do it all here”

Courtney Sina Meredith.

The key contributing factors that make up Tautai is the work we do within education and institutional facilities, with artists, industry and our fundraising abilities. With this new expansion comes greater opportunity in all these areas.

Kiribati Association Tautai
West Auckland Kiribati Association

Artist support
If you are an artist interested in becoming part of Tautai’s creative community please follow our facebook page, which is regularly updated with new opportunities.

Tautai Oceania Internship Programme
Tautai’s treasured internship programme, now in its seventh year, is currently paused due to COVID-19.
If you are interested in becoming part of our internship programme in future either as a host organisation or an intern, please contact us via email. Check out our coverage on our 2019 internship programmes.

Fundraising
Tautai is a Toi Tōtara Haemata investment client, our main source of funding comes from Creative New Zealand. We also receive generous support from Foundation North and our Fetu Ta’i patrons. Tautai  work with additional networks to further strengthen the creative Pacific community. In 2020 we plan  to expand even further, connecting in with aligned Oceanic arts organisations and Pacific media to profile and uplift our arts aiga.  

Tautai Gallery
Open Mon–Fri 10–4pm | Gallery currently closed due to Covid-19
Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland.
PO Box 68 339, Wellesley Street West.

“This is a new chapter for Tautai, a historical moment in which we are honouring our heritage and moving forward together”

Courtney Sina Meredith
Director Founder Tautai 2020
Director Courtney Sina Meredith with Founding Patron Fatu Feu’u at First Fridays October, 2019

For further information please email us.
Tautai.org #tautai4lyfe

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