Re-opening its doors to the public since the Alert Level 4 lockdown, Tautai Pacific Arts Trust showcased their brand new gallery space last week.
Curated by Niuean/Māori artist Cora-Allan Wickliffe, the gallery opened with its inaugural arts exhibition, Moana Legacy. The exhibition features the works of Māori and Pasifika artists from Aotearoa and Australia.
On Friday July 3 we opened Tautai Gallery and made history together!
We welcomed the community into our gallery for the first time with inaugural opening exhibition Moana Legacy.
Check out the Opening Night photo gallery’s below!
Our new expanded space was officially opened by Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern alongside a host of speakers including Founding Patron Fatu Feu’u, Representatives from Ngati Whatua and Creative New Zealand and our Board. We also acknowledge the attendance of The Right Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
Curated by Cora-Allan Wickliffe, Moana Legacy marks a moment in the history of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust opening its first gallery space.
Tāmaki-born Cook Island artist Ahsin Ahsin (Aitu, Aitutaki) distills his imagination into fantastic creatures, sigils, graffiti-marking and gestures suspended in hyperspace. Influenced by sci-fi films, street art and pop culture of the 80s & 90s, Ahsin communicates the notions of neo-pop in his mural sized designs and multi-disciplinary practice.
Working between Kirikiriroa (Hamilton, Aotearoa) and Naarm (Melbourne, Australia), Ahsin has exhibited extensively throughout Aotearoa in international shows. Most recently, participating in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Centre Project – Te Whāinga: A Culture Lab on Civility at Silo Park as well as his exhibition ‘Neon Utopia’ at the Tauranga Art Gallery as part of the international show ‘Mega World’.
“My contribution to Moana Legacy is a mural of my crocodile characters, that I have been creating for a while now. They stemmed from an interest in ancient Greek/Roman vase paintings.”
Living and working on Gadigal & Darug land (Sydney, Australia), Talia Smith is a Taranaki-born artist, writer and curator who explores themes central to her Moana heritage through photographic and moving image mediums. As a second-generation Aotearoa-born indigenous woman, much of her practice explores the investigation of intangible space that those of similar backgrounds can exist and occupy.
Talia has been recognised for her curatorial practice by multiple Australian arts institutions including Firstdraft’s emerging curator for 2017 and Artbank’s emerging curator for 2018. As an artist she has exhibited widely in Australia and Aotearoa. In 2020, she is ‘the churchie’ curator for the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and has completed the AIR_Frankfurt Program,as curator-in-residence with Basis in Frankfurt, Germany.
Her contribution to Moana Legacy ‘Surfacing’ is a photographic installation based her Masters of Fine Arts research that explores the tenuous link between past, present and future. A stripped back frame adorned with dreamy images from her multiple homelands – her ancestral homeland of the Cook Islands, her current home in Sydney and her birth home Aotearoa.
“Exploring my lived experience of being Cook Island, Sāmoan and New Zealand European, this work looks to explore how the vā can be used as a space for those of a Moana heritage to create their identities outside of Western structures, a place where time is not linear and we are informed by ours and our ancestors experiences.”
Israel Randell is a multi-disciplinary
artist of Cook Island (Rarotonga) and Māori (Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu) descent,
who explores the notions of innovation as tradition through installations,
performances and spatial activations.
Israel’s work often activates dormant
spaces within urban landscapes as a way to expose communities to new ways of
thinking. Her practice is underpinned by cosmological theories of space and the
parallels found in her Pasifika and Māori culture.
Born in the Waikato region, Israel attended Hungry Creek Art School in Tāmaki Makaurau before moving to Toi Moana (Bay of Plenty) with her young family. Most recently, she was the Supreme Award winner at the 2020 Tauranga Art Gallery, Miles Art Awards.
“Randell works with light and its adversary – dark. Her sculptural light forms create a space where one can experience Matauranga Māori (knowledge)”
Gina Ropiha (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Kere, Ngāti
Raukawa/Ngāti Rakau) is a practising artist who hails from Heretaunga
(Hastings) and is based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia). Working primarily with
found and repurposed objects, Ropiha’s art reflects her experience addressing
the harsh realities and tests of living as an indigenous woman within colonised
lands, while trying to maintain a sense of Māoritanga (Māori culture) and
Rophia has exhibited internationally and was an Artist in Residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop 2017. She is active member of Motu Taim (formerly Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle) and has been a teacher and tutor in arts education for 19 years.
Featuring works with her actual hair in the exhibition, Gina has gently woven kete as a tribute to Wurundjeri artist Georgia MacGuire. The use of hair was a means of expressing the regret, sorrow and grief felt when witnessing Georgia’s story.
Born to a Kanak father and Anglo-Argentinian/European mother, Naawie Tutugoro is a Tāmaki Makaurau-born multi-disciplinary artist. Her practice comprises of site-specific works that illuminate negotiations of place and space specific to the urban Pasifika experience.
Tutugoro is currently living on Waiheke island, and has exhibited throughout Tāmaki Makaurau. Most recently, she collaborated with her friend and sculptor Jenny Takahasi Palmer on the exhibition ‘*subtleRESPECT’ at Window Gallery and is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts at ELAM.
“Hair discrimination and invisibility has been something I have become aware of growing up with afro hair.”
– Naawie Tutugoro, 2020
Growing up, especially as women, we are bombarded with contradicting desires and messages regarding beauty standards and self-acceptance. The idea of taming one’s hair is assimilation in practice, altering oneself to fit into the mould of what is considered acceptable.
“Bendy Rollers”, are a product used to alter the texture/style or hair speaking to ideas of cultural appropriation and fetishisation of black and brown bodies. By re-purposing the curlers as connections of a lei, Naawie dismantles the meanings attached to the material and in a decolonising act, the lei of hair curlers is transformed into an imagined umbilical cord to the spirit world.
“…Maybe in a few million years I’ll still be here to hear that star answer back. Somewhere still standing with you, still there above and roaring, well above, at the apex of all things, seeing our flaming sun dim above a dying world…”
– Excerpt from Across the Face of the Moon (2019)
Rangituhia Hollis (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) is an artist, writer and educator. His practice employs a range of collaborative strategies, often resulting in large-scale digital animation video works or interactive social engagement projects that explore Aotearoa’s postcolonial context. He often develops work using emerging or unconventional technologies. He has exhibited throughout Aotearoa in leading public museums and galleries.
Brisbane-born Fijian artist Mereani Qalovakawasa uses her multidisciplinary practice to shed light on living with a chronic illness. Sharing her personal experiences living with the autoimmune disease – lupus, she aims to reduce the fear and shame of being sick, particularly in Pasifika communities.
In 2018, Qalovakawasa participated in her first exhibition with New Wayfinders called ‘Ocean Stories From Home’ at Connection Art Space, this will be her first time exhibiting in Aotearoa.
Mereani’s illness and the experiences it brings to her life spark her use of online and computer-based media works. Filming on an old Big W camera, drawing using MS Paint and editing on MovieMaker, she depicts her own legacy through sharing the timeline of her health. These small clips give an intimate part of her journey through chemo and the battles she faces daily.
“Pacific people are often depicted as the image of vibrant health and beauty, physically strong and joyful, glowing brown skin, thick hair, skilled athletes and graceful dancers, laughing in the hot sun. My life isn’t bad, it’s just different from most people. I try to make life with a chronic illness as pleasant as I can. I find joy in making films to share a glimpse of my life.”
Originally from Waitakere, Cora-Allan Wickliffe (Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Alofi and Liku) is a multi-disciplinary artist and curator, who likes to examine and explore representations of Indigenous people through her work. Her sister Kelly Lafaiki, based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) is a student of hiapo and has helped to collaborate on the exhibition piece.
Exploring themes of ceremony and memory we are re-tracing using silhouetted objects filled with the language of hiapo to share stories of Niue that were passed down at the food table from our grandparents.
Stories of Niue, dances, mena kai and songs were shared throughout our childhood in comfortable and often uncomfortable moments of learning dances and how to cook traditional dishes.
“Our grandparents guided us with stern voices when we were young but grew softer as we all aged. Time spent together over meals and over beers became an environment of admiration and learning.”
Cora-Allan Wickliffe, 2019
These moments would tie them to becoming hiapo makers and this current work explores the moments of mourning they experienced with the passing of their Grandfather Vakaafi Lafaiki in April 2019.
As a contemporary practitioner of hiapo (Niuean barkcloth), Wickliffe has revived a sleeping artform. Her work is very important to her community and has been exhibited in Australia, Aotearoa, England and Niue. Currently, Wickliffe is the curator and exhibitions manager at Corbans Estate Arts Centre.
Moana Legacy is Tautai’s first exhibition in its new gallery space, the show has been developed from an existing partnership with Blak Dot Gallery, Naarm (Melbourne) featuring moana artists working in both Aotearoa and Australia. Continuing the conversation in Tautai’s new expanded space in the heart of Auckland, this show offers up assorted approaches to the idea of legacy.
As artists of the moana, one often looks back to move forward, contemplating the connections to ancestors and finding a place within a narrative that is as deep as the ocean itself. Our ancestors left behind stories of legend with impressive characters, some continue to shape our contemporary stories of today.
A legacy is the story of someone’s life, it is something that a person leaves behind to be remembered. Legacies are pathways that guide people with their own decision-making – inspiring them to build a legacy of their own.
With this in mind, the artists in this exhibition investigate notions of legacy and their link to the moana. Featuring photography, installation, video, sculpture, hiapo and painting, Moana Legacy is a celebration of our own legacies and what it means to be an artist of the Pacific
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.
Talanoa with Tautai’s Director and artist Etanah Fuimaono-Lalau
Courtney Sina Meredith:I heard about Etanah Lalau before I met her, she was described to me by someone I respected as ‘hard working and very talented’. Known for her efforts to ignite creative community engagement in her own backyard, I looked forward to our paths crossing. Serendipitously, and after working with Tautai in a range of capacities for a decade, I became the Creative New Zealand Pasifika Internships Project Manager for 2018, a programme I had long supported and admired – and who should be selected as an intern that year? Etanah Lalau.
was my joy and service to support the five Tautai interns for 2018 through what
proved to be a year of great metamorphosis for us all. Etanah moved to Tauranga
to work at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Her team quickly fell in love with her and
it didn’t take long until she had an army of friends and supporters singing her
praises. She made an impact, improved systems and processes, and developed
confidence in fundraising and event management.
It wasn’t all easy, there were a good deal of challenges that year and the sacred connection between Tuakana and Teina is a mutual exchange – I learned a lot from Etanah too during that period. Since then, she has stayed true to her creative path and found new ways to keep bringing light and alofa to everyone around her. Here we are full circle – connecting again, with Etanah sharing some lockdown musings.
CSM: Firstly, where are you in lockdown and who’s in your bubble? EL: I’m in Heretaunga (Upper Hutt) with my parents, sister, 3 brothers, niece and nephew.
CSM: How is the lockdown impacting your creative practice? EL: For the most part I enjoy this time being still, mentally, physically and spiritually. I can be an introvert sometimes, so this lockdown is really feeding that part in me.
lockdown I’ve struggled to prioritise my creative practice either because of
juggling work, business planning, wedding planning or other community
commitments. Now that I’m home every day, it felt like I was always on the go –
until now. With more time in my hands and less commuting, my inner creativity
has burst out and I’m loving every minute of it. ‘Stay Still’ is a work that
reflects me enjoying creating from home.
I’ve also been challenged too with lockdown limiting public physical interactions. For someone like me who loves to explore digital mediums in my art practice, I am one of the least people to share and post on social media. Now everyday all I want to do is connect with family and friends online. The lockdown has challenged me to break down my walls and share a little more online. I’m in the middle of curating a digital safe space for our rangatahi at Taita Clubhouse. I’m learning and growing at the same time. It’s hard work! My hat goes off to those who are savvy with social media all day, every day.
CSM: Going forward, what sort of change do you hope to see in the arts in Aotearoa? EL: I hope to see more embracement and curiosity for Pasifika art even in the most unusual of spaces. It can be uncomfortable spaces sometimes but who knows what doors will open or what bridges will give us access to more opportunities. In our homes, I hope to hear more Pasifika parents, grandparents and families supporting their children’s interest in the arts. They are either our first supporters or our first dream killers. It’s important to tap into our tupulaga and what they love to do early in life. The conversation starts at home. Also, I hope to see an increase of Pasifika artists and art practitioners in positions of leadership and influence.
CSM: What or who is inspiring you right now? EL: My family inspires me right now. Everyone’s trying something new at home whether it’s making art with me, baking, starting Zumba classes in the morning, dressing their Sunday best for church online in the sitting room – we find it difficult to do quirky/fun things on a daily norm so I applaud them for making a collective effort to keeping our bubble mentally and physically healthy.
the frontline, I’m inspired by our Prime Minister Jacinda and all of Aotearoa’s
essential workers. Feeling proud to have such leadership coming from her during
CSM: What do you miss most about life before lockdown? EL: I miss physically interacting with my community, from extended family members, friends, rangatahi at my workplace and local bakers. We definitely weren’t designed on earth to isolate that’s for sure! I miss nature as well, going on small hikes and walks. And not going to lie, I miss me a list of takeaways, but I won’t even start that convo ha!
CSM: Do you have any recommendations for good books, films, TV series, podcasts or quarantunes? EL: Lately, Jojo Rabbit by Taika has sat at the top for a while. Slew is my YouTube artist, or the Earth series are the go to’s for an easy watch.
CSM: Do you have any words of advice for other Pacific artists as to what’s sustained you during this period of global transformation? EL: Keep on making. Keep on sharing. Always speak from love, even amongst differences, pain and suffering.
Artists in general I believe are deep feelers of the world. They are bold because of the way they navigate life in the world through gut instincts and feelings. They know when the world is sick and when it’s healthy because of their gift in observing the world. Their works are always highlighted during and after major cultural shifts and no doubt societies will look to them right now for inspiration, healing and hope.
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.
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.
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 Opening Friday 3rd July, 4:30pm Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland. PO Box 68 339, Wellesley Street West.