Pacific and Oceanic peoples make up 16% of Auckland’s population – and that’s growing, rapidly. Our framework for thinking about what art is, and how it is made and shared is slowly starting to shift with that. – The Big Idea
Join us for an evening of inter-generational talanoa and performance.
Featuring Cora-Allan Wickliffe, Naawie Tutugoro, Luc Tutugoro and Diggy Dupé.
Hosted by Teokotai Paitai
Sneak a peak at our incredible line-up for the evening!
Teokotai Paitai (MC) Arts Pasifika Lover | @taimeans1
Ta’i is 3 cups Cook Islands, a tablespoon Samoan and a shot of fine Scotch. Ta’i is born, raised, schooled, and still living in Ponsonby where his family arrived in the early 1950s. Ta’i is situated within Arts Pasifika here in Aotearoa. His background is in Performing Arts and he has woven a fine mat that embodies working alongside and for, many of his favourite artists and arts practitioners, across most genres. Tai is 53 years old, 6ft of fabulous Dad body and is the A.G.E in savage
Cora-Allan Wickliffe Multi-disciplinary artist | @coraallan.wickliffe
Cora-Allan Wickliffe is a multidisciplinary artist of Māori and Niue descent, originally from Waitakere. In recent years her practice has focused on her efforts to revive the art form of Hiapo, prior to this she completed her Masters in Visual Art and Design in Performance from AUT (2013), also receiving a AUT Postgraduate Deans award for her research. Her work is a part of major collections including The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Wallace Arts Trust.
Naawie Tutugoro Multi-dsciplinary artist | @astonishing_coco_puff
Born to a Kanak father and Anglo-Argentinian/European mother, Naawie Tutugoro is a Tāmaki Makaurau-born multi-disciplinary artist. Her practice comprises 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.
Her father Luc Tutugoro is a Kanak artist and activist.
Diggy Dupé Artist | @diggydupe
Diggy Dupé has come a long way from the teenage days of making music with his cousin ReddxRozaay, using the most basic of tools that included a Motorola phone and singstar microphone. A finalist for Best Hip Hop Act at the 2019 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards for his 2018 EP Island Time, the talented rapper is set to release his full-length debut That’s Me, That’s Team on 28 August.
“There’s something about the work you’re creating that cannot be replicated in any other sector.”
– Courtney Sina Meredith, Tautai Director
Bachelor of Arts degrees, like all degrees, have an important part to play in our economy and society.
University of Auckland Arts graduates Courtney Sina Meredith (Tautai Art Gallery Director/Writer/Poet), Joshua Ling (Digital Marketing Executive, Paramount Pictures) and Lydia Hollister-Jones (Marketing Content Specialist, World Vision) tell us how they couldn’t have got their skills and careers with any other degree.
Find out more about where you can go with a BA here
The Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust has opened its first gallery space in central Auckland, dedicated to showcasing the works of contemporary Pacific creatives.
Founded in the 1980s by acclaimed Samoan-New Zealand artist Fatu Feu’u ONZM and a few of his peers, Tautai was born from a shared aspiration to support and promote Pacific visual artists. Since then, it’s had an important hand in promoting and nurturing the growing Pacific arts community in New Zealand, now further cemented with a dedicated space to showcase the important work being made.
With director Courtney Sina Meredith at the helm, Tautai has taken over the first-floor space previously occupied by Artspace on Karangahape Rd.
An award-winning poet, playwright and fiction writer herself, Sina Meredith described the new hub as a “beacon of aspiration for those who are coming into the arts,” with the name Tautai drawing on the Samoan word for navigator — an apt descriptor for a guiding presence in the art community.
The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Moana Legacy, showcases several varying examples of Pacific art, from photography installations to hiapo, heritage works, charcoal drawings, digital pieces, a mural and even woven hair baskets.
Curated by multi-disciplinary artist Cora-Allan Wickliffe, the exhibition was developed in partnership with Melbourne gallery Blak Dot Gallery and features artists working in both New Zealand and Australia.
“Moana legacy is an opportunity to engage with, not only contemporary art practices now, but what artists of different ages — different levels whether emerging, senior or experienced — what they’re feeling now, especially in this time we’re in,” said Wickliffe.
“We want our communities to respond; to feel like they can see themselves there on the walls.”
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.
After three decades in existence, Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust has launched its own gallery on Auckland’s Karangahape Road.
The first thing that hits you entering Tautai Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Moana Legacy, is the range of works on show. On one huge wall is a mural of black humanoid crocodiles on a pink background by neo-pop artist Ahsin Ahsin (Atiu, Aitutaki), while the wall opposite has an illustrated hiapo (Niuean tapa cloth) made using traditional methods by Cora-Allan Wickliffe (Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Alofi and Liku) and her sister Kelly Lafaiki.
Elsewhere, a specially constructed frame holds ghostly photographs by Talia Smith (Cook Islands, Samoan and New Zealand European) and these sit across hangings of tiny, intricate kete made by Gina Ropiha (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Kere, Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Rakau) from her own hair, while around a corner a dark corridor is filled by an installation of neon blue tubes created by Israel Randell (Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu).
Tautai founding patron Fatu Feu’u sees this gallery space as the eventual end point of work that he began over 30 years ago. In the 80s, he recalls Colin McCahon saying to him that the New Zealand art world was waiting for Pacific artists to make a serious contribution. The history of progress during the intervening years is evident all around you at Tautai.
Wickliffe’s work is an example of this. She speaks of the influence of legendary NZ Niuean artist John Pule and how their families both came from the same village in Niue. His work proved that the imagery of hiapo had a place in fine art and her work takes the logic one step further – his work was on canvas, while her hiapo are created using traditional materials and patterns. By bringing hiapo out of the museums and into a gallery space, Wickliffe pushes forward the argument for their place in the contemporary artistic conversation.
Wickliffe took this notion further in her introductory speech for the opening exhibition (which she curated). Pointing to one work, she told the audience it was an unfinished work dedicated to her grandfather who passed away last year. She then proceeded to “complete” the work by painting thick strokes of black paint over the face of the piece, erasing the illustrations and thereby evocatively expressing her loss, while the audience watched on in shocked silence.
Many of the artists on display in the opening exhibition also took part in Tautai’s groundbreaking show in Naarm/Melbourne last year, so the return to Auckland had a sense of homecoming. For Ahsin Ahsin, the trip was his first involvement with Tautai and he found it refreshing to connect with other artists from a Pacific background without any pressure to perform their culture in their art.
“I got to hang out with brown artists, which is quite rare for me. I’m based in Hamilton and there’s not many brown artists in the art community… It’s just about self-expression. I’m from the Pacific so that makes it Pacific art, but I do what I do.”
In the future, Ahsin hopes to collaborate with another artist who showed at both exhibitions, Rangituhia Hollis (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu), since they both also create digital work. Hollis’s advanced digital imagery had its own juxtapositions within the current exhibition: firstly with three charcoal/painted works he created to sit alongside them, but also in contrast with the videos created by Brisbane-born Fijian artist Mereani Qalovakawasa, which purposefully use the simplistic software of MS Paint to add a primacy to her work about life with a chronic illness (lupus).
Hollis was among four artists with Māori heritage in the show (making up half the participants), which reflects Tautai’s recognition of moana nui a kiwa – that all Pacific peoples derive from the same ocean. Hollis says he got a huge amount from being involved in the Tautai exhibition in Naarm/Melbourne, since it also involved trips to local galleries hosted by indigenous curators and opportunities to examine the Pasifika collection at the museums. He is equally impressed by the open, expansive layout of the new gallery:
“I think the utilisation of the space is amazing. I’ve seen it in other forms when it was Artspace and the Film Archive. Artspace had a lot of storage space but this seems to be space for people, not storage for archived items.”
Naawie Tutugoro (Kanak and Anglo-Argentinian/European) is one emerging artist involved in Moana Legacy who understands how far Tautai has come to get to this stage. Her father, Luke Tutugoro, was involved with Tautai from its inception and when she was a child he enlisted her to paint the garage of their Grey Lynn villa with nuclear-free messages as part of a Tautai-led campaign. She therefore appreciates the gravity of having her work on display on the opening night.
“It feels like tonight we are planting a tree that is going to be very sacred for the generations to come. I feel very lucky to be opening this space and have work that instigates that.”
– Naawie Tutugoro
The Moana Legacy exhibition is open until September 18.
A wise man once said, “great art feeds a family for generations”. That man is Fatu Feu’u ONZM, the founder of Tautai, New Zealand’s leading pacific arts organisation. The Tautai Pacific Arts Trust has now reopened in the city as a space where people can not only see art but can do art.
Written by Mark Amery for The Big Idea. 2 July 2020
Pacific and Oceanic peoples make up 16% of Auckland’s population – and that’s growing, rapidly. Our framework for thinking about what art is, and how it is made and shared is slowly starting to shift with that.
Welcome then is Te Taumata Toi-A-Iwi’s (Formerly Arts Regional Trust) release this week of an overview of research in communities on the arts of Moana Oceania in Tāmaki Makaurau, recognising that the arts are defined and practiced in different ways. Part of the aim is to help build a more cross-cultural approach.
”This is our call to action!” write authors Toluma‘anave Barbara Makuati-Afitu and Kolokesa U. Māhina-Tuai. “We hope this research creates the needed shift of the axis through a collective movement of disrupting the status quo… to ensure Indigenous voices are heard and perspectives are embedded in the hearts, minds and policies of our cultural, creative and arts sector.”
One space working hard to do this already is Tautai Contemporary Pacific Art Trust. As Director Courtney Sina Meredith introduces on YouTube here, in a significant new move Tautai is opening its first dedicated gallery space on Friday, a move that was due to happen the first day of lockdown in March.
This is an important move in a city that deserves to have the Pacific arts more visibly at its centre. It is saying, states Meredith “we don’t want to be just a satellite anymore, we don’t just want to be the partner working with big fish, we want to actually centre our narrative.” Meredith introduced Tautai’s history to RNZ’s Lynn Freeman, and told her that she is also developing the space as a community hub, so that the whole place “is a hot desk” where people can work and meet, not just see art.
The first exhibition, Moana Legacy developed from an existing partnership with Blak Dot Gallery in Naarm (Melbourne), featuring artists working in both Aotearoa and Australia. The new Tautai website is a dynamic first landing place.
Written by Mark Amery for The Big Idea. Published online 2 July 2020 as part of arts news bulletin (source)
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown announced today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was scheduled to launch Pacific Arts organisation Tautai’s new space in Auckland on Thursday 26 March.
That won’t happen, but the space is nevertheless a major step forward for the Pasifika arts community according to its director, Courtney Sina Meredith.
‘The establishment of a gallery specifically for contemporary Pacific artists was a dream of founding patron Fatu Feu’u and his peers when Tautai initially formed [in the 1980s]. He’s been in to see the space recently and the smile on his face said it all,’ she said.
‘This is a historic moment that marks the beginning of a new chapter for our artists and our community, but it’s also about coming full circle and honouring our founders,’ Meredith said.
She said the new Tautai would be primarily a place to share ideas and practices, but wouldn’t preclude Pasifika artists selling their work.
‘All events and activities will be free, and any purchases of work will take place directly between artists and interested buyers — Tautai will not take a commission,’ she said.
The name Tautai draws on the Samoan word for navigator, and the organisation has successfully found a way to secure six years of funding from government arts agency Creative New Zealand for their 500 square metre space on Auckland’s Karangahape Road. The building features a sculpture reminiscent of a spiky conch shell by Kiwi artist Guy Ngan, who identified as Pacific Chinese.
Curated by Cora-Allan Wickliffe, the space’s inaugural exhibition is entitled Moana Legacy and features works by Ahsin Ahsin, Gina Ropiha, Israel Randell, Mereani Qalovakawasa, Naawie Tutugoro, Rangituhia Hollis, Talia Smith, and a piece made collaboratively by Wickliffe and Kelly Lafaiki.
The exhibition continues until 5 June, though it is unlikely to receive many visitors in its first month. New Zealanders have been asked to stay at home for the next four weeks. – OCULA 23.03.2020
We look forward to seeing her talents flourish across the ocean!
In partnership with QAGOMA and Creative New Zealand, Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust is pleased to announce that Natasha Matila-Smith has been selected as the inaugural curator for the Creative New Zealand Pacific Curator Residency in Australia.
Natasha will work with QAGOMA’s Asian and Pacific Art team towards ‘The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10), developing an artistic project of Pacific Art in Aotearoa New Zealand that will be presented as part of APT10.
Over the past five years Matila-Smith has worked consistently across curatorial projects, writing and her creative practice to expand understandings of the complexity of contemporary Pacific life in Aotearoa. She has developed a reputation as one of Aoeteroa New Zealand’s most unique critical voices. Throughout her practice she has challenged stereotypes and confronted expectations, presenting exhibitions that acknowledge the broader contexts for Pacific artists and art.
Tautai’s Director, Courtney Sina Meredith said: ‘This is a ground-breaking moment for arts in Moana Oceania, we’re thrilled to be appointing Natasha Matila-Smith as the first Pacific curator to take up this opportunity. She has an important voice within our community and is someone who has worked with Tautai through the years, contributing to the shape of contemporary Pacific arts in Aotearoa and our global positioning. We look forward to working alongside our partners QAGOMA and Creative New Zealand towards APT10.’
QAGOMA Director, Chris Saines CMZ agreed, saying,: ‘This exciting new residency opportunity enhances the Gallery’s ongoing commitment to providing platforms for New Zealand based Pacific artists, writers and curators through the APT exhibition series.
Natasha’s contributions to conversations about what constitutes contemporary Pacific culture could not be more relevant to the APT. She will have much to contribute as we celebrate the series 10th iteration and enter the exhibitions third decade.’