I’ve been invited to curate a small-scale exhibition about the South Auckland entertainment company, Kila Kokonut Krew (KKK) at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku. The exhibition acknowledges the 10th anniversary of KKK and coincides with the company’s 2012 presentation of Taro King – the first play they produced in 2002.

This is the second exhibition I’ve curated about Kila Kokonut Krew; the first one, From The Pacific We Rise, took place at Fresh Gallery Otara in 2008. At the time, the company was multifaceted with the music (Nafanua Records), T-shirts (Phat Islanders), the theatre and KTV – Kila Kokonut Krew Television. Fresh Gallery Otara had no operational budget at this time; the exhibition came together with limited resources but successfully depicted the breadth, depth and energy of KKK.

Both KKK and I have come a long way since that first show. Kila Kokonut Krew is now recognised as New Zealand’s leading professional Pacific theatre company and receives regular support from Creative New Zealand. I went on to produce another 50 or so exhibitions in and around South Auckland. Mangere Arts Centre was opened in 2010 and its beautiful new theatre has become a home for KKK and an ideal space to celebrate this landmark anniversary.

The exhibition I’ve developed this year is based on a Pacific Island lounge. I’ve been inspired by an early photographic series by Māori / Niuean / Samoan visual artist, Janet Lilo called Aunty Tina’s House. I’ve also drawn on the experience of being an associate curator for Home AKL at Auckland Art Gallery, an exhibition that feels so far from my own sense of home.
I wanted to create a domestic environment in the Mangere Arts Centre foyer that would invite audiences to sit and relax… to feel at home. Seeing Kila Kokonut Krew’s humour and South Aucklandisms on mainstream stages in central Auckland has always reinforced my connections to the Southside. I wanted to create an exhibition that felt like KKK’s home – a space of comfort and reflection, Pacific cultural pride and markers of growth and development, people and achievement.

The Kila Kokonut Krew 10th Anniversary season including Taro King and the Celebrating 10 years of Kila Kokonut Krew exhibition take place at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku from 15-24 August 2012.