Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

We sat on a Fijian mat, beneath a Tongan barkcloth, opposite a Cook Islands Tīvaevae. I invited three respected peers, friends and colleagues into a safe space to discuss the notion of safe space, within the arts and cultural sectors that we work within here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

#RealTalk: Safe Space / Best Practice was an event developed upon invitation from ARTSPACE, a Creative New Zealand funded contemporary art gallery in central Auckland. The event sat within the Amor Mundi conversation series, ours was the first event to take place outside of the Karangahape Road / central Auckland environment. In an opening address, outgoing curatorial Director Misal Adnan Yıldız spoke about the purpose of our discussion in a wider arts community context, referencing the exhibition, U Can’t Touch This, part of the 2015 PIMPI Winter Series, as an example of dislocating and relocating art and exhibition making.

The old Ōtāhuhu Library was the ideal location for this talanoa. Now used as a mixed use community facility, the building is currently leased to the Ōtāhuhu Māngere Youth Group who coordinate free programmes from vogue workshops to homework sessions and music classes. It is safe space embodied.

Photo by Ema Tavola

Photo by Ema Tavola

After a round of introductions from the audience, the conversation started with a knowing of the presence in the room. The panel talked story, sharing experiences and insights of safety and conflict, risk, passion and frustration. The discussion went from: advocating in museums and symposia around the world, to the simple gesture of inviting people to step inside at community galleries in South Auckland, to personal safety, and the real, physical, harmful behaviour which affects the lives of Pacific Rainbow communities every day.

Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai spoke of tā-vā theory of reality in relation to the conflict, chaos and harmony in the space between real talk / unreal talk, safe space and unsafe space, best practice and worst practice.

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Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

In conversation with the audience, the panel unpacked the meaning and mana of tears, of emotional intelligence and the problematic translation of emotional responsiveness to weakness and the problematic dichotomies of reason versus emotion, thinking versus feeling.

On tokenism and the risks of audience participation as superficial social experimentation, on the recognition of Tangata Whenua at the core of any discussion of diversity, and the safety provided by peers and those who stand side-by-side in times of conflict, and order.

There was so much value in this discussion. It was rich and insightful, poetic and emotional.

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Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

Many thanks to Caroline and the team at Ōtāhuhu Māngere Youth Group and to Christine O’Brien from Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board for helping to get things moving! Thank you to ARTSPACE and the vision, courage and appetite of Misal Adnan Yıldız, thank you for creating the platform for this kaupapa, I really hope the important work you have done will continue and evolve, and we all wish you so much good luck for the next chapter.

Photo by Ema Tavola

Photo by Ema Tavola

Thank you to the panel, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake and Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai – thank you for always bringing A-game, doing what you do, always advocating hard, representing our broader communities with passion, and changing the game in small ways every day.

Thank you to Raymond Sagapolutele for recording the event beautifully, as always, thank you for your generosity of presence. And thank you to Claudia Rakoia of Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, who nourished us heartily with a beautiful spread.

Vinaka vakalevu.

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#RealTalk- safe space best practice (5)

I was invited to create an event for Artspace’s AMOR MUNDI conversation series and took the opportunity to present a panel discussion with three of my peers who work hard every day creating platforms, channels and space for diverse indigenous communities to participate in the arts. I was able to also locate the event not in central Auckland, but closer to home in South Auckland.

#RealTalk: Safe Space / Best Practice seeks to unpack the notion of safe space within the context of curating and programming arts and culture in Aotearoa. The panel draw on experience working at the interface of institutions and communities, navigating the tectonic plates of cultural difference and the tricky terrain of social inclusion.

At the heart of Kolokesa U. Māhina-Tuai’s curatorial practice is her strong foundation of Tongan indigenous knowledge and practice. This gives her a unique understanding and appreciation of the depth and breadth of Moana Pacific arts when applied through their own respective lenses, and informs her relationships and collaborations with artists from different island nations. From museums and galleries to grassroots community organisations, and through exhibitions, events, commissioned works, conferences and publications, Kolokesa champions the importance of a holistic and cyclical perspective of Moana Pacific arts that is rooted in indigenous knowledges and practices. She currently works as Project Curator Pacific at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Leilani Kake (Ngā Puhi, Tainui, Manihiki, Rakahanga) is an artist and educator. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts from the Faculty of Creative Arts, Manukau Institute of Technology, and a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. Leilani’s arts practice is rooted within New Zealand and Cook Island Māori ideology, speaking to the universal human condition of identity, culture, tradition and change through deeply visceral personal stories. She currently works as Gallery Coordinator at Papakura Art Gallery, a community arts facility in South Auckland.

Tanu Gago is an artist, photographer, producer and queer activist currently working as the community engagement coordinator Pacific for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation working in HIV prevention. He is a founding member of the Love Life Fono Charitable Trust set up to drive community-led social development for Rainbow Pacific communities. Tanu is also the creative director of the FAFSWAG Arts Collective.

Our event is being held this Saturday 13 May from 2pm at the old Ōtāhuhu Library, a mixed use community facility located at 12-16 High Street.

 

The venue has been offered to us by the current tenants, Ōtāhuhu-Māngere Youth Group, who have worked hard to create a safe space for local young people. Post-event refreshments are provided by Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, site for the upcoming PIMPI Winter Series!

#RealTalk: Safe Space / Best Practice endeavours to be family friendly event, childrens’ activities will be provided and parents room facilities are available.

This event has been made possible with the support from Artspace, Ōtāhuhu Māngere Youth Group and Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery.

100% free, all welcome!

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Epeli Hau’ofa is still

alive and he’s healthy

without anything

afflicting his front

or his rear


His Oceanic imaginary

has expanded beyond

even his own expectations

and he would have invited

Between Wind & Water

to be exhibited at his Centre

and given you all a residency

so that the over one hundred

students enrolled in Jacki Leota’s

UU204 course this summer

could hear you all speak and

be provoked to ask you questions

and ask themselves questions

about what their ideal Pacific

looks like


(This is very important

because the majority of those

students are Indo-Fijian and

will be thinking about themselves

as Pacific for the first time

in their lives

and the majority of them

are studying business and

accounting and will be thinking

about how to make the Pacific

and the world a better place

for everyone

instead of just for themselves)


In my ideal Pacific

this exhibition and residency

would have been held in March

when our VUW students are back

and I could have encouraged

my PASI 101 students to focus

one of their assignments on it


But in my ideal Pacific

my Pacific Studies students

would be more like the

PNG Studies and Business Studies

students and graduates

I met at Divine Word University

In Madang, Papua New Guinea

last year

who get their degrees

not so they can get jobs

in air-conditioned offices

and drive air-conditioned cars

but so that they can walk barefoot

from village to village

finding out what people’s needs are

and helping them find alternatives

to mining, deforestation

and commercial over-fishing

in their region


In my ideal Pacific

Business Studies students

go on to do masters degrees in

Public Health like

the late Darlene Keju

from the Marshall Islands

and realize the crucial importance

of the art in empowering

young Pacific people to

have positive attitudes

towards their bodies

and their sexuality

and their environment

so they would be able to

live off their land

and the sea around them

and could participate in

the wider world’s economics

on their own terms


In my ideal Pacific

my ancestral island of Banaba

or Ocean Island in the central

Pacific would not have been

mined into a moonscape oblivion

by the British Phosphate Company


But if that never happened

New Zealand would not have

become quite such the land

of milk and honey that it did

and we all probably wouldn’t

be sitting here today

because I’d be surprised

if our sitting here today

was ever part of the dreaming

of the tangata whenua

who lived here prior to

the arrival of The Tory in 1839

or the iwi who even

preceded them


In my ideal Pacific

things wouldn’t be

perfect

but everyone would learn

deeply from their mistakes

like the sharks that WWF

has tracked diving to depths

of 1000 metres or more

on their journeys

around the Pacific


This text was included in the Between Wind and Water Summer Residency (2015) publication. It was Teresia Teaiwa’s contribution to the BWAW Futures Forum on Saturday 24 January, 2015.

Posted today, on the day we lost Teresia, because her words are gifts and my heart is heavy.

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Leilani Kake has made five digital prints for the experimental group show, The Perpetual Flux of Transitional Otherness currently on at Olly in Auckland’s Mt Eden. She explains some of the thinking around these works here…

On July 9th 1863, Governor George Grey issued a proclamation ordering all Māori living in the Manukau and areas closer to the Waikato district to recite the oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria. Any Māori who did not comply were forcibly removed and seen as colonial antagonists. Three days later on July 12th 1863, British Imperial troops, led by Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, crossed the Mangatawhiri River and into Kingitanga controlled lands. This was the vanguard of a government sanctioned armed attack and land grab in the guise of punitive justice. December 1863 saw the land confiscation law passed which deemed any tribal land where the owners had ‘engaged in open rebellion against Her Majesty’s authority’ to be confiscated (raupatu). In 2011, member of parliament Hone Harawira called for a change in the wording of the oath of allegiance asking for it to include or replace the reference to the Queen with the Treaty of Waitangi, believing it be more relevant to serve the people rather than the Queen.

Swallow series (2017) by Leilani Kake

My new experimental series titled Swallow reflects how, as a whole, the 1863 campaign of terror is evident in the historical and systemic discrimination that is still deeply entrenched in our government today. The symbolism of the mouth and moko kauae represents the Māori voice; my voice, re-telling New Zealand history to new audiences and questions whether or not to take the ‘prescribed medicine’ of the coloniser as this is still a bitter pill to swallow.


The Swallow series consists of five digital prints (pictured above) measuring 420x594mm. The works in the exhibition, The Perpetual Flux of Transitional Otherness are Artist Proofs from an edition of two. They are sold unframed and priced at NZ$300 each.

The exhibition is open at Olly, 537 Mount Eden Road, central Auckland, until 1 April 2017.

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The Perpetual Flux of Transitional Otherness presents 15 new works by Margaret Aull, Leilani Kake and Ema Tavola. The exhibition runs from 6 March – 1 April 2017 at Olly, 537 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland.

1. Poedua, Papua Merdeka
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
2. Swallow Orange (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
SOLD
SOLD
3. Black Sam
Mixed media on board
400x400mm
Margaret Aull
SOLD
4. Swallow Pink (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
A/P SOLD
2/2 available
5. Ika
Mixed media on board
300x300mm
Margaret Aull
$390
6. Poedua Addiction
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
7. Poedua for Gus (pronounced Goos)
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
8. Black Sam and his mates
Collage, acrylic ink on board
400x400mm
Margaret Aull
$390
9. Swallow Blue (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
A/P SOLD
2/2 available
10. Poedua, Galbraith Building
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
11. Kev
Mixed media on board
Margaret Aull
SOLD
12. Swallow Green (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
A/P SOLD
2/2 available
13. Poedua O.G
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
$390
14. Swallow Yellow (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
$300
15. KARE
Collage, acrylic ink on canvas
700x700mm
Margaret Aull

IMG_3676
$1,100

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The impressive and relatively new campus of Manukau Institute of Technology houses two stunning commissioned large scale Pacific artworks (below) which curator, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai notes, “The form and content of these two works are unique and cannot be found anywhere in Aotearoa NZ, the wider Moana Pacific or in the world. This is a result of the approach and process involved, the materials used, and the special collaboration of older artists and collectives practicing and innovating art forms from the homeland in Aotearoa, and younger Aotearoa born artists, whose practices are informed by influences and mediums they encounter living and growing up here. The basic intention of this approach was to do away with the problematic distinction of ‘traditional’ or ‘heritage’ and ‘contemporary’ artists and arts, when they are in reality coexistent and continuous in circular and inclusive ways.”

The work on the left (below) is called “Ngatu Tupenu Tā’uli'” (Black-marked cloth) and was produced as a collaboration between Benjamin Work and Fauniteni ‘o e Mo’ui, a central Auckland-based Tongan Women fine arts collective from the Dominion Road Tongan Methodist Church. The work on the right is called “Three Kete“; the design was created by Leilani Kake and produced with the knowledge and fine hands of the Cook Islands Mamas led by Master Tīvaevae artist Mary Ama and supported by Annabelle Wichman Hosking, Tukua Turia, Tutana Tuaeu, Mata Te Pai and the Pacifica Mamas of the Pacifica Arts Centre, West Auckland.

The Manukau Tertiary Centre is also currently hosting the small but perfectly formed, jam-packed Taku Tamaki Auckland Stories exhibition, developed by Auckland War Memorial Museum. It was a privilege to be an advisor on this project; it is the most comprehensive South Auckland 101 experience you can get and I take all visitors there as the first port of call. (I spoke at the opening and my speech is here)

I’m also super proud to have work that I’ve been part of on display in this building: six large scale photographic portraits made by Vinesh Kumaran and I at the ASB Polyfest in 2015 are on permanent display on the exterior facing wall of the theatre.

I spent four years studying at MIT completing my undergraduate degree, three semesters teaching there and many, many hours in and around the campuses in Ōtara and Manukau. I’m a big fan of the work the Institute has done to increase Pacific achievement in tertiary education, and this new campus is quietly becoming a hive of conscious Pacific art activity!

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South Auckland-based photographer Emily Mafile’o is currently crowdfunding to support the costs associated with staging an impressive large scale solo exhibition at Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku due to open next month. I’ve made a small donation and want to encourage everyone to consider supporting this great project. I got in touch with Emily to find out more…

Emily, I can’t believe we’ve known each other for 15 years! In that time we have both seen lots of change and growth… I’m still fighting for the cause but I’ve learned a lot along the way from the wars I waged in my fiery twenties! And you have consistently, and quietly, been documenting and producing series upon series of photographic work about the Tongan space, famili and cultural connectedness. Thinking back, it has been a real privilege to see your practice evolve. Have there been key events or shifts in your thinking that have inspired you to keep making? 

Malo ‘aupito. It has been a journey of ups and downs, but my love for documenting my people has kept me going. I believe a key event for me was when I finally became comfortable / secure with who I am, my cultural identity, and I have my photography to thank for that. It allowed me to find this space / va, place.

I also need to acknowledge my sister Vea. She is the person who has kept pushing me over the years, especially when I would question my practice or I didn’t think I had the right or ability to keep going.

It is important to me that we take responsibility in documenting our own culture, it is also important for me to keep fighting for photography in Contemporary Tongan Art.

On a more intimate thought and one that is a pure passion, the documentation of my people who are often not valued in being documented. My people behind the scenes or who are brushed under the fala. My people who choose to live outside of what it is considered to be the ‘norm’ in Tongan culture.

It’s the celebration of what it is to be a Tongan in 2017. The many different people that make up the Tongan culture.

I’m so excited to see the work in your upcoming exhibition, Tonga’s Strength-Hold Is Its Heart opening at Mangere Arts Centre next month. I worked with my Dad last year on an exhibition project that took me back to our village for the first time in 10 years and it was the most personal, most meaningful project I’ve ever produced. Like so many of your projects, I had the opportunity to work with my sister and involve our children and it really felt like my creative practice was playing a role in bringing the family together and creating an archive of our past, present, and future. What was it like working with your Dad on this project?

My Dad, Saia Mafile’o is someone in my life who I find interesting, frustrating, adore and at times totally crazy, but I love him dearly. Vea and I are extremely lucky with our famili and their support with our creative projects. My famili and Dad are all used to either Vea or I having a camera with us. This trip to Tonga with our father, which included all of my immediate siblings and our children was the first time in many years we had all stayed under one roof with him. It was extremely precious. It was also crazy as Vea was also filming her documentary Paper Run on Dad too. It was filled with lots of bittersweet moments for our famili.

It should also be pointed out that my Mother and my Step Dad Robert also go to great lengths to support us with our creative practices, we are extremely lucky.

A solo show is a lot of work – congratulations on harnessing the energy, inspiration and drive to take up the opportunity! We’ve talked about the sacrifices that artists often make to manifest their ideas, and I’ve seen you time and time again put in mad hours, invest so much personal resource and go above and beyond for your practice and those you’ve supported. How much has gone into this solo show?

Anything I work on consumes me. All my energy from the moment I decided to do the project goes into it. Writing up the project, the prep before going to Tonga, making the funds to get there and during our time in Tonga. Vea and I have always worked on several projects at a time when we are in Tonga, as it is a huge luxury, gift, opportunity and financial sacrifice to be there. So balancing out time amongst our projects and famili is extremely important. For me personally, it is also conserving my energy and making sure I use to the best of my ability due to my SLE. I have made / make personally, sacrifices over the years for my art practice in regards to how I live life, my poor son included.

The times I’ve seen Mangere Arts Centre filled with energy and life is when the community brings it; I know your exhibition will hold meaning and mana with so many local audiences here in South Auckland. What are your hopes for the show?

That it brings my Tongan people in the doors. That it makes my father, my famili and my people proud. That it shows an intimate form of contemporary Tongan photography, not the ‘normal’ documentation of an event. It is my father, my famili and my experiences at Toloa.

Thank you Emily, for your time and your work. This project holds so much meaning and mana and I want to encourage as many people as possible to consider donating to your crowdfunding campaign to support your printing costs!

Malo ‘aupito, ‘aupito Ema.

Donating is easy on the Boosted platform and every dollar counts! Check it out here…

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I’ve been given the opportunity to run a series of exhibitions at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Ōtāhuhu.

After this month’s successful Art Auction exhibition, the second exhibition is collection show, specifically, my own collection. It includes works that I own, that I’ve bought and been gifted, and works that have never been collected that live in limbo between showings.

In part, the work I’ve accumulated over the years gives me a lot of joy and I want to show it off and give it some air. But I’m also interested in what it represents as a snapshot of South Auckland art history. Each work is representative of a relationship, a show, a project that has happened in / because of / in honour of South Auckland.

More details coming soon.

In the meantime, check out works by Emory Douglas, Faafeu Kapeneta, Cerisse Palalagi, Sangeeta Singh, Dan Taulapapa McMullinGary Lee, Siliga David Setoga, Torika BolatagiciRaymond Sagapolutele, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Louise Stevenson, Antonio Filipo and Tanu Gago.

Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery is currently open from 7am – 3pm, Monday to Friday. It’s located at 507 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland.

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I volunteered to organise an art auction to help raise funds for my daughter Lanuola’s daycare centre, Le Malelega a le To’elau ECE, and it was beautiful and rewarding, and the funds raised blew our target out the water!

Fourteen friends and allies from my art world generously donated 23 works ranging from illustration, assemblage, photography and painting. The works were installed and shown for two weeks prior to auction night at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland. Auction Night attracted a full house of punters, who were treated to a special menu of tasty treats created by chef Claudia Rakoia and her team.

Staff from Le Malelega a le To’elau finished work and came straight over to the venue to help welcome, register, wrap artwork, process payments and serve guests – they looked beautiful and did an amazing job. Earlier in the month, they had worked with the children at the Centre to paint the bidding paddles which were used on the night.

Our MC, my dear friend Yolande Ah Chong, kept our crowd entertained and inspired; she added so much value, and I reflected throughout the night what a phenomenal woman she is!

It was incredibly rewarding to see so much of this beautiful work being purchased by local artists, members of the South Auckland community, parents and keen supporters from the Pacific arts and culture ecosystem here in Manukau!

It was a privilege to do this project in many ways, especially to develop a working relationship with Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, where I plan to produce some more exhibitions and interesting events over the coming months.

I’m super grateful to Konile Fusitua for his photography on the night – I’m a keen follower of this young creative! Check him out on Instagram here.

 

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Mothers Love (2016)
Mixed media assemblage, 304x609mm, stretched canvas

Joana Monolagi has been creating Fijian arts for about 20 years. She was born in the town of Ba, Viti Levu, Fiji, moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1978, and now lives in Pakuranga. Monolagi enjoys working with arts from her Fijian heritage such as masi (Fijian barkcloth) printing, creating Fijian costumes, teaching meke (dance) and telling Fijian stories. In 1990 she started to weave and learn to print masi. When Monolagi began experimenting with masi printing she drew on her memories of watching women in Fiji making and printing it. She taught herself how to create stencils for printing onto masi and enjoys making new stencils which she adds to her collection. Monolagi experiments with new materials available in Aotearoa New Zealand, combining the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. She values the importance of sharing the knowledge and skills that she has, which she does by running workshops for women’s groups in the Fijian community. Monolagi is the Fijian coordinator for the Fiji village at Auckland’s annual Pasifika Festival. She has held this role since 2001 and sees it as another way of showcasing Fijian culture and heritage through the arts.

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