Posts from the 𔃲 GIRLS 1 CONFERENCE’ category

Palatavake Flag (2013) by Benjamin Work

Benjamin Work

Title: Palatavake Flag
Date: 2013
Medium: Acrylic on Board
Dimensions: 790x1190mm

Artist Statement

On Captain Cook’s third voyage to the Kingdom of Tonga, he was gifted by the then ruling king, the Tui Tonga, the royal headdress, the Palatavake, decorated with prized red parrot feathers. The motif of the Tui Tonga then went on to be engraved into history by Tufunga Akau (master carver of war clubs).

Discovered in the thesis of Dr Andrew Mills, the motif is central in this weathered wooden flag – a comment on nationhood, kingship and Tongan society.


Benjamin Work is a South Auckland-based visual artist of Tongan heritage. With a strong foundation in aerosol painting and graffiti, Work is a core member of the Auckland art collective, TMD. He has worked on diverse projects including large scale public mural commissions, limited edition wine boxes and postage stamps, and recently, his practice has also expanded to photography and performance. Work travels to Tonga frequently and is an active member of the Auckland-based Tongan art collective, No’o Fakataha. He maintains a strong interest in ngatu (Tongan bark cloth) making, design and motifs.

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Unsettled Earth Pylon City (2006) by Ema Tavola

Ema Tavola

Title: Unsettled Earth Pylon City
Date: 2006
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Dimensions: 865x1200mm

Artist Statement

Pylon gazing in Otara, after the rain.
Missing home.


Ema Tavola is a South Auckland-based visual artist, writer and curator of Fijian / New Zealand Pākehā ancestry. Having established her art practice at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific (Suva, Fiji), Tavola went on to complete a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of Auckland. She has exhibited in group shows in Auckland, Suva and Hawai’i and presented her first solo exhibition, BLOOD + BONE at the House of Taonga showroom in Auckland in 2009. In a curatorial capacity, Tavola has delivered numerous exhibitions at Fresh Gallery Otara, in addition to collaborative projects and exhibitions for ARTSPACE, Auckland Art Gallery, Mangere Arts Centre, Papakura Art Gallery and Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts.

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Peter + William (2012) by Tanu Gago

Tanu Gago

Title: Peter + William
Date: 2012
Edition: Artist Proof
Series: Avanoa O Tama
Medium: Photographic Print on Archival Crystal Matte
Dimensions: 841x594mm

Artist Statement

As a Pacific Gay Male I have struggled over time to identify a clear distinction of Pacific masculinity I feel comfortable relating to. Searching for a cohesive sense of self and a recognizable sense of presence within the world we occupy, has lead me to this point in my artistic journey.

The Avanoa O Tama series presents a visual narrative that observes, critiques and articulates Pacific male identity in all its forms and with all its complexity, looking at the performance of our own unique perception of what it means to be a Pacific Male in the 21st century.


Born in Samoa and raised in Manukau City, Tanu Gago belongs to a large family with a diverse cultural background. Gago draws on his unique perspective and life in South Auckland to make art that directly engages with urban social issues including the fluid nature of ethnic and gender identities. Gago held his first solo exhibition, YOU LOVE MY FRESH at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in 2010 and later developed his first photographic series, Jerry the Fa’afafine (In The Manner of a Samoan Man) for Mana Takatāpui: Taera Tāne curated by Reuben Friend for City Gallery Wellington in 2011. His follow-up series, Avanoa O Tama was developed for a solo exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara in South Auckland and went on to be shown as part of Home AKL at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in 2012. Gago’s work features in private and public collections including Auckland Council, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and University of Auckland. He holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts majoring in Directing for Film & Television from Unitec.

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Otara At Night by Rebecca Ann Hobbs

Rebecca Ann Hobbs

Title: Otara at Night
Date: 2011
Edition: 2/10
Series: From a series of video works shot in South Auckland spaces, influenced by dance.
Medium: Lightjet Print
Dimensions: 330x250mm

Artist Statement

Occupying the Fairmall stage, in Otara, late at night. Otara at Night is part of a series of video works shot in South Auckland spaces, influenced by dance. Dancehall refers to a genre of music that originates from Jamaica, but it is also a term that indicates an entire culture in which music, dance, fashion and community collide. For example the more flamboyant and dexterous a dancehall queen’s performance the more she is able to represent her hood at a “Sound Clash”[1] event. Social and political change is the platform from which dancehall culture evolved; a change in politics from Manley’s PNP to Seaga’s JLP created shifts in the local economic structure of Jamaica. This movement allowed people to start advancing out of the confines of their previously prescribed socioeconomic status. Again the aforementioned dancehall queen can maintain her own beauty business during the week and perform at the “Sound Clash” on the weekend, dressed in the full dancehall regalia that her small business finances. In this moving image work we watch a South Auckland queen take Otara as her stage to perform her nocturnal dance. This video work is intended as a celebration of dancehall and the reinterpretation of culture through site.

Video by: Rebecca Ann Hobbs
Dancer: Amelia Lynch
With Help From: Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake, Graeme Marshall and Ema Tavola.

[1] Sound clash – a musical competition where crew members from opposing dancehall sound systems pit their skills against each other.


Australian born Rebecca Ann Hobbs is a contemporary fine art practitioner and currently academic staff at the Manukau Institute of Technology in Otara, Auckland. Working with new media to create video and still images that address issues around class, gender and race. Hobbs has been selected to participate in many international exhibitions at notable institutes such as; the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Germany, the Centre Pompidou in France and the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia. In 2002 Hobbs received the Australian Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, allowing her to undertake tertiary education at the California Institute of the Arts, where she completed a Masters in Fine Arts in 2005.

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Media Release
8 July 2013

South Auckland Arts Leaders’ Auction Art To Further International Dialogue

An art auction in K Road’s Te Karanga Gallery this month presents a unique opportunity to purchase works by twelve of New Zealand’s most exciting contemporary artists, all with a strong South Auckland connection.

The auction is taking place in aid of the #2girls1conference campaign being led by leading South Auckland artists and educators Leilani Kake and Ema Tavola to support their travel to the Pacific Arts Association 11th International Symposium in Vancouver, Canada next month.

Kake and Tavola are returning to North America with their ‘Real Talk’ arts agenda after a successful lecture tour to a series of California and Hawaii academic and arts institutions in 2009.

Since then, Kake has exhibited her works in galleries including City Gallery Wellington and Henderson’s Corban Estate Art Centre and has been a featured artist in the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival. Tavola has guided the highly regarded Fresh Gallery Otara, which she established for Manukau City Council in 2006, to its sixth anniversary and 70th exhibition and was an associate curator of Auckland Art Gallery’s first major exhibition of contemporary Pacific art, 2012’s HOME AKL.

Artists whose works feature in the auction include Tanu Gago, Rebecca Ann Hobbs, Martin Langdon, Molly Rangiwai McHale, Luisa Tora and Czarina Wilson. Their work, all with a significant link to the dynamic South Auckland contemporary arts scene, can be found in public and private collections both nationally and internationally.

With reserve on each lot set at $200 and works ranging from framed video stills, unframed photographic prints, painting, lithograph and digital prints to Czarina Wilson’s impressive one-off garment, “Maori Minx” made entirely out of a repurposed mink blanket and shown at the 2011 Cult Couture Fashion Awards, there will be some very exciting purchases to be made on the night.

Ten limited edition ‘Real Talk’ art prints by Tepora Malo will also be auctioned.

The #2girls1conference art auction is supported by K FM, Te Karanga Gallery.

Auction details:

When: Thursday 25 July, 6 – 8pm
Where: Te Karanga Gallery, 208 Karangahape Road, Central Auckland

Works for auction include:

More information:

Leilani Kake and I had a stall at the GROUNDED Festival of Sustainable Arts pop-up market last weekend, hosted by Manukau Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Creative Arts in Otara, South Auckland.

The #2girls1conference fundraising campaign t-shirt is designed by senior student, Tepora Malo, currently studying to complete a Bachelor of Creative Arts. Tepora undertook an internship with Leilani and I on the #2girls1conference campaign, overseeing the process of crowdfunding, social media marketing and leading the design and hand-printing of the limited edition t-shirt.

Tepora’s design employed a complex printing process that presented a fairly massive learning curve for all involved! The outcome is gorgeous and represents multiple hours of trial and error, laughs, sweat and tears!

We produced a limited range of 70 t-shirts and 20 canvas tote bags – both are selling fast; sales enquiries can be directed to Ema using the Contact page here.

The PIMPI fans are seasonally misguided, but on sale for NZ$60.

Images courtesy of MIT Faculty of Creative Arts.

Leilani Kake and my fundraising efforts to get to the Pacific Arts Association International Symposium in August are gaining real momentum!

A 25-day campaign on the New Zealand crowdfunding website, PledgeMe was an enormous success – we were overwhelmed with the support from our communities and networks on and offline. This initial fundraising effort attracted over $4000 of support which covers the bulk of our return airfares to Canada! A HUGE Thank You to everyone who pledged, shared, liked and retweeted to support our cause.

Part of our fundraising effort has been the design and production of a limited edition art t-shirt which we were able to hand-print using the excellent facilities at Manukau Institute of Technology. Tepora Malo, a third year student studying at the Faculty of Creative Arts worked as our intern on the project – we all learned a lot about the four color printing process and talked for long hours about art making and money making. Otara artist, activist and recent graduate, Amiria Puia-Taylor was our first choice to model the t-shirt for us. Her position on community awareness and artistic empowerment is particularly refreshing and she definitely represents the concept of REAL TALK! We also benefited from the very promising expertise of first year student, Sean Atavenitia who created our promotional photography. The whole initiative has been a really rewarding, Made in South Auckland experience!

The limited edition #2girls1conference art t-shirt is on sale now for $50!

We also have a limited amount of canvas shoulder bags for $30 and $15 repurposed jumbo tote bags from the slightly imperfect printed t-shirts!

Come find us at the GROUNDED Festival of Sustainable Arts Pop-Up Market from 10am – 5pm on Saturday 29 June, 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara, South Auckland, or click here to submit a sales enquiry.

We’re blown away with the support for the #2girls1conference campaign currently running on PledgeMe!

Every dollar pledged is helping Leilani Kake and I with travel and participation costs for the 11th International Symposium of the Pacific Arts Association in Vancouver this coming August! We’re less than $500 away from hitting our crowdfunding target with 12 days still to go. We’re hoping the #2girls1conference campaign (including crowdfunding, art t-shirt and auction) will generate a minimum of $6000 in total, so every dollar we make on PledgeMe effectively takes a little bit of pressure off our other fundraising initiatives.

We’ve had a great week generating awareness for what we’re doing; on Tuesday, Adrian Evans‘ piece in the Manukau Courier was published. We were reminiscing about our 2009 lecture tour to California and smiling about how many times we refresh the browser permanently open on PledgeMe!

On Wednesday we joined Yolande Ah Chong, the excellent and thoroughly conscious and informed host of Radio531pi‘s Breakfast with Lande show to discuss art making, Pacific audiences, leadership and crowdfunding. It was an awesome opportunity to really thrash out some of the principles and beliefs we have about why Pacific art and South Auckland are important.

The #2girls1conference T-shirt is getting lovingly hand-printed next week using Manukau Institute of Technology’s excellent print studio facilities at the Faculty of Creative Arts. Tepora Malo, a third year student completing the Bachelor of Creative Arts programme, has been an excellent collaborator and intern on this project. We’re excited to be working under her leadership in the printing process.

And we’re absolutely humbled by the generosity of our artist friends who have committed works for our auction! We have some AMAZING pieces that have been part of recent South Auckland and Pacific Art History! A stunning large scale unframed photograph by Tanu Gago, part of his Avanoa o Tama (2012) series and a beautiful suite of video stills from Rebecca Ann Hobbs’ work, Otara at Night. Painters Margaret Aull and Nigel Borell have also donated works and the invitation to make or donate works for the cause also inspired this beautiful collaboration between Molly Rangiwai McHale and Luisa Tora!

Every dollar raised in the #2girls1conference campaign is making us feel more and more excited and empowered knowing that our papers at the Pacific Arts Association in August are supported with massive love and investment from our networks!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

To keep up to date on #2girls1conference campaign and our journey to the PAA, connect on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe to for email updates!

"Real Talk" by Tepora Malo

This is the design Leilani Kake and I have helped to develop with our excellent MIT Faculty of Creative Arts intern, Tepora Malo. Created at the Otara-based arts school, this design will be lovingly hand-printed by a team of volunteers using the Faculty’s commercial screen-printing facilities. Our aim is to produce a range of tote bags and t-shirts to support the #2girls1conference fundraising efforts to get Leilani and I to the 11th International Symposium of the Pacific Arts Association (PAA) in Canada this August.

Tepora is in the final year of her Bachelor of Creative Arts and working on the #2girls1conference fundraising campaign as part of a professional practice paper. We love her floral ‘island print’ mash-ups with leopard, zebra, text and cultural iconography and were keen to collaborate on a customised design for the campaign.

From our hashtags and conversations, stories and scribbles, Tepora came up with a design that we love a lot. Zebras, ‘island print’ and camouflage have been recurring themes in my art practice and Leilani has been planning a work using the idea of disruptive coloration for the past few years. Tepora was drawn to the term, REAL TALK, and that is exactly what we intend to take to the PAA!

Leilani and I will also have a stall at the GROUNDED: Festival of Sustainable Arts pop-up art market on Saturday 29 June at MIT Faculty of Creative Arts, 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara, South Auckland from 10am – 5pm. We’ll be selling t-shirts, totes and hand-made bits and pieces

Leilani Kake and I are raising funds to travel and participate in the 11th International Symposium of the Pacific Arts Association in Vancouver, Canada in August.

Our PledgeMe campaign is now LIVE and open until Thursday 20 June.

We have to raise our target of NZ$2500 in order for our campaign to be successful, so every dollar counts!

We have a range of rewards for donations of $20, $50 and $250:

  • $20 Donation // A SOUTH publication and Thank You card (40 available)

    Receive a copy of SOUTH publication (Issue 2), a 48-page full-colour publication about South Auckland arts and culture co-edited by Ema Tavola. This issue features a profile on Leilani Kake as well as writing from Fear Brampton, Reuben Friend, Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai, Ngahiraka Mason and Anna-Marie White. ALSO receive a hand-made thank you card from Ema and Leilani.

  • $50 Donation // A 2 GIRLS 1 CONFERENCE T-shirt (40 available)

    Our limited edition fundraising t-shirt has been created in collaboration with Mangere-based emerging artist, Tepora Malo! It’s a bold statement t-shirt that supports the cause AND an exciting young artist who is definitely one to watch!

  • $250 Donation // A customised guest lecture or workshop on Pacific Arts and Audiences (4 available)

    Ema Tavola and Leilani Kake will deliver a guest lecture, presentation or workshop on Pacific art and artists and community engagement in South Auckland. Talks can be tailored for audiences ranging from intermediate age children, secondary or tertiary students to professionals or community groups. Talks can be delivered within the Auckland region.


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