Posts from the ‘PIMPI’ category

It’s a new dawn, it‘s a new day, it’s a new life for me… and I’m feeling good.

It’s on… 2018 is here. I saw in the new year under the Sky Tower, for the first time. The fireworks were spectacular. I ended the night with a motley crew of Fiji gang, South Auckland peeps and FAF SWAG family in Ōtara.

Today, suddenly, all my big talk about reverse migrating feels very real. I’ve been tackling my borderline hoarding problem head first this festive season, trying to be ruthless and rationale, and work out ways to migrate probably hundreds of kilos of [essential] books from one home to another.

I came to Aotearoa with the intention of doing an undergraduate degree and returning home to Suva to open a gallery. I think I spent most of my twenties telling people about that plan, but at some point I probably just stopped believing it was possible. But, three curatorial projects I’ve been involved with over the past two or so years have represented a shift in my practice and thinking and Fiji has come back into focus.

A change in circumstances in late 2017 became the final turning point, and the return home, the reverse migration, went from dream to plan and now, reality.

I found this Manukau Institute of Technology promo from 2007 in the boxes and boxes of ephemera that have accumulated from 16 years in Auckland. It was a good reminder.

Much to do and pack before the final departure, but it’s full steam ahead. I can’t wait…

Bring on the super moon! 

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Lanuola Mereia Aniseko

I’ve been on a break from blogging! My daughter Lanuola Mereia Aniseko was born on July 31 at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland.

Motherhood has been a trip; I have found new depths within my heart and mind, and see the world in a brand new light – it’s pretty awesome. Lanuola is Fijian-Pākehā-Samoan-Tongan, from the villages of Neiafu (Savai’i, Samoa), Nukunuku (Tongatapu, Tonga) and Dravuni (Kadavu, Fiji). She is named after her paternal grandmother, her maternal Great-Grandmother and maternal Aunty.

Whilst managing a new baby, there have been some projects slowly on the boil. I received a grant from Creative New Zealand to produce an exhibition and residency at Enjoy Public Art Gallery in Wellington next January; a selection of works from the third Polyfest Portrait Project are finally going to be installed at the new Manukau Campus of Manukau Institute of Technology, and plans are underway to deliver a paper at the 2015 Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival Symposium in Melbourne next April.

In this relative downtime, I’ve taken Lanuola to quite a few shows… she went to the opening of Poly-Typical curated by Tanu Gago for Fresh Gallery Otara, checked out Urban Drift curated by Ane Tonga for Papakura Art Gallery, the Light Show at Auckland Art Gallery (an EXCELLENT exhibition for babies!), Rosanna Raymond and Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi’s solo exhibitions at Mangere Arts Centre, the newly rebranded Te Uru – an incredible new arts facility in Titirangi, West Auckland. And also Tagimoucia Gallery, the Gallery of Suva Prison in Walu Bay, Suva, Fiji – works by Epeli Labalaba and Pauliasi Delaibatiki were so striking and memorable – an amazing little Gallery well worth the visit.

Watch this space for updates on Between Wind and Water, the first project I’ve attempted to produce in a different city, largely with one hand! #MumLife

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I was invited to speak at the 40th Pecha Kucha Night in Auckland last week, an acknowledgement of six years of collaboration with Pecha Kucha Night New Zealand founder, Luka Hinse.

In 2008, I was part of the first Pecha Kucha Night in South Auckland, presented as part of the Manukau Festival of Arts. I went on to curate and contribute to four more excellent Southside events at Metro Theatre, Mangere Arts Centre and a very special outdoor event in the Otara Community Courtyard in 2011. I’ve loved being involved with this inspiring event format (20 images x 20 seconds), Luka’s vision and his deep respect for South Auckland.

My presentation last week was entitled, Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies. I wanted to speak about some current projects and the idea of community. Here’s how it went down…

01The title of my presentation is a reference to a line in a Tupac song… Real eyes, realize, real lies. This is a self portrait I did on one of the days that I listened to Tupac all day. When I realised that none of my friends appreciated Tupac the way I did growing up, I realised I needed new friends. His political and social commentary has influenced me for almost 20 years.

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I used manage a community art gallery in South Auckland called Fresh Gallery Otara. Otara is a community I’ve lived in and around for the past 12 years; it’s a home away from home, a piece of the Pacific once removed. This was one of my favourite gatherings welcoming Emory Douglas of the Black Panther movement, to South Auckland in 2009. He returned last year to exhibit at the Gallery, but Fresh now is not what is used to be.

03I’m part of an collective called Oceania Interrupted, which was established by a very dynamic and passionate primary school teacher called Leilani Salesa. She initially called together Māori and Pacific women to participate in an artistic intervention to raise awareness for the plight of West Papua.

In a performance called, “Rise of the Morning Star” the West Papuan flag was raised 15 times at traffic intersections on Auckland’s Queen Street on West Papuan Independence Day, December 1st.

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The number 15 is symbolic in reference to the high profile case of political prisoner of Filep Karma, who was sentenced to 15 in jail for raising the West Papuan flag. The plan became to do 15 interventions or Actions in and around Auckland and South Auckland to raise awareness and create discussion around West Papua, freedom and what can be done as New Zealanders.

Action 2 took place at the Otara Market in December 2013.

05 Auckland’s Pasifika Festival was an ideal space to create visibility for the plight of Pacific people using Pacific bodies. This was Action 3 entitled, “Free Pasifika – Free West Papua”. 14 women with bare feet and bound hands, dressed in black lavalava adorned their faces with the Morning Star flag and marched silently from village to village.

06Oceania Interrupted draws women together in different capacities – there are those who put their bodies on the front line, to perform and confront; those who hand out fliers and talk to the staring public, and those who work quietly behind the scenes. A project to make an Oceania Interrupted T-shirt was undertaken by MIT Faculty of Creative Arts student, Katarina Katoa.

???????????????????????????????With support from the Faculty’s print department, the t-shirt was designed and produced in Otara with funds committed by other women in the collective. The sale of Katarina’s T-shirts support Oceania Interrupted’s future actions and can be purchased from OceaniaInterrupted.com

This project was made possible with the excellent support of Steve Lovett, one of the most passionate and supportive lecturers I’ve had the privilege to learn from and work with.

08 In a shift from performance-based interventions, Action 4 took the form of a video that invited women to interview people in their lives about freedom, visibility of Pacific issues and West Papua. 10 women participated contributing in excess of 24 individual interviews. Woven together with footage of past actions, the video was launched at a gathering on World Press Freedom Day, May 3rd at Fresh Gallery Otara.

09In essence, Oceania Interrupted strives to bring West Papua into the consciousness of the communities that surround us as Māori and Pacific women in Aotearoa. Our freedom is inextricably bound up with that of our Pacific West Papuan brothers and sisters.

Our next Action is on August 9, International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. Find us on Facebook for updates!

10I teach a paper at MIT Faculty of Creative Arts called Pacific Art Histories: An Eccentric View. It’s the evolution of a paper first developed for the Institute by Albert Refiti and the late, great Jim Vivieaere. Jim’s legacy plays heavy on my mind in this important role. I’m proud that Pacific art and culture has been discussed openly and thoroughly at MIT for the past 13 years.

???????????????????????????????My current class are almost midway through their degree studies; Pacific Art Histories is now a mandatory theory paper in year 2. The course covers topics including: misrepresentation and colonisation, gender and sexuality, curating, tattoo, online Pacific identities and global Pacific experience, hip hop and empowerment, diaspora problems and creative entrepreneurship.

12That last photo was taken with Fijian artist and activist, Luisa Tora; she produced a poster project for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia last month and discussed her curatorial process, personal position and politics with the class. Other speakers have included Samoan comic book artist and pro-wrestler Michel Mulipola and Tongan art historian and tattooist, Stan Lolohea.

13A photographer I’ve worked with for the past 8 years is Vinesh Kumaran. He works as a commercial photographer and is passionate about portraiture; I’ve loved seeing his personal work develop over the years. This series entitled, “Open All Hours” documents dairy owners across the Auckland region; it’s inspired by Vinesh’s own history of working in his family’s dairy in Mangere Bridge. This is one of my favourite works from the series.

14Tu’itupou Aniseko is my partner’s father; he’s a stoic man, a proud Tongan. Vinesh was working on a series documenting Pacific people in their home environments, and Tu’i accepted the request to be photographed. He stood motionless mostly and then, broke out into Tongan dance.

He said of this photo, that this is the one he would want at his funeral – this is the way he wanted people to remember him.

15Vinesh and I have collaborated on a portraiture series at the annual ASB Polyfest in South Auckland since 2009. We’ve set up a make-shift photography studio in a marquee and selected interesting and charismatic individuals to create series focused on style, hair and attitude. This year’s series, commissioned by MIT, was called “Portrait of a Generation”. This is John, he’s Tuvaluan, from Massey.

16What we aimed to do with the portraits we made at Polyfest was centralise the subject. That the image and the moment between the subject and the lens represents all that they are, their ancestors and their mana. There was no parallel agenda, no profit; I’m interested in the act of photography as empowerment… my people are not props.

17The last series we made at Polyfest created an opportunity for three Visual Arts students to assist on the project. They got insights into project management, client liaison and dynamics, photographing members of the public and explaining release forms. Their input in scouting for subjects created another dimension to this body of work that Vinesh and I really enjoyed.

18One of those students is Pati Solomona Tyrell, who featured in Samoan photographer, Tanu Gago’s 2012 series, “Avanoa o Tama”. Pati is Tanu’s partner in life and art. This work was first shown at Fresh Gallery Otara, went on to be shown at Auckland Art Gallery and later featured on the front cover of Art New Zealand. Tanu is another South Auckland artist I love and have had the privilege of working with.

19Tanu was awarded this year’s Auckland Festival of Photography Sacred Hill Annual Commission and his new series, “Tama’ita’i Pasifika Mao’i” opened last night at Silo 6. I love that Tanu talks about ‘creating a universe of Pacific identity’ from his unique position in South Auckland. Of this work, he explains the idea of capturing the exhaustion of performing culture for the dominant gaze.

20Of all the ideas of I’ve just mentioned concerning culture, community, caring, of action and accountability… this is an exhibition that sums it up for me. Kolose: The Art of Tuvalu Crochet is currently on at Mangere Arts Centre. In my humble opinion, it is the best exhibition that has ever been presented there; a massive congratulations to Fafine Niutao i Aotearoa and curators Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai and Marama Papau!

It is a Southside must see!

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I STAND WITH YOU is a project developed by Luisa Tora, a third year Visual Arts student at Manukau Institute of Technology Faculty of Creative Arts in Otara, South Auckland.

Marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), the project features 13 artworks produced as posters for display at both the Faculty of Creative Arts and in a pop-up exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara from 12-17 May, 2014.

I’m pleased to have partnered on this important project along with the Faculty of Creative Arts, Fresh Gallery Otara and FAF SWAG. The artists involved have produced an excellent body of work; they represent students, staff, alumni and friends of the Faculty of Creative Arts, each with a unique relationship to South Auckland.

I’ll be speaking as one of seven quick-fire lunchtime artist talks on Tuesday 13 May from 12.30pm at MIT Faculty of Creative Arts, 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara, South Auckland – all welcome! The project’s other public event is a lunchtime panel of LGBTQI youth service providers on Thursday 15 May at 12.30pm. On the actual IDAHOT day, Saturday 17 May, artists, friends and family are invited to morning tea at Fresh Gallery Otara at 11am.

The posters are not for sale, but check out the project’s website and contact page for enquiries.

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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.

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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 PimpiKnows.com for email updates!

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2 GIRLS 1 CONFERENCE is the name a fundraising campaign to support Leilani Kake and I to travel to Vancouver, Canada to present papers at the Pacific Arts Association (PAA) 11th International Symposium.

The theme of the event is, Pacific Intersections and cross currents: uncharted histories and future trends. The PAA regards their gatherings as opportunities for contemporary artists, cultural leaders, historians, museum and gallery curators, researchers, and collectors to engage in lively and creative dialogue in the spirit of true enquiry.

We have presented before with the PAA, and in 2010 travelled to Rarotonga, Cook Islands to participate in the 10th International Symposium. This year Leilani has proposed to discuss her video installation practice in the context of recent research into intercultural identities. I’ve been invited to contribute to a panel entitled, “Curating Pacific Spaces: The New School of Contemporary Pacific Art from New Zealand”.

Having collaborated on international travel, lecture tours, exhibitions and events since 2004, we have built our *award-winning* art practices on strong networking, bold advocacy, a genuine sense of service to our communities and lots of love, sweat and tears! In the past we have attracted support from a wide range of organisations for our collaborative endeavours, but this year we have both returned to full-time tertiary study and arts-related funding for various reasons has been out of reach.

Therefore, we’re fundraising with all our energies to get to Canada and proudly represent our communities. Funds raised will support airfares and accommodation. We have three fundraising initiatives:

  • A campaign on New Zealand’s premier crowdfunding platform, PledgeMe
  • A pretty amazing art auction featuring work by some excellent artists who all lovingly support our cause
  • A limited edition art t-shirt created in collaboration with Tepora Malo, a promising young artist studying to complete a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Creative Arts in Otara, South Auckland

2 GIRLS 1 CONFERENCE is our all or nothing effort to get Pacific art and South Auckland on the PAA radar.

The campaign goes live on Sunday 26 May – a heartfelt acknowledgment of Fresh Gallery Otara’s 7th anniversary, a timeframe that had been historically marked with poignant locally inspired exhibitions, hearty celebration and the opening of the annual Pacific Arts Summit (between 2010-2012)… until this year. Leilani and I want to recognise the humble beginnings of this important South Auckland arts hub with a reminder of the original kaupapa – to generate awareness and engagement with South Auckland’s unique cultural landscape.

On Sunday 26 May, our PledgeMe campaign goes *live* and our efforts to hustle and share to the best of our abilities will go into overdrive!

Whilst we are two individuals travelling to one conference, we represent a community of hard-working artists and the massive interconnected network of Pacific people who sustain and inform them. Our participation is about representing our collectives, making South Auckland visible and engaging new audiences with our vibrant and unique arts and culture.

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I am humbled to be the recipient of the Contemporary Pacific Artist Award of the 2012 Arts Pasifika Awards, administered by the Pacific Arts Committee of Creative New Zealand.

For the past five months, I’ve been transitioning from full-time employment, working in the field of Pacific arts advocacy and curating, to self-employment. Working in a freelance capacity, it is at this time that recognition for my work as a Pacific curator carries significant value.

I had an emotional time at the Awards ceremony, trying to acknowledge everyone. I didn’t mention Jim Vivieaere or Epeli Hau’ofa, who have passed on and whose legacies provide ongoing inspiration for my work. I didn’t acknowledge the investment and support of my parents, Helen and Kaliopate Tavola, and my dear sister, Mereia Carling. I didn’t even acknowledge the artists in my life who are my sounding boards, mentors and collaborators, in particular my South Auckland crew Nigel Borell, Tanu Gago, Rebecca Hobbs, Leilani Kake and the excellent Fresh Gallery Otara brain box, Nicole Lim. But it was lovely to have a small South Auckland contingent in the form of Margaret Aull (honorary South Aucklander!), Donna Tupaea (Chair, Toi o Manukau), my partner Taka and Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai.

I have worked tirelessly for the past seven years and produced 80 odd exhibitions featuring almost 300 artists. I’ve enjoyed so much of the journey and draw such happiness from seeing the artists I’ve worked with go on to do great things. I thanked the Pacific Arts Committee, and Creative New Zealand for acknowledging the art form of curating. I feel it is a historical shift in thinking and represents a win for everyone who works behind the scenes – the producers, publishers, directors and editors – those who enable, empower and encourage our artists to take raw talent, mix it with skills and professionalism and create strong and robust platforms for Pacific expression.

Vinaka vakalevu Creative New Zealand and members of the Pacific Arts Committee!

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The AMP Peoples Choice Scholarship is won every year by public vote. Over the years I’ve voted for authors and artists, poets and designers – the programme supports extraordinary kiwis doing great things and skilled Pacific creatives have often applied. So this year I’m giving it a go.

Every vote counts and voting is open to anyone with a Facebook account!

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