Posts from the ‘Tattoo 4 Tonga’ category

I made a series of collages for the #Tattoo4Tonga fundraising effort last month inspired by a visit to Auckland Museum. Associate Curator Pacific, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai bought one the works in my Paper Breastplates Series and wrote this blog about the inspiration that stemmed from a quick visit to the Auckland Museum store room! Click here to read more…

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I’ve made a series of paper collages to sell at #Tattoo4Tonga this weekend.

I was inspired after a visit to the Auckland Museum storeroom where I spied some exquisite Fijian breastplates kept in dark little drawers. Being so close to them without a glass cabinet between us, I felt attached and energised by them; I’ve been intrigued with Fijian breastplate design for a long time. Although I was able to photograph them, I was asked not to share the imagery. I loved encountering these beautiful objects and wanted to tell the world! As a social media creature, I found this proposition quite challenging… so, this series came about.

A paper entitled, Uncharted Histories of Ivory Carving Canoe Builders and Canoe Building Ivory Carvers in Western Polynesia, delivered by Steven Hooper at the Pacific Arts Association International Symposium in Vancouver last year gave me a deeper appreciation for the construction of Fijian breastplates. The Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji exhibition catalogue published by the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge (UK) has also inspired me. I long-term borrowed it from my parents on a recent trip to Suva, where I also made a quick visit to the Fiji Museum. I love observing the ways in which Fijian objects are kept, discussed, displayed and valued in these very different contexts.

Civavonovono - Breastplate, Fiji Museum

These paper breastplates were created thinking about where these beautiful objects live, in the Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand, thousands of miles from where they came from. I was thinking about value and values, Fijian value and non-Fijian value. And imagining what repatriation would feel like, and in an ideal world, what the Fiji Museum could house and display if they had the resources and leadership of larger international museums.

The works I made use pages of magazines and journals about Auckland, Renaissance art, American muscle cars, contemporary art, oceans, Fijian arts and culture and the Bible.

This series, made specifically for the #Tattoo4Tonga event, measure approximately 250x250mm. They’ll be framed and sold for NZD100 each. All proceeds go towards Cyclone Ian relief in Ha’apai, Tonga.

Tattoo 4 TongaDriven by Stanley Lolohea from Urban Kupesi Tattoos, TATTOO 4 TONGA is a unique event seeking to raise funds for Tropical Cyclone Ian relief for the people of Ha’apai, Tonga.

Featuring Polynesian tattooists Duss Malaesilia, Kirby Tavita, Geoffrey Siale Thomas as well as Stanley Lolohea, TATTOO 4 TONGA will be a one-day live art event at Fresh Gallery Otara on Saturday 15 February. Audiences will have the opportunity to watch the artists working live from 9am – 2pm, artworks and prints will also be available for sale with ALL proceeds going to support Cyclone Ian relief efforts in Ha’apai.

  • Tattoo appointments need to be made in advance by contacting the individual artists – see below for details.

Supported by Auckland-based Tongan art collective, No’o Fakataha, TATTOO 4 TONGA will also be an opportunity to pick up artworks and prints by contemporary Tongan artists that are priced to sell! PIMPI + Friends will also be selling a range of artworks from contemporary Pacific artists; details of which will be released via Facebook leading up to the event.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ian hit Tonga’s low-lying islands of Ha’apai in early January with wind speeds of up to 279km/hour. The Category 4 cyclone caused widespread destruction with homes and buildings flattened and thousands left homeless.

TATTOO 4 TONGA is an opportunity for Pacific artists in Auckland to contribute their time, energy and skills towards supporting Ha’apai in an act of Pacific solidarity.


TATTOO 4 TONGA event enquiries: Ema Tavola, Mb 027 5779369 / Email

Tattoo Artists:

Stanley Lolohea (Urban Kupesi Tattoos)
Instagram: @urbankupesitattoos

Duss Malaesilia
Instagram: @Marxduss

Kirby Tavita (Sanctify Tattoo Studio)
Instagram: @owingcollective

Geoffrey Siale Thomas
Instagram: @teddytatts


Date: Saturday 15 February 2014
Time: 9am – 2pm
Venue: Fresh Gallery Otara, 5/46 Fairmall, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland

Venue enquiries: Nicole Lim, Gallery Coordinator, Ph (09) 261 8030 / Email

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