Posts tagged ‘Auckland’

Oceania Interrupted produced this video for a gathering on World Press Freedom Day, Saturday 3 May, in collaboration with South Auckland-based film maker, artist and activist, Tanu Gago.

As the fourth of 15 planned interventions to raise awareness for West Papua  in Aotearoa New Zealand, Action 4 took the form of a call for women to conduct interviews and discuss the issue of West Papua, visibility and freedom with people in their lives. The interviews are woven together with footage from previous Oceania Interrupted interventions or actions, along with imagery and footage that has inspired the collective.

I love being part of Oceania Interrupted; it is life-giving and deeply empowering. Massive thanks to the women who participated and to those who were interviewed, to Tanu Gago who laboured for many hours processing footage and editing, to all the women who have been involved and will be involved in future actions. To Fresh Gallery Otara for hosting our launch and gathering on World Press Freedom Day, to the Faculty of Creative Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology for supporting the project and to everyone who has contributed to this collective effort. We ALL share one love for West Papua and in small ways, hope to be contributing to broadening awareness, mobilising action and affecting change.

Oceania Interrupted: Empowering Collective Action

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Instigated by Samoan writer, teacher and community activist, Leilani SalesaThe Rise of the Morning Star was a performance undertaken on Auckland’s Queen Street on Sunday 1 December 2013 as part of a network of global events to create awareness and activate support for the struggle towards independence in West Papua.

It was an honour and privilege to be part of this collective of Maori and Pacific women standing in solidarity, activating our own awareness, moving with love and intention, silence, respect, sadness and hope. Leilani designed this performance because, “our freedom as indigenous Maori and Pacific women in Aotearoa/New Zealand is inextricably bound up with that of our indigenous West Papua brothers and sisters. We call on all New Zealanders to take notice, that at this very moment in the Pacific, there is a genocide taking place”. Read more here.

The performance included an ordered procession down Queen Street stopping at three major intersections. When the pedestrian light turned green, the performers assembled in a circle around Salesa in the middle of the intersection. Facing outward, the women raised their right fists to the sky as a gesture of solidarity. Throughout the performance, the Morning Star flag representing the West Papua independence movement, was symbolically raised 15 times, a reference to the 15 year jail sentence handed to Papuan independence activist, Filep Karma in 2004 for raising the flag at ceremony in Jayapura, Indonesia.

The performance symbolically began and ended at Selwyn Muru’s public sculpture, Waharoa, a stylised Maori gateway in Auckland’s Aotea Square. The performance inspired emotion amongst all its participants; in its silence, its visibility and in the stark juxtaposition of consumerism and commerce with the quiet reflection and gratitude for the freedom of expression, speech and for independence.

Whilst the issues are large, and there is much to know and understand, small gestures of awareness and opportunities to reflect on our positions as indigenous Pacific women are inspiring and commendable. Well done, Leilani Salesa and sincere thanks to the women who took time out to support, to be aware and be visible.

View more photos from “The Rise of the Morning Star” performance here


fresh art logo full

FRESH ART MARKET is a lively pop-up market day presenting a diverse range of creative practice and free public programme events at South Auckland’s notorious Fresh Gallery Otara!

The event draws together a diverse range of creative practitioners from fine artists to activists, object makers and writers to fashion designers. With everything priced to sell, FRESH ART MARKET is an ideal one stop shop for conscious, hand-made, locally designed gifts and treats!

Stall holders include: Czarina Wilson Design, Leah Espie Photography, Tui Gillies, Luisa Tora and Molly Rangiwai-McHale, Tepora Malo, The Roots Creative Entrepreneurs and more!

Throughout the day, a series of public programme events will take place alongside the Market:

From 9-10am, join visiting arts manager, Dian Ika Gesuri for an inspiring discussion on what Auckland can learn from harnessing creativity, community, collaboration, innovation and commerce, introducing some amazing models of creative entrepreneurship that contribute to social change in the city of Bandung, Indonesia.

At 11am, check out a series of short films including Luisa Tora’s “Home Videos” (2013) and join the film makers for a Q&A.

From 1-2pm, exhibiting artists Sam Afu and ‘Ahota’e’iloa Toetu’u are delivering a free painting workshop inspired by their current exhibition, Ua gau le sila, tuku ki Manono on at Fresh Gallery Otara until 21 December.

Keep an eye on the Facebook event page for updates and specials or send us an enquiry here:

Photo by Sean Atavenitia

I got a reminder the other day that I’ve been blogging with WordPress for seven years. I found my first post on my first blog and see that whilst so much has evolved, my politics are relatively unchanged.

I’ve received food and emails, text messages and phone calls to offer support and comfort after a week of word wars generated from my outspoken commentary of things that happened at the Pacific Arts Association (PAA) 11th International Symposium. I’ve spoken at length with my friends and family about loyalties, change, challenge and values. Accountability to audiences and funders has been thoroughly scrutinised in the past two weeks both online and off.

The next PAA International Symposium will take place in three years time in Auckland, a compelling context to this forum of dialogue. In various conversations with members of the PAA Executive Committee, I’ve expressed excitement for the fact that Auckland has the potential to make Aotearoa’s Pacific community visible and truly relevant. With the Pacific on Auckland’s doorstep, the next PAA International Symposium also has the potential to draw on the real movers and shakers of the Pacific art world, those who locate their practices, thinking and loyalties in the Pacific proper, and within the realm of Pacific people.

I watched Associate Professor Damon Salesa from the University of Auckland deliver a groundbreaking public presentation earlier this year. He introduced the notion of segregation within the consideration of Auckland as a Pacific city. His presentation exposed the heart and nerves of Pacific Island struggle, representation and social development in Aotearoa. Read more here.

In a recent interview for The Pantograph Punch, Samoan writer Daniel Satele referenced Salesa’s idea of social segregation with regards to my efforts to privilege Pacific audiences in the presentation of Pacific art and ideas. Having my position and curatorial practice questioned and abused over the past few days, I feel even more comfort in knowing that understanding, serving and feeding into the social development of Pacific people is where my heart and energies lie.

The next PAA International Symposium in Auckland will be great; I’m not sure if it’s the right forum for me, but I can certainly see a lively and robust programme of complementary events that will undoubtedly secure Auckland’s rightful place as a hub for Pacific art production, appreciation and dialogue.

At Mama Loco, an Auckland Mexican themed bar and eatery, my boyfriend and I were asked to provide a credit card or debit card before being served food in the outside seating area. It was a slightly confronting request, a protocol we would have preferred to have been informed of when being greeted inside the establishment. We wondered if everyone in the outside seating area had been asked the same thing.

Whilst most Mexican themed eateries in Auckland attempt to create an authentic or stylistic Mexican feel, there is a sharp curve of quality and customer service. At the bottom is most definitely MEXICO Food & Liquor in Britomart; mediocre and overpriced food, rude service and terrible pixelated pictures of Frida Kahlo offensively stuck up around the toilet. At the top is Ellerslie’s Mexican Specialties – warm, genuine service, exquisite food, and only open Thursday through Saturday.

Mama Loco’s decor is eye-catching but their prawn taco – mediocre, and their service slightly shambolic. I think of my last trip to California; Leilani and I were staying in downtown L.A and found a little underground Mexican eatery which was cheap, delicious and full of Mexicans. It may seem old-fashioned in the context of globalisation, but when Mexican food and culture is presented and sold by Mexicans, it blows every imitation out the water.

Whether Mama Loco has an unspoken ‘brown person’ policy or not, it was an interesting example of what is presumably young, hip entrepreneurs with their eye on alcohol profits riding a wave of ethnic cool. Good luck with that.

My Pacific & My Auckland

Story by Ema Tavola

Fundamentally, I am opposed to the idea of Auckland being called a Pacific city. I don’t take the word Pacific lightly. It describes my heritage, community and socio-political context, and Auckland reflects little to nothing of who I am.

I am from Suva, Fiji – an actual Pacific city. Fiji’s capital is teeming with Nesian flavour. Void of resorts, Suva is a melting pot of the Pacific with its embassies, regional organisations, tertiary institutions and thriving commercial centres. Pacific people, Fiji people, are the newsmakers, the politicians, the event planners, the strategists, the teachers… the leaders. While plagued with political instability for much of my lifetime, Suva is where the Pacific is truly present.

I live in South Auckland and have studied and worked in Otara for the past decade. The community I call home here in New Zealand is predominantly Polynesian. In Otara, New Zealand’s demographics are turned upside down and the Pacific community defines, creates and is the mainstream. I feel close to the Pacific because I am surrounded by Pacificness – language, laughter, children, brown skin, food and movement. I still get a culture shock when I leave South Auckland and I feel a deep sense of relief when I return.

Because I am embedded in a sense of the Pacific proper and also in the Pacific relocated in Otara, Pacificness for me is where we/I am visible. In Auckland, the Pacific community makes up 14 per cent of the population, less than that of the Asian community and less than a third of that of Pākehā. We are a minority on the margins. As such, Pacific people and issues rarely feature in mainstream media and are rarely seen in advertising. Our representation in the leadership and governance of Auckland is grossly under par. For a Pacific city, Pacific people seem fairly invisible.

Auckland is a settler city now home to a multitude of ethnic groups. Central Auckland hosts the annual Pasifika festival attracting broad audiences to a two-day celebration of Pacific music, food and culture.

But Pasifika is no more important than the other major cultural events like the Lantern Festival celebrating Chinese New Year, and Diwali Festival of Lights. These large-scale culture expos paint a picture of Auckland’s diverse economic potential, giving minority communities the civic limelight for one to two days in the year.

But Auckland is home to the majority of New Zealand’s Pacific population. Now generationally entrenched, over 50 per cent of the population is New Zealand born. The Pacific diaspora has become increasingly integrated into the social fabric of New Zealand and as the community grows, identities evolve. For many Pacific people, our perceived identity is not related so much to where we are, but to where we have become visible when previously we were invisible. The number of Pacific Islanders playing elite schoolboy rugby has grown from almost none to domination of many of the teams.

This creates a problematic measure of Pacific identity. It is arguably a model of oppressed thinking from a community still over-represented in statistics around poor educational achievement, poverty and political dislocation. It feels like a strange colonial Stockholm syndrome that stops us expecting and demanding more of a country that has been built in part on the backs of Pacific labour.

If Auckland were truly a Pacific city I would expect a deeper consciousness about Pacific people and ideas, the wider region and our relationship with not only Polynesia, but Melanesia and Micronesia.

Whilst we have visibility in sports and in small windows of programming on mainstream television, we need to have visibility in decision-making at local and central government levels. We need more leadership in our community, in order to have presence and contribute fully to the Auckland dynamic. Potentially, strong and informed Pacific leaders could confront the large-scale political disenfranchisement we saw so clearly in our last national elections.

In a truly Pacific Auckland, engagement with Pacific communities would be meaningful, intergenerational and mutually beneficial. Mainstream institutions would not only foster relationships with Pacific communities, but actively deliver programming which appeals and educates wider audiences on Pacific lives and experiences.

I’d like to think that in an Auckland conscious of its Pacific community, we would stop building environments that enslave and harm our most disadvantaged sectors.

There are too many urban health hazards: there shouldn’t be liquor stores and takeaways on every corner and substandard imported food sold at every dairy in Mangere, Otara and Ōtāhuhu.

SkyCity and everyone else who introduces pokie machines to the community should be considered stakeholders in problem gambling, and held responsible for the damage they cause.

Tighter regulations around targeted and exploitative money lending would stabilise a community already faced with disproportionate financial challenges.

Sports commentators, news readers and leaders would be educated in how to pronounce Pacific names, and they would understand that mispronunciation is offensive and unnecessary.

Right now in New Zealand, emigration has never looked so appealing. Like many of my friends and networks, I look for jobs regularly in Australia.

If I left, the truth is I would miss South Auckland terribly. I would miss this little piece of the Pacific with its abundance of churches, swarms of brown children, multi-coloured everything. Here, Pacific people have made their mark – survived adversity and built strong, proud communities. Much of South Auckland exists in a parallel universe to the wider Auckland region; it was a self-sufficient little world before the Super City.

If an amalgamated Auckland means South Auckland’s Pacificness is now part of a bigger blander civic picture, then perhaps Auckland is a Pacific City. But there is no doubt in my mind that South Auckland is its beating heart.

This article was written for Metro magazine (August 2012)
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