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!