The Tuvaluan Arts Collective - Fafine Niutao I Aotearoa together with the Niutao island community hosted a Tuvalu Arts Festival over the weekend with the aim of providing opportunities for their artists to share their art & culture beyond their own communities.
All up there was around 100 women who participated in the one day festival. Although the Tuvaluan community have a very strong and vibrant culture and identity in New Zealand and each of the 8 main islands hold their own cultural events & festivals, this was a new festival initiative to try and get the smaller Tuvaluan island community groups to connect & engage with mainstream artists and art galleries.
One of the smallest islands in the Tuvalu group Nukulaelae participated and did a special contemporary dance with vaka paddles. Rare and beautiful traditional art work from the wider community was exhibited and sold including traditional dance costumes, pandanus weaving, kolose (crochet patterns) & Fa Fetu.
Mats previously displayed at Object Space - came from the art exhibition. There was every day art, casual tops with crochet in them and women making traditional fans & traditional dance skirts.
As well as the art forms like Kolose that are particular to Tuvalu, there was also Sulu Faka’alo which looks like tivaevae from the Cook Islands. Tuvaluan women were exposed to the artform when their husbands went mining on the island of Fanafa but it is not widely known that Tuvalu practices this art form.
Along with the Auckland Tuvaluan community, Tuvaluans from both Oamaru and Wellington EKT came up with exhibits (Oamaru had done an exhibition inconjunction with the theatre production 'Still Life with Chickens') and support for the Tuvalu heritage arts.
Tuvaluan Arts Collective co-ordinator Malama T-Pole said she hoped the event would encourage the Tuvaluan grassroots community artists as well as bridge the gap between the island arts and mainstream arts and exposure as there is still a need to promote arts and networking for the community in this way "It's important for NZ raised kids to see our island arts elevated in mainstream and seeing it outside their own communities" she said.