"I don't make art for galleries, I make art for myself.  I'm just answering questions for myself that I need to explore, something that's weighing heavy on me.  I find it a healing process" - Pati Solomona Tyrell  Winner of the 2020 Creative NZ Pasifika Arts 'Emerging Pacific Artist Award  Pati Tyrell is a Samoan interdisciplinary artist with a strong focus on performance. Utilizing lens-based media he creates visual outcomes that are cantered around urban Pacific queer identity. He has shown work at Museum of Contemporary Arts Australia, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Centre Pompidou Paris and was a 2018 Walters Prize nominee. Tyrell is a co-founder of the queer Pasifika arts collective FAFSWAG, who in 2020 received an Arts Foundation Laureate. Pati is a pioneering member of the New Zealand ballroom scene, father to the House of Aitu where he continues to build and mobilize his community. He is a graduate of the Bachelor of Creative Arts programme at the Manukau Institute of Technology, Otara. Pati is originally from Kirikiriroa, Waikato but is now based in Maungarei, Tāmaki Makaurau.



    "You never know if you're going to win or lose, you never know if you make something it's going to work and only by taking that risk, you try and make something that you think will be of interest to the world ... " - Nina Nawalowalo Winner of the 2017 Creative NZ Arts Pasifika 'Senior Pacific Artist Award' In a career spanning more than 30 years, internationally acclaimed theatre director Nina Nawalowalo has created a platform for the telling of Pacific stories across the globe. Artistic Director and Co-founder of Wellington-based theatre company The Conch, she is a performer, mentor and teacher who has presented at over 40 international festivals, including the London International Mime Festival, British Festival of Visual Theatre, and the Moscow Arts Festival. From her ground breaking Vula, which toured for seven years including a three week season at The Sydney Opera House and a sold out season at London’s Barbican Centre, to Masi and Marama, Nina is renowned for her powerful work exploring Pacific themes. Nina has imbued the same magic through her unforgettable direction of works such as Hone Kouka’s The Prophet and Edinburgh Festival award winning Duck Death and the Tulip. She is passionately committed to bringing untold stories into the light and for using theatre as a vehicle to affect social change. In 2013 she established the Solomon Islands National Women's Theatre Company Stages of Change as a means to address violence against women and girls. The 15 women company performed at the Melanesian Arts Festival in Papua New Guinea and at the EU Parliament in Brussels. Her most recent show, The White Guitar, is the powerful story of The Luafutu Family: Father John and sons Matthias and Malo – aka renowned hip hop artist, Scribe. Told by the Luafutu family, the sold-out show was lauded by critics with praise such as: “If there’s any show that you’re going to see in the next decade, this has to be it” Radio New Zealand “a seminal moment in New Zealand theatre history” The Press.



    "I'm an incredibly emotional singer and I think that's why opera works so well for me because not only do I get lost in the story of the character but I get lost in the story of my own journey in this whole thing" - Pene Pati Winner of the 2010 Creative NZ Arts Pasifika 'Iosefa Enari Memorial Award'  Pene Pati is one third of the smash-hit opera family group Sol3 Mio. Samoan tenor Pene Pati has taken the operatic world by storm with recent debuts as Percy in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at Opéra national de Bordeaux, Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at San Francisco Opera and Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata at Moscow’s historic Bolshoi Theatre, and been hailed ​“the most exceptional tenor discovery of the last decade” (Opéra-Online). While still a young artist on San Francisco Opera’s Adler Program, his critically acclaimed 2017 debut as Il Duca di Mantova in Verdi’s Rigoletto, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti, thrust the New Zealander into the limelight, receiving subsequent invitations to join productions of L’elisir d’amore, Madama Butterfly and Manon. He is currently based back in New Zealand after the Mozart opera Mitridate was cancelled due to Covid-19 on the eve of the opening night at the Berlin State Opera House. He will be one of 4 New Zealand tutors at the 2021 New Zealand Opera School in Whanaganui starting early January.



    "If you think about how Aotearoa invaded Samoa over 100 years ago, we were eventually going to come back and fight the colonial power and it's through the arts that's happened" - Iosefa Enari, MNZM Winner of the 2018 Creative Arts NZ Pasifika 'Special Recognition Award'  Iosefa Punefu Enari was recognized in the 2020 Queen's Honors list as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit For services to Pacific dance. Iosefa is a dancer, choreographer, artistic director and educator. He is the founder and artistic director of Pacific Dance New Zealand (PDNZ), the national organisation established in 2010 for the development of New Zealand’s Pacific dance industry. He was also a founding member of Pacific Theatre in 1987. He trained as a professional dancer at LIMBS Dance Programme, UNITEC School of Performing Arts and holds a masters degree in Dance Studies from the University of Auckland. Through PDNZ, he has been integral in organising a number of national events including the Pacific Dance Artist in Residence, the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab, various symposiums, educational and community programmes, and the annual Pacific Dance Festival. As a choreographer he created dance works for the World War One centenary commemoration at Auckland Museum in 2014 and the opening performance for the 2014 televised National Rugby Awards Ceremony. He has created works for art galleries, professional live theatre, television programmes and films. He has performed in the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe and throughout the Pacific.

  • BENSON WILSON - Samoan Baritone 'Most Promising Opera Singer'

    BENSON WILSON - Samoan Baritone 'Most Promising Opera Singer'

    Congratulations Benson!  So awesome to see Polys doing well in Opera!  Check him out in the promo vid above for Operanesia (a collaboration between four classically trained singers who all hail from Auckland via the Pacific Islands of Samoa and Tonga) The Baritone singer won the acclaimed Lexus Song Quests Grand Gala Final last night and was crowned 'Most Promising Opera Singer'.  He was up against 3 other finalists - 2 of whom were also of Pasifika descent.  His prize package included an immediate cash prize of $20,000, a Study Scholarship of $27,000, plus economy international travel up to the value of $3,000. {{20387}} He has been a member of the New Zealand Youth choir since 2011 and also works as a vocal coach at several high schools in Auckland.  He's hoping to pursue post graduate training at one of the elite music institutions in the UK next year. We're looking forward to hearing more from #BaritoneBenson in the future - Bravo Benson!     Suggested Links:   Bravo to our Lexus Song Quest Finalists Sole Mio's Amitai Pati discusses new album    



    Ben Makisi aka The Polynesian Pavarotti - our very own international Opera Singer singing his way around Europe!  Benjamin Fifita Makisi was born in Wellington, NZ and is of Tongan and Samoan descent. He began singing at a young age with the Tongan Wesley Methodist church choir in Wellington. He graduated with a Master of Performance (Opera) with High Distinction from the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from Victoria University Wellington. He had also received his tutoring in New York, London and in Italy.



    SAMSON SETU  ASPIRING OPERA SINGER/PERFORMER &  WINNER OF THE 2019 CREATIVE NZ ARTS PASIFIKA, IOSEFA ENARI MEMORIAL AWARD SAMOAN  . I was born and raised in South Auckland, grew up in Manurewa - Rewa Hard - for about 17 years of my life.  My family attended a church in Manurewa and still do.  My grandfather was a pastor for that church for a good 20 years.  I also went to Primary School in Manurewa, played Rugby League for the Manurewa Marlins and I'm really proud to be from Manurewa.  I'm a Samoan, my grandparents come from Samoa, my Mums family come from the villages of Vaimoso and Salelologa, Savai'i and my Dads parents come from Fasito'o uta and Fogapoa, Savai'i. I'm an aspiring opera singer and newly, currently based in London attending the Royal College of Music studying towards a Post Graduate diploma in Vocal Performance.  I'm also a member of the Shades which is like a bit of a modern opera quartet which formed at Auckland University where we all met for the first time and we perform regularly in Auckland and around New Zealand too.   Samson and the Shades Quartet  {{15062}} Congratulations on being awarded the Iosefa Enari Memorial award at the Creative New Zealand Pacific Arts Awards last night - can you tell us about the pathways that led you down the music track and more specifically getting into opera? I was born into a musical family, as I mentioned before my grandfather was a pastor at our family church in Manurewa and his kids - my Dad and his siblings - all played instruments or sang so they had their own little family band and naturally, me, my siblings and my first cousins were born into this family band.  From there my siblings and first cousins would meet regularly as we got older and my Dad & his siblings would teach us songs and we would perform every now and then at church so that was good fun and a lot of tears shed also, lots of good lessons learned.  So you could say we were on the stage from a very young age and it was very instrumental in my upbringing.   I wasn't really introduced to opera music or classical singing until I was about 16 or 17 when I went to Dilworth School and joined the school choir.  The choir conductor Clare Caldwell pulled me aside one night and told me voice was unique and maybe I should consider singing opera.  The thought of that made me cringe and laugh at the same time because of course being a young teenager from South Auckland, you think you know it all and that idea didn't sit well with me at first (laughs)  {{15065}} Come to Year 13, I didn't know what I'd do when I left high school and I was looking into joining the Armed Forces or going to play Rugby somewhere but then I remembered Clare had told me about singing and learning music at uni, so I looked more into that and had some encouragement from another Dilworth old boy by the name of Joel Amosa.  He's also doing great things himself in the opera world and so both him & Clare encouraged me so I went down to Otago and studied Opera singing for the next couple of years of my life.   I was 21 and about half way through my 3rd year at Otago and I just had enough of it so I thought I'd go up to England and try out some rugby, so I got in touch with a local club in England - Briton - and they asked me to come over and check out the club.  So I did that, and they were happy to have me over there and they told me to go home, get my stuff and come back and play a season, then if things went well they could extend the contract.  I went back to New Zealand & not sure what happened but I had some sort of epiphany that I should stick with singing so I transferred up to Auckland and this time I understood opera a little bit more, was older and a little bit more mature and really started to appreciate opera music.   So my love for opera didn't really start until a few years ago and since then I've really embraced every singing lesson, singing opportunity and singing challenge.   {{15067}} You've just arrived in London on a full scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London. Can you tell us how you came to be offered the scholarship and what's involved with your studies ... So I'm studying a graduate diploma in Vocal Performance which is a one year course and from there I'll be looking to do an Opera Course at the Royal College which is about 2 years.  I'll be based here for the next wee while and even after my study I'll probably be based here in the UK, US or Europe somewhere just for work and singing opportunities which is the normal transition for opera singers.   Myself and 4 other boys were all part of a foundation formed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and her foundation members.  They've run a programme in New Zealand for the past couple of years where they handpicked 5 young singers and then run modules and courses throughout the year that targeted different components of opera singing.  For example we had Language coaching which was one module and would last about a week & then there'd be a module for performing and acting, another module for technique plus vocal coaching.  {{15069}} Dame Kiri and her foundation encouraged us to look at studying abroad and nurtured that idea from last year so I decided that I'd go over to the UK and US in February of this year and do a bit of a consultation tour which is where you go around to different schools and sing for different teachers, see what they think and if it's good enough then they offer you something.   When I did that tour, I didn't actually go to the Royal College but Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has a great relationship with the college & she suggested that they look at me as a candidate for a scholarship.  By then it was May and I'd had to send tapes in and recordings so it all happened quite fast - I'd sent the tapes on Friday and by Tuesday they called and said sorry they didn't have anything for me because I was a bit late.  Then I got another phone call a couple of days later and they said, actually there's been an opening - are you able to fly tomorrow?    So it all happened really quickly, overnight I had to get up to London and with a days rest audition for the school then go for an interview.  After that interview they offered me a full scholarship to the school on the spot which was a great blessing and I'm extremely grateful to Dame Kiri and the foundation for their effort, support and help through the years. {{15074}} What has been your biggest challenge & also your most rewarding moment of your journey? The biggest challenge for me as a young opera singer was all the stuff that happened off stage.  There's always after functions and a lot of the people that come to watch opera are rich, white people - those 2 things of which I am not (laughs) and so I couldn't relate to them at all and I'd just find myself wanting to leave those functions and it was something I really struggled with especially as a younger singer.  As I said I'm from South Auckland, I'm a Samoan, I'm not born into wealth and a lot of the time they'd surround you and talk your ears off and I'd just feel uncomfortable.  I think the reason I felt uncomfortable was because I'd put on a face or a mask trying to please them but I've got older and matured I've learned just to be myself and I don't apologise for being myself.  It's funny now because I've noticed that they love that more you know?  They don't mind my slightly hori accent (laughs) {{15081}} One of my most rewarding moments was when I'd been asked to perform at a concert called 'The Last night of the Proms' which is a British tradition where they sing songs about how great Britain is and how powerful the nation is.  Anyway, there's a song that comes near the end of the concert called 'Rule Brittania' which is one of the most racist songs I've ever heard in my life and I'm not sure how it's still being played today around the world but it's tradition.  It's an English tradition.  So I'm a soloist and they asked me to sing this song and this song is ... yeah, a controversial topic which my singing teacher bought up with me and I just felt immense pride when I sang this because I whipped out a little Samoan flag and I waved it around when I sang this and it was kind of like a message to the Brits saying 'Up Yours!' (Laughs)  The conductor had the Union Jack on his back but Samoa took the win that day! {{15071}} Who or what has motivated or inspired you in your career or through your journey? God, my family and I've got a little bit of a singing support crew.  Like most Polynesian families, they've come here to look for better opportunities and better lives and I'd hate for my grandparents sacrifice to be for nothing.  I'd love to make something of myself and make a name for myself in their honour - I want to give back to them and give back to my parents for all they've done for me.  Everyone goes through their hard times growing up and I'd love to be able to take care of my parents one day and for them not to worry about anything would make me very happy.  Thats what fuels me every day and just to know that there are a lot of people supporting me and backing me.  Also just to be a boy from Manurewa - Rewa Hard - singing on an Opera stage, at first I thought it was kinda wierd but now I think it's special and I'd love to take Manurewa to the world but also knowing that this wouldn't be possible without God. {{15077}} What advice would you give for other rising Pasifika opera singers? Work hard - the saying 'Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard' that's so true you know?  So work hard but also remember to enjoy the ride.  Opera singing for a lot of singers is about longevity and the voice is a tricky thing and it takes it's time to mature.  Everyone is different but Opera singing is definitely a long ball game.   {{15076}} What are your plans and dreams for the future? My plan for the next couple of years is to study and then from there I'll audition for Opera houses to get into a Young Artist programme which is like an internship.  From there I'll try and get work as a full on Opera singer either in Europe or America as thats where all the work is.  So that's my plan for the next five years. A dream for me would be to be able to come back to the community of Manurewa or even in Samoa.  I'd love to work with troubled youth whether it be giving back through music or through sport.  My other passion and dream is rugby - I love rugby - and so I'd love to work with youth one day. {{15083}}



    Earlier this evening, the Attitude Awards took place - a black-tie gala event celebrating the achievements of those in the disabled community.  As with every year, the nominations are filled with incredible and inspiring stories from both people living with disabilities and able-bodied people who support them.  Tonight the 'Spirit of Attitude' award which is awarded to someone who has had a unique journey and has risen to the challenges of their disability and applied a positive, 'can-do' spirit,  was won by Lusi Faiva who is of Samoan heritage.  Coco congrats Lusi!   {{20128}} Born with Cerebal Palsy, Lusi was taken away from her birth parents by the state and placed in an institution. She was adopted by the Jone's who gave her the support she needed and enabled her to have continued development, then at 13 she was reconnected with her birth monther and Samoan culture.  Her determination toward taking the spotlight and mic which led her to join the family choir and make steps into musical theatre. She has since toured with 'Outer Limits' in NZ and Australia and her latest work/short film 'Becoming Masina' was presented in DocEdge's film festival, coming second at DocArts. A couple of months ago she also co-won the 'Pacific Toa Artist Award' at the 2020 Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards.  This award recognises the contribution of a Pasifika artist with the lived experience of disability to the standing and standard of Pacific Arts nationally or globally. {{20131}} Lusi shared some of her inspirational story with us here -  I am so happy and honoured to be nominated by people who have supported me over 24 years of experience in the performance industry. I am originally from Wellington. I grew up living between Levin and Petone, Lower Hutt but have lived here in Auckland the longest.  I have Cerebral Palsy - Spastic quadriplegia since birth. It affects my muscle coordination and walking movements on both sides of my body, especially my speech. My left side is stronger than the right. Growing up with a disability was immensely challenging for me in my own Samoan family, I found myself being outcast. The Pacific community can be intimidated towards someone different who has a disability so I didn't take part in the family activities. {{20138}} It is sad to say that, however, I adapted to be able to do things that made me feel like part of a group of people who accepted me. It's imperative to be able to share our stories of challenges. I used to love watching the old black & white movies, so I would imagine that I could perform on stage one day.  I like to connect with the audience and I enjoy seeing people's reaction to my perspective on performance.  I am a dancer, performer and founding member of Touch Compass which is Aotearoa's leading professional performance company and is disability led. They were also the first company to mix integrated dance with dancers with and without disabilities since 1997. The challenges when going on tour with the theatre & studio venues for wheelchair access becomes an obstacle when travelling too.  However, it has been super teamwork to get it to work out for us all as the company.  I guess my most acclaimed performance is "Lusi's Eden" which is based on my childhood story and is also my favourite one. {{20133}} I had to learn more about my Samoan heritage, and I've embraced it which is a good thing. I plan to do solo work on my own experience with Samoan traditional style in the New Year. My advice to the next generation of young Pacific artists is not afraid to take risks to the discovery of a passion for anything that they want to do. {{20135}}

  • From Tonga to New York - Visesio Siasau

    From Tonga to New York - Visesio Siasau

    Two Te Wānanga o Aotearoa arts graduates are about to pack their bags for a taste of the Big Apple. Source: Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Visesio Siasau and his wife Serene Tay, are off for a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, New York after he was named Paramount Award Winner in the 24thWallace Art Awards earlier this month.   Visesio and Serene, who leave in March, are among the first graduates from He Waka Hiringa, the Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge programme run by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa at Mangakōtukutuku in Hamilton.   Their collaborative piece – a 4.4m by 18m tapa cloth work titled Onotu’ofe’uli – Onotu’ofekula - was a labour of love more than two years in the making that included a stint at Visesio’s village in Tonga.   The enormous work, which had to be cut in half in Tonga so it could be brought on board a plane back to New Zealand, consists of 23 different stencil designs.   {{20391}} The Siasau fāmili with the award winning tapa Visesio & Serene collaborated on. Each design offers a critical examination of the role of the Christian church in the Pacific Island nation and how traditional knowledge is perceived within that context.   “Ninety seven per cent of Tongans are Christians, we are absolutely dominated by Christianity and I believe that Tongan knowledge is underestimated by our people,” said Visesio.   A former electrician in the Tongan Navy, Visesio said he conducted the visual language and design for his artwork’s course requirements.   “I believe that art is an articulation, - especially to us indigenous people,” he said.   “The wood was the practical side of my philosophy. My wife was from the other side where she was preparing people spiritually and mentally to get the wood ready. “   The artwork is labour intensive and required thousands of layers of tapa sheets, which come from the mulberry bush that is beaten down into sheets.   The stencils are printed on sacks and the cloth is dyed using burnt candle nuts that are mixed and ground with black mangroves.   A sculptor, Visesio said the award, which includes a monthly stipend, will allow the couple “to go and focus only on art”. The couple will be attending university lectures and engaging with other artists at museums and art galleries around what is arguably the world’s art capital   “New York is one of the main art centres in the world so to get to that level and take work from my Tongan inheritance creates a dialogue in the institution of art so people can open up and talk. Art is about breaking down boundaries.”   “I think it’s a good chance to push heritage work like ours into that dimension.”   The first Tongan to achieve the Wallace Art award, Visesio believes his time spent in New York should lead to more doors opening at art institutions around the world.   “I want to go to the unconverted who are in the hierarchy of every institution and try to present our knowledge to them and convince them to have a look that what we have is relevant.”   “From there we can work collaboratively and constructively as artists.”   Visesio says he has other projects lined up both in New Zealand and in Tonga when he returns from New York.   He believes his knowledge will enable him to benefit people within his community.   “I can contribute by teaching them the work from the pathways I have been on.”   “Tongans are too tempted by the western side and we tend to underestimate our art forms, like poetry and song.”   “I’d like to change that,” he said. Image by Pataka



    ANE TONGA  Artist/ Curator of Pacific Art & Inaugral curator of Pacific Art in Toi o Tamaki, Auckland Art Gallery Tongan . My name is Ane Tonga and I am from the villages of Vaini and Kolofo’ou. I was born and raised in Auckland-in Mount Wellington/East Side to be exact. {{17189}} You and your older sister Nina are both Arts Curators in a major NZ gallery and museum - are you unicorns? How unique and important is this for Moana people?   Unicorns are closely related to horses and we’re Tongan so watch out, ha! All joking aside, Nina and I aren’t dissimilar to other Tongan and Pacific people; we are proud of our heritage and demand nothing less than excellence when it comes to the work that we do to serve indigenous and Pacific peoples. In saying that, curatorial roles in Aotearoa are certainly coveted so that fact that my sister and I hold these positions is rare as much as it is political. You could say that we’re kind of the antithesis of what would come to mind when you think of a museum/gallery curator- brown, female, young (in curator years which is like dog years). But I’m very aware of the responsibility that comes with being the inaugural Curator of Pacific Art in Toi o Tāmaki, (Auckland Art Gallery) as is Nina who is the first Pacific person to ever hold the role of Curator of Contemporary Art at Te Papa (our national museum). It’s also important not to see us in isolation but rather that we’re here because of other pioneering Pacific academics and curators who have helped pave a way and continue to mentor us like Sean Mallon and Dr Caroline Vercoe amongst many others. There are other non-Pacific professionals that have also mentored us like Sarah Farrar, Jenny Harper and Tim Walker. Most importantly, we also draw strength from our family who are with us through all of these milestones and keep us grounded.     {{17191}} Tell us how you got into arts and what has your work been focused on?  Art has been part of my life since I was born. My grandmother keeps and maintains ngātu and every summer she would bring it out and repaint parts of the patterning using a concoction of different materials. I studied photography and art history subjects in high school, then went on to study at Elam School of Fine Arts and specialised in photography. I was lucky to find employment in the arts upon graduating. I did my first curatorial internship at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt and from there curating as a profession has provided me with opportunities to work and live in different parts of the Aotearoa. My research has been focused on contemporary Pacific art and curatorial practice, lens-based practices and indigenous feminisms. My writing for art publications and catalogues has focused primarily on female artists of Māori and Pacific descent.  {{17193}} I maintain an art practice but luckily I’m a bit of a slow burner so I don’t feel like there’s a tension between my role as an artist and curator.  . {{17195}} How big a deal is it that a Pasifika person is curating at the Akl Gallery? We all know that it's a long time coming in the biggest Polynesian city in the world but how much of an impact are you hoping to make there?  It’s a momentous occasion, for me, my family and for the Pacific. I’m grateful for the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation who have made this role possible as well as others who have contributed towards it. As you say, it’s been a long time coming and has taken many people to get us here.Although it’s early days (I’m in week two of the job!) I’m really focused on seeing our gallery increase access and engagement with Pacific art and artists. I’m keen to  develop the Pacific collection and produce targeted research that will have wider output than exhibitions and publications. Through that work we can give greater visibility to the a spectrum of Pacific narratives and experiences. Ultimately, what I’m wanting in terms of impact is to ensure that this role will continue long after my time and, in doing so, create the curatorial infrastructure that will see that our Pacific artists and communities thrive into the future. {{17198}} What's exciting about Pasifika arts in Aotearoa at the moment - what gives you hope and inspiration for what Pasifika artists are saying today?  I don’t know that there’s ever been a moment (past or present) where I haven’t been excited about Pacific arts. Pacific artists today are part of a wave of changes that has waxed and waned, and can be as ephemeral as hope and inspiration that is tested, pushed and restored at different times. Not at all surprised that an ocean metaphor slipped into my answer just then. If I could narrow it down to one thing, it is the collective nature of which our Pacific artists and indigenous artists are working within that inspires me. Working towards a shared purpose, the ‘greater good’ if you will, is part of a shift happening that enables the type of changes I want to see in the world.

  • TAPA OF THE PACIFIC - Tonga Ngatu with Tui Emma Gillies & Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows

    TAPA OF THE PACIFIC - Tonga Ngatu with Tui Emma Gillies & Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows

    Tui Emma Gillies & her mother Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows, full time artists and ngatu makers have had the art of Tongan Tapa making passed down to them through the generations. They now want to introduce & share their cultural heritage with the world.

  • TAPA OF THE PACIFIC - Fiji Masi with Joana Monolagi

    TAPA OF THE PACIFIC - Fiji Masi with Joana Monolagi

    "As an indigenous Fijian woman, masi is very, very important to me. It speaks of all these different hands that have created the masi and it belongs to ... the vanua, the land" - Joana Monolagi

  • Creative Native: Kalisolaite 'Uhila

    Creative Native: Kalisolaite 'Uhila

    Ever wondered what it may be like to live like a pig? Tongan artist and #CreativeNative Kalisolaite 'Uhila did just that all in the name of art - check out his exploration into the use of the pig in our Pacific culture, and how he and the pig became one! Think you know you're Ta'ovala? Check out the do's and don'ts here

  • Angela Tiatia from Sydney

    Angela Tiatia from Sydney

    As a multimedia artist, Angela Tiatia explores contemporary culture, drawing attention to its relationship to representation, gender, neo-colonialism and the commodification of the body and place. Her work has been exhibited in Köln, Singapore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Mexico City, Honolulu, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Wellington.  Check out more from Angela Tiatia



    Visual artist Tanu Gago shares his ink he has to represent his siblings - 9 sisters and 2 brothers!

  • KISSING YOU - Isabella Moore : The Music from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet performed live

    KISSING YOU - Isabella Moore : The Music from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet performed live

    Des'ree's Kissing You - Performed by Isabella Moore The magic of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet was recasting Shakespeare's timeless romantic tragedy in the heady rush of mid-'90s cool, with a soundtrack blending grunge, dance, classical, opera and dawning girl power into a record-breaking chart phenomenon. 

  • MULTI-NESIANS: Leki Jackson-Bourke

    MULTI-NESIANS: Leki Jackson-Bourke

    'MULTI-NESIANS’’ is a series of conversations around race, identity and mixed cultural upbringings in Aotearoa.  There are strong intersects of many Pasifika, Asian, Maori, Melanesian and Palagi cultures across these stories, emphasising our Oceanic connectedness and shared DNA, as well as our differences in the new cosmopolitan Moana.   8 Kiwi -Pacific 3rd generation millennials share the ways in which they express their generations identities and issues. . EPISODE 1 - LEKI JACKSON-BOURKE  Tongan / Samoan / Niuean  "Because Aucklands so multi-cultural and because everything's Pacific it just gets lumped into one Pan Pacific thing, so I had to work really hard to wear my Samoan hat, wear my Tongan jersey, or wave my Niuean flag.   I had to make sure there was even representation because to not do that would be a dis-service to my ancestors and the people that raised me" - Leki Jackson-Bourke



    The Coconet TV is proud to kick off its 'Daughter's of the Migration' series celebrating the impact Pacific women have had in Aotearoa over the generations. The Samoan supernova that is Parris Goebel tells the little-known story of her family dynamics growing up in South Auckland, and the strong sisterhood that helped her build a global legacy. We celebrate this trailblazing Kiwi-Islander in this special glimpse into her life, with these rare captured moments of one of the busiest women in the biz.

  • THE NEW OCEANIA - Albert Wendt

    THE NEW OCEANIA - Albert Wendt

    Shirley Horrocks' documentary profiles the life, work and influence of pioneering PI writer Albert Wendt (1973's Sons for the Return Home was the first novel published in English by a Samoan). The film accompanies the writer to various locations in the Pacific and addresses his Samoa upbringing, his education in New Zealand and his work as writer and teacher; and discusses the contemporary explosion of Pacific arts. "I belong to Oceania — or, at least, I am rooted in a fertile part of it and it nourishes my spirit, helps to define me, and feeds my imagination." 



    Acclaimed New Zealand actor, television presenter and writer Oscar Kightley shares his world

  • Fale Sa by Nathaniel Lees at FestPac in Guam!

    Fale Sa by Nathaniel Lees at FestPac in Guam!

    Veteran Samoan actor/writer/director Nathaniel Lees brings his beautiful performance art piece to life at this year's Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam! Performed on a gorgeous beach at dawn, FALE SA invokes the legend of Tagaloa a Lagi and the spirit of Creation!



    Visual Artist  Janets 'weapons' are video & installation art.  She combines her interest in experimental music videos & documentaries.  Check out the amazing show she did at the Tjabou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia and around Noumea which combined art with her love of the show 'Americas Next Top Model'. Suggested Links:   Janet Lilo - Status Update  Eff your Beauty Standards 



    The beautiful Annie Crummer shares a slice of her world; all the way in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. - Check out 'Fresh' Saturdays 10am TV2 Platinum selling artist Annie.C. (Annie Crummer) of Tahitian/Cook Island descent. Debut album ‘Language’ gained platinum status in NZ, second album ‘Seventh Wave’ gold status. Major support tours with Sir Paul McCartney, K.D Lang, Ray Charles, Sting and Michael Jackson. Lead role as Killer Queen in the Queen Broadway musical ‘We Will Rock You’- directed by Ben Elton, hugely successful in Japan, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  On 29 June 2011, Annie received The Lifetime Achievement Award at The Pacific Music Awards. “The voice of one in a million” Brian May of QUEEN

  • Black Grace: Siva - Neil Ieremia

    Black Grace: Siva - Neil Ieremia

    “Siva explodes from the collision of the past and future, capturing our common beauty, our shared history and divine difference. It is more than a celebration of the past - with our fears arrested, it is about rushing headlong into the future.” – Neil Ieremia



    They are the kings of comedy, Tofiga Fepuleai & Eteuati Ete share their life as The Laughing Samoans

  • Tinā by Grace Taylor

    Tinā by Grace Taylor

    Check out this beautiful piece by South-Auckland spoken word artist Grace Taylor! Made up of 3 different poems (Storm of a Woman, Tinā 1 and Tinā 2) from her first book of written poetry Afakasi Speaks, it speaks of the strength and poise of what a tama'ita'i Samoa means to her - and her mother. Of Samoan, English and Japanese ancestry, Grace is also the co-Founder of Rising Voices Youth Poetry Movement and South Auckland Poets Collective - and is also creating her first one-woman show called My Own Darling!

  • Resample Guåhan - Matthew Faiumu Salapu

    Resample Guåhan - Matthew Faiumu Salapu

    This is a newly released artwork that originated from the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts Guam 2016 (Guam FestPac 2016) “Resample Guåhan” is a 20 and a half minute long soundscape composition by South Auckland Urban/ Pacific/ Avant Garde Music Producer 'Anonymouz' (Matthew Faiumu Salapu). Created entirely out of audio samples recorded on location from the various natural environments and performance events taking place around Guam.  The soundscape has been constructed using urban Hip Hop music production techniques as well as an EQ filtering method where Anonymouz is able to tune any location sound recording into a tuned, playable keyboard instrument. It is accompanied by visuals shot on location by international award winning film-maker Tuki Laumea, assisted by Junior Nanai. The sampled audio recordings have also been loosely arranged thematically and chronologically to the story of I’iga Pisa, one of the original ten ‘Mau a Pule’ Samoan “matai’s” (chiefs) who was exiled by the German government to Saipan in 1909, before he daringly voyaged solo across to Guam to further educate himself before returning back to Samoa many years later. He was the only surviving member of the original exiled group to witness Samoa’s Independence Day in 1962, a fitting story that coincidentally parallels the current plight of the indigenous Chamorro people of Guåhan/Guam who will soon be voting for their own independence. Resample Guåhan is currently showing at Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku (23 July-3 September).

  • INKED: Tyla Vaeau

    INKED: Tyla Vaeau

    Proving that girls can do it too, check out Tyla's awesome body art! Using her family as a canvas to hone her skills, check out Tyla and her awesome art, as she makes beautiful one of a kind pieces that relate to her family and their history! #GirlPower  



    OPETAIA FOA'I - FOUNDER OF TEVAKA, SONGWRITER, PRODUCER, SINGER, GUITARIST, PERCUSSIONIST Born in Samoa, and raised in New Zealand with parents from the small Islands of Tokelau and Tuvalu, Opetaia Foa’i is the creator, composer and front-man of “Te Vaka”. Over the last 20 plus years he has released 9 albums of original music, heavily influenced by the culture and traditions of Polynesia. He has toured with his group, Te Vaka (a talented group of musicians and dancers from across the South Pacific), to over 40 countries around the world telling the stories and sharing the culture of the South Pacific.  {{5810}} Described as “one of New Zealand’s finest songwriters” and “a true son of the Pacific”, Opetaia won the Senior Pacific Artist award in 2005 for his contribution to Pacific Arts. He has received numerous awards for his music and performing with Te Vaka has represented New Zealand and the South Pacific at Prestigious events all over the world, including the Beijing Olympics, Rugby World Cup in Paris and Commonwealth Games. In December 2013 Opetaia signed with Walt Disney Animation Studios as a songwriter for the musical animated feature film “Moana" (a movie set in Polynesia 2,000 years ago), working alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights) and Mark Mancina (The Lion King). Moana was released in the US on November 23rd 2016 to rave reviews, topping the Thanksgiving eve box office sales for 2016 and going on to be nominated for a number of awards, including 2 Oscars. {{5806}} Opetaia is currently working on a number of new projects along with preparing the band for performances around the world in 2017 and 2018. At the 2017 Vodafone Pacific Music Awards he was awarded the 'Special Recognition Award - Outstanding Achievement' after a very special opening tribute performance by SUPA (SaintzUP Performing Arts). {{5808}} Read more on Opetaia here & follow him on Facebook here 



    Nina Nawalowalo is a proud Fijian Stage Director and was recently awarded the Senior Pacific Artist Award worth $20,000 at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards. She is a theatre director with a reputation for making memorable pieces of theatre that reflect her Pacific culture and European theatre training – like the internationally acclaimed Vula and Masi, last year’s breakout success The White Guitar, and the more recent Marama.