Mereia, BLOOD + BONE series 2009 // Permanant marker on high visibility polyester vest

Luisa Tora with her portrait vest.

Very happy to have held my first solo exhibition // Photo by Luisa Tora.

Thank you so much Luisa, Leilani, Kesa and Kenneth, Melissa and Claire, Filani, Favaux, Carmel, ‘Ava, Marilyn, Le’ua, Ina, Ioka and Saolo, Lorna and Samantha, Linda T, Sam and Janet, Tanu, Czarina, Jim, Ioane, Nicole, Lorraine, Wiremu, David, Maila, Giles, Siliga and Luisa, Tessa L and Tessa K… vinaka vakalevu.

More photos from BLOOD + BONE here

FIJI TIMES // New Work by 5 Fiji Women Artists

FIJI TIMES is a group exhibition curated by Ema Tavola for Fiji Independance Day, October 10.

Inspired to make experimental artistic commentary on the current political climate of Fiji, five Fiji women artists have developed new works that tackle political [mis]leadership, faith and religion, censorship and militarism, propaganda, love, land and diaspora.

This exciting short exhibition is a continuation of the VASU: Pacific Women of Power exhibition staged in Suva in 2008. VASU was Fiji’s first platform for the promotion, celebration and discussion of art made by Fiji women.

FIJI TIMES will take place at a central Auckland artist-run-space called The Salon from 10-14 October, opening daily from 12-6pm. Artists will be on site and all are welcome to celebrate the exhibition’s opening from 6pm, Friday 9 October.

Notes // Art Talks // Auckland

Notes responding to Guest Lecture by Ema Tavola // University of Auckland
Information, videos, links and pictures

  1. Dravuni / Kadavu / Fiji
  2. Adi Nacola // Grasskirt Photography
  3. For the 2007 project, Picture This! facilitated by the Fiji Womens Rights Movement, Adi Nacola was commissioned to teach basic photography skills to young women to form an exhibition, selected works later featured in “The Real Fiji” at Mangere Arts Centre.

  4. sub urbia 2008
  5. sub urbia 2007
  6. My Polyfest 2008 photos
    Official ASB Polyfest website
  7. Raymond Sagapolutele // Manurewa-based brotographer // Rimoni Photography
    First solo exhibition, Honest?!?, Fresh Gallery Otara (2-24 October 2009)
  8. Shigeyuki Kihara
  9. What’s Going On? was a live art project by Leilani Kake + Ema Tavola, Fresh Gallery Otara (October 2006)
  10. Defining Sovereignty – a solo exhibition by Yazma Smith, Fresh Gallery Otara (February 2008)
  11. Maka Tu Taha featuring Samiu Napa’a and Kulimoe’anga Maka Stone, Fresh Gallery Otara (September 2007)
  12. Glenda Vilisoni recently featured in Pule Fakamotu, a group exhibition of Niuen artists, Artstation (October 2008)
  13. For Fiji, Ever Fiji – a group exhibition of Fiji women artists, Fresh Gallery Otara (January 2009)
    • Featuring The Homecoming, a short film by Luisa Tora
  14. BUY SPEND SAVE NOW – a collaborative installation by Shigeyuki Kihara, Leilani Salesa and Ema Tavola, Fresh Gallery Otara (March 2007), currently showing in Flower Power curated by Andrea Busto, Villa Giulia – CRAA Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale, Verbania, Italy (May-October 2009)
  15. From The Pacific, We Rise – a retrospective exhibition of the Kila Kokonut Krew, Fresh Gallery Otara (February 2008)
    • YouTube exhibition video
    • Vela Manusaute performing in AotearoHa!, New Zealand International Comedy Festival 2008
    • Interview on TVNZ’s Tagata Pasifika with Kila Kokonut Krew
    • “Dont Dutch” T shirt advert for Phat Islanders T-shirts. Starring Stacey Leilua, Ansley Tapuvae, Aleni Tufuga from the Kila Kokonut Krew. Music by JXN (Nafanua Records)
    • Online archive of KKK videos
  16. Pa is a 6 minute short film by Arnette Arapai & Boswell Haiosi (2006)
    Roy Head is 82 years old and is of Niuean and English descent. He moved to New Zealand in 1943 and has remained in Parnell, Auckland ever since. He talks candidly of his life here, work, and marriage. Pa is relevant to our Pacific Island people of today in terms of acknowledging and validating our elders – so much youth of today tend to look forward not concerned with the past, ignoring the fact that the past is all a part of who we are today. It’s a brief snippet of his story spoken in Niuean with English subtitles.Pa first appeared in Pollywood 5 (2007) curated by Craig Fasi for Auckland’s Media and Interdisciplinary Arts Centre and later in Nuku Tu Taha – a group exhibition of Niuean artists, Fresh Gallery Otara (October 2008)
  17. Koloa et al: Your Art is my Treasure featuring Mo’ui Aonga Tongan Cultural Centre (Otahuhu), curated by Charmaine Ilaiu and Nina Tonga, Fresh Gallery Otara (February 2008)
  18. South Style featuring Vinesh Kumaran, Ofa Mafi and Allen Vili, Fresh Gallery Otara (May 2009)
  19. MyFace – a solo exhibition by Janet Lilo, Fresh Gallery Otara (June 2009)\
  20. Urban Pacific Art in Aotearoa / New Zealand
    Panel discussion with Leilani Kake, Giles Peterson and Ema Tavola
    Developed for the Pacific Arts Association session at the 97th College Art Association conference, Los Angeles (February 2009)

  21. small axe 09 – a 47 minute collaborative video project produced by Janet Lilo in partnership with Ema Tavola for Artspace (September 2009)
  22. Fresh Gallery Otara on Pacific Beat Street (Episode 2, 28 March 2009)
    Fresh Gallery Otara | Context // Otara Market on Australia Network’s Pacific Pulse (22/06/09)
  23. Siliga David Setoga

Some extra goodness…

Nesian 101 by Nesian Mystik
I love this song, these gang have great energy and I love Brother Love, but the dancing is..  forced.. if you go to any freshy club in Auckland on a Thursday or Saturday night, you find this abundance of raw dancefloor confidence and beautiful brown bodies and the dancefloor is electric! None of this skinny-leg-too-much make-up-choreography… icks!

The next Festival of Pacific Arts will be in the Solomon Islands in 2012 – can’t wait!!
I had a great time in 2004 in Palau, and last year in Pago Pago where I had the opportunity to be part of the New Zealand delegation… it was a trip!

Sinalela, a short film by Dan Taulapapa McMullin
Dan is a California based painter / poet / film maker / writer. He developed a body of new work for a solo exhibition, Missionary Positions – An Illustrated History of American Samoa whilst in Pago Pago for the 10th Festival of Pacific Art. Showing initially at Fresh Gallery Otara in August 2008, the works went on to be shown and sold at Auckland’s O’Kaioceanikart. Dan was interviewed by Samoan writer Sia Figiel in a recent article in Art & Australia magazine.

Good Hair trailer.
Developing the work, small axe 09 for Artspace, research led us to find Chris Rock’s soon to be released in New Zealand documentary, Good Hair.

Happy Birthday VASU!

Editor / Curator Luisa Tora

TODAY is the first anniversary of the monumental exhibition project, VASU: Pacific Women of Power curated by Jakki Leota-Ete, Cresentia F. Koya, Ann Tarte and Luisa Tora. It opened initially at the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific, and then was re-installed at the Fiji Museum.

The excellent exhibition catalogue has been purchased by Manukau Libraries and is now available in the Pacific collections of the following libraries: Clendon, Mangere East, Mangere Town Centre, Manurewa, Otara, Papatoetoe and Tupu Youth Library.

A limited number of catalogues will be for sale at the upcoming exhibition FIJI TIMES at The Salon, Level 1, St Kevins Arcade, Karangahape Road, Auckland City from 10-14 October. The exhibition features recent and experimental works by Margaret Aull, Filani Macassey, Sangeeta Singh, Salote Tawale, Luisa Tora and Torika Bolatagici Vetuna.

Artist / Contributing Writer Ema Tavola

More about VASU: Pacific Women of Power and photos from the exhibition.



Curated by Ema Tavola // Talk Week // 26-29 May 2009

What’s this all about?
I’m a postgraduate student at the School of Art and Design developing my visual arts practise in curatorship; using other peoples’ work to create collective statements about Pacific-ness. I work with Pacific artists mostly. I’m interested in Pacific art being accessible to wide audiences.

Why have I chosen these artists?
They are fierce, clever, confronting and skilled.
It’s a tasty mix of gender, power/struggle, popular culture and cleverness.
These three artists are reflective of social / political / economical / spiritual / cultural traits of Pacific people living in urban New Zealand.

Why these locations?
They’re public and somewhat relevant.

Anything else?
I work with Pacific artists mostly, because I’m interested in what contemporary Pacific art says about modern Pacific island realities. I’m interested in public feedback.

Ema Tavola
May 2009


1) Creative Industries Research Institute window, 34 St Paul Street // Angela Tiatia
2) Bennett’s Bookshop window, AUT Hikuwai Plaza // Allen Vili
3) Rectangle Box, Governor Fitzroy Place // Siliga Setoga

SEE (2008) // Angela Tiatia
Creative Industries Research Institution window // 34 St Paul Street

This work was first exhibited in Pan Pacific Nation at The Arts at Marks Garage, Honolulu, Hawai’i in March 2009. The silent, slow-motion single shot video reflects on issues of gender politics, power and struggle, and fish as symbolic of the centrality of the ocean for Pacific islanders.

Angela Tiatia is an Auckland-based Samoan performance video installation artist currently studying at AUT Art and Design.

See (2008)
Single channel DVD, duration 3.28 mins
Angela Tiatia

BEBO WHITEBOARD ART VOLUME 1 (2006)  // Allen Vili aka Onesian
Single channel DVD, duration 10 mins
Bennett’s Bookshop window // AUT Hikuwai Plaza

This video documents the making of whiteboard drawings using the FFART flash interface on

Allen Vili is a south Auckland-based Samoan / Māori graphic designer behind the Onesian brand of Bebo skins, t-shirt design and custom-made hoodies.

Rectangle Box // Governor Fitzroy Place

This work was first exhibited in Pan Pacific Nation at The Arts at Marks Garage, Honolulu, Hawai’i in March 2009.

Siliga Setoga is an Auckland-based Samoan graphic designer behind the streetwear label Popo Hardwear, available at the Otara market.

Pan Pacific Brand – Landscapes + Portaits (2009)
Series of 24 prints on Kodak photo paper
Siliga Setoga

Pacific Art Tour 09: California + Hawaii

Pacific Art goes worldwide, photo courtesy of Manukau Courier

Leilani Kake and I have returned from an amazing Pacific Art Tour of California and Hawai’i made possible with the support of Manukau City Council, Creative New Zealand (Leilani was funded by the Pacific Arts Committee), the US Embassy and Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust in addition funds raised from the sale of Colour Me Fiji T-shirts and Otara Hot Nights!

We were invited by the Pacific Arts Association to present a panel discussion with independent Auckland cuator, Giles Peterson called Urban Pacific Art in Aotearoa at the 97th College Art Association Conference in Los Angeles. We also spoke at UC Santa Cruz upon the invitation of Dr Stacy Kamehiro and UC Berkeley at the Center for Race and Gender thanks to Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu who coordinates the Pacific Island Studies Speaker Series.

Research Working Group on Pacific Island Studies
Center for Race and Gender, UC Berkeley
Friday 20 February

We were beautifully hosted in San Francisco by Christina Hellmich and her family. Christina is curator of Oceanic Arts and the Jolika Collection at the de Young Museum. Her curatorial assistants, Marion Cadora and Lauren Cassidy Rogers were also hugely supportive and very cool.

Leilani presented a performance work at the de Young Museum on Friday 20 February.
It was outstanding.

Visiting SFMOMA, LACMA, MOCA and the Getty Center was absolutely inspiring. Although the Gauguin work, Arii Matamoe (The Royal End) at the Getty was quite disturbing.

In LA, Leilani and I were given first hand gallery tours by gallerist Chuck Feesago who co-owns Project_210 in Pasadena and California-based American Samoan painter, Dan Taulapapa McMullin as well as Yoshimi Hayashi who we met at the CAA – he took for an amazing lunch and then to Chinatown after an amazing walk around the Frank Gehry designed Disney Concert Hall!

We ended our tour in Honolulu for the opening of Pan Pacific Nation, curated by Jaimey Hamilton for the Arts at Marks Garage. The exhibition features work by eight New Zealand based Pacific artists and three local Hawaiian artists; the show was beautifully installed and the opening on First Friday was fantastic. We connected with amazing artists and thinkers in Honolulu and spent an incresible day at the Hawaiian Studies department of the University of Hawaii, which was again truly inspiring.

Back row: Ema Tavola, Rich Richardson (ARTS at Marks Garage), Giles Peterson
Front: Carl Pao, Leilani Kake, Jaimey Hamilton, Noelle Kahanu, Healoha and Angela Tiatia
First Friday, March 2009

A more detailed summary of the tour will be posted soon.

A video is being produced and will also be posted soon!

Leilani and I will also be doing a show + tell at Fresh Gallery Otara in the coming weeks!