Niu Life

NIU LIFE – Manukau’s Pacific People: A Photographic Narrative 

Co-ordinated by Otara visual artist Leilani Kake on behalf of Manukau Arts, Niu Life is an interactive community project that aims to reflect the people and achievements, events and celebrations of Manukau City’s large and rapidly growing Pacific Island communities.

Through photographs submitted by individuals, a chronological visual narrative is formed, affirming the emotional and generational bond that Pacific peoples have with Manukau City.

These photographs map tradition and change, people and places. Niu Life seeks to acknowledge the contributions Pacific peoples have made to Manukau City and is proudly supported by Manukau City Council’s Pacific Island Advisory Committee.

The logo was designed by Jacob Su’a and Leilani Kake and features: the Cook Island Tikitiki Tagata design, referencing the collective, the people; cameras and the iconic Corn Beef cans and jandals. The central form is the niu / coconut.

An excellent opening reception was held on Thursday 1 March 2007 at Mangere Arts Centre featuring delicious catering by John Oyagawa and beautiful music by The Cabin Bread Boys. Manukau City Councillor Su’a William Sio presented a moving opening speech, and the community came out in force. Feedback was all good and Leilani Kake did an excellent job working tirelessly to create a powerful and evocative visual outcome.

Out of almost 400 photographs submitted over two months, 262 were professionally scanned and reproduced to form the exhibition. With the earliest photo from 1955, Niu Life represents 50 years of Pacific histories in Manukau City spanning a 24 meter long wall space in the heart of one of the most concentrated Pacific Island communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, Mangere.


Leilani Kake & I with Fa’ama Viliamu, Co-ordinator of Manukau City Council’s Pacific Island Advisory Committee (PIAC), generous supporters of the Niu Life project (above) and with Otara Councillor and PIAC Co-Sponsor, Su’a William Sio (below).

The photographic narrative spans weddings, children and family, education, sports, work and enterprise, religion, ceremony, arts and remembrance. 

Niu Life premiered at Mangere Arts Centre from 1-24 March and will show again at Fresh Gallery Otara from 17 April – 12 May 2007.

More photos of Niu Life

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