Hand-made Media

I often tire of trying to get [mainstream] media makers to recognise the importance of the artists and exhibitions that take place at Fresh Gallery Otara. For example, in six years of operation, the nationally funded Pacific Island affairs television programme, Tagata Pasifika, has done less than five stories on Pacific artists and events at Fresh.

In 2011, I collaborated with Tanu Gago to make a series of videos about Pacific artists and exhibitions; we started to make our own media. I’m really proud of what Tanu has created and will be making more in 2012. Here’s a video he made on Angela Tiatia’s 2011 exhibition, Foreign Objects

FMC VXN

South Auckland’s own FMC VXN has launched her debut music video for SOS (Sound of the Streets), a dream project realised after winning the Hustle It Fresh talent contest televised in 2011 on TVNZ’s Polynesian youth show, Fresh.

FMC VXN performed at Fresh Gallery Otara’s WHITE NIGHT event, part of the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival and again at the NiuFM Grassroots Mixer concert, part of the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit (below).

FMC VXN has been part of the Fresh Gallery Otara community since the gallery was established in 2006, mostly via her sister, Leilani Kake. Leilani directed the music video for SOS (Sound of the Streets) with Tanu Gago; it was an awesome project to be part of various capacities.

Go FMC VXN Go!!

I don’t wanna talk about it

"For the good times" (2011), Acrylic on canvas, 1500x1500mm by Molly Rangiwai-McHale

I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT

A solo exhibition by Molly Rangiwai-McHale

Fresh Gallery Otara

27 January – 25 February 2012

OPENING:  6pm – 8pm, Thursday 26 January

ARTIST TALK: 12pm – 2pm, Saturday 11 February

 I don’t wanna talk about it is a series of portraits of people who have been/are a part of my life, some for a moment, others years. They mark interactions that have changed the person I am and represent people that I’ve leant from and the wisdom we’ve shared. Being witness to them, sharing experiences outside of the spoken word, sharing time however long or short… just being included in their lives has taught me invaluable truths. They have not necessarily always been lessons I’ve wanted to learn, but which I have benefited from all the same and have become stronger because of it. They are paintings of people I love/d (and people I just think are effing cool).”

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds – A solo exhibition by Leilani Kake
Curated by Ema Tavola for the Auckland Arts Festival
Fresh Gallery Otara
South Auckland
Aotearoa New Zealand
4 March – 16 April 2011

Women, Water and the Moon

Fresh Gallery Otara is a community gallery in the Otara Town Centre, frequented by children, students, artists and the elderly. It has a mandate to reflect life in Otara, to engage audiences and stimulate discussion.

Leilani Kake is a member of the Otara community; an educator, mother, artist – a staunch ambassador for the Southside. Armed with strong cultural foundations and a firm foothold in a South Auckland / South Pacific reality, her four-channel video installation bravely confronts the cultural taboo of nudity. Whilst mass media imagery of women’s bodies floods our visual landscape, public displays of female nudity in a community context has the potential to inspire controversy and discomfort.

Inspired by the disproportionate statistics of preventable cervical and breast cancer amongst Māori and Pacific women, the artist invites viewers to consider the body and how we perceive it. And further, to consider that relationship in relation to our wellbeing as a community.

Enveloped in the watery darkness of this work, we are alone with our thoughts. The work’s four walls represent four pou, four stages of womanhood. In the watery darkness, the balance between the women, the water and the moon is in constant flux. As viewers, we are the centre of the gaze – confronted and surrounded, fluctuating between comfort and discomfort.

This work delivers the impact typical of Kake’s practice, speaking to the human condition, universal and primitive, and simultaneously to the special cultural context of indigenous women of the Pacific region.

Known for her emotional, performance-based practice referencing ritual and tradition, family and relationships, Kake’s visual language encourages her community to engage with issues affecting them. Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds exposes the inextricable links joining Polynesian femininity to power, religion, sexuality and privacy.

In terms of scale and content, this is the most significant exhibition ever produced for Fresh Gallery Otara. Kake has been part of the Gallery’s community since it opened in 2006. She has been educated and trained in Otara and continues to live and work here. It is perhaps the most appropriate exhibition for us to present in the regional Auckland Arts Festival programme, to represent the site-specific curatorial approach that has been fostered here.

We are hugely grateful for the opportunity to present this exhibition for the Auckland Arts Festival, and for the significant support from Manukau Institute of Technology Department of Creative Arts and Toi o Manukau. The support from my colleagues in Arts and Culture South, Auckland Council, have made this project a reality; thank you so much.

Ema Tavola
Pacific Arts Coordinator
Auckland Council South

Hand Made Exhibition // DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND

DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND was a user-generated drawing installation that was developed at Fresh Gallery Otara over three weeks in November 2010. The gallery’s community was invited to make drawings to be part of a constantly evolving mural-in-pieces. It stands as a fascinating insight into the lives and times of the community surrounding Fresh Gallery Otara. Over 400 drawings were made with over 300 installed on the Gallery’s walls. Censorship applied to explicit gang associated and/or pornographic/offensive imagery and tagging.

Some of my favourite drawings:


This is one of many drawings by Fa’a, he’s 11 years old and goes to St John The Evangelist School in Otara.


Unknown artist.


Tanu Gago contributed some Jerry The Fa’afafine


Unknown artist.

Click here for a full album of photographic documentation of DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND

Click here to follow Fresh Gallery Otara on Twitter

Leilani Kake + Tanu Gago // Tagata Pasifika

TVNZ’s weekly Pacific Island affairs programme, Tagata Pasifika aired this story about two artists I work closely with, Leilani Kake and Tanu Gago on 18 November 2010. At the time, Leilani was showing her 2010 video work, Kia Ora 2 Kia Orana in manu toi; artists and messengers curated by Nigel Borell for Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku, and Tanu’s solo, YOU LOVE MY FRESH was showing at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Pakuranga.

YOU LOVE MY FRESH has been extended one week and now will be shown until 12 December 2010.

Next year, Tanu is involved in a group exhibition curated by Reuben Friend for Deane Gallery, City Gallery Wellington opening in January. I am curating Leilani’s next solo exhibition, Nga Hau E Wha – The Four Winds – a four-channel video installation at Fresh Gallery Otara for the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival in March.

Leilani and I are trying to generate funds to participate in the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania Symposium in Hawai’i in February. We have proposed to discuss the construction and context of Nga Hau E Wha – The Four Winds in a session entitled, Refashioning the Body: Building Critical Theory Across the Pacific. A 2011 Colour Me Fiji fundraising T-shirt is in production!

Thinking of Luse

Luse Nemani at the opening of "Maka Tu'u Taha" at Fresh Gallery Otara (2007)

At age 81, Lusefamanatu (Luse) Nemani passed away on Friday 13 August in Otara. Luse has been one of our biggest supporters at Fresh Gallery Otara, having seen just about every show since we opened in May 2006. Luse was a member of the original Pasifika Arts o Manukau Trust, the organisation that was behind the creation of my role as Pacific Arts Coordinator for Manukau City Council. She was a Tongan warden for the Otara Town Centre and involved in so many initiatives and projects.

Luse has been a comforting friend and advisor to me, giving me insight into her mixed cultural heritage of Tongan and Niuean, her migration and life in Otara. I always appreciated her warmth and interest in my life. She made the most beautiful garlands/lei out of recycled sheet plastic, and knitted so many people warm winter scarves; we sold her lei and crochet work in the 2006 and 2007 ‘Under $100 Art Sale’ exhibitions and she was involved in our first anniversary exhibition, Fresh Gallery Otara Turns 1!


I loved when Luse would sing; she was always intending to record an album of songs in Niuean, Tongan, Fijian and English at Otara Music Arts Centre. I wish she did. She had the softest, most beautiful voice that reminded me of old Hawaiian love songs.

I’m happy that in the past two years, Fresh Gallery Otara hosted two Tongan exhibitions that Luse loved. In February 2009, Koloa et al: Your Art is my Treasure curated by Charmaine ‘Ilaiu and Nina Tonga showcased the Tongan artforms of weaving and backcloth design. In April 2010, Tongan Style curated by Manuēsina Mahina and Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai profiled the work of five Tongan women working in the mediums of embroidery, crochet, garment construction and church fashion.

Luse didn’t mind contemporary art, but always loved when the references to customary practice were recognisable. Her readings of paintings by Kulimoe’anga Maka and Samiu Napa’a, and sculptures by Visesio Siasau and Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi, always gave us food for thought.

I miss Luse already. I will always remember her warmth and love, her generosity and insight, her cheekiness, and how she loved hearing Tongan songs sung when we would have a kava band playing at Fresh Gallery Otara openings. Her service to the Otara community sets the bar so high, and I know her passing will be felt by so many people whose lives she touched.

‘Ofa lahi atu, Luse.

(K)IWI Notion of a Nation

Photo: NEIL DUDDY - Manukau Courier

Exhibition tells artist’s story

By JESSIE COLQUHOUN – Manukau Courier

In 2004 Don Brash’s Kiwi/iwi election billboards sparked controversy. But they also fired up the imagination of a young south Auckland arts student.

Of Pakeha and Ngati Maniapoto (Tainui) descent Reuben Friend explores the notion of nationality in a new exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara.

(K)IWI – Notion of a Nation aims to highlight some of the tensions that exist between the cultures.

“My work is not just about my story, it’s the story of all of my family and how I identify with being Maori and Pakeha,” he says.

“It doesn’t try and reconcile events of the past, it just helps me to form where I came from.”

The series of six paintings are red, white and black and have an image covered in a kowhaiwhai pattern of repeating koru.

“I’ve had people ask me ‘What is the dominant image – the kowhaiwhai or the other image?’, he says.

“When people look at me it’s the same – what’s dominant? Maori or Pakeha? It’s neither – I’m both.”

The exhibition is the outcome of Mr Friend’s work on his masters degree in Maori visual arts from Massey University.

He paints in the evenings and weekends and by day works as the curator of Maori and Pacific arts at the Wellington City Art Gallery.

Now based in the Wairarapa, Mr Friend grew up in Otara and Mangere Bridge.

He says he wanted to bring his work back to south Auckland so it would be accessible to the Maori and Pacific community.

“It’s really cool to bring it home to where I grew up.”

(K)IWI – Notion of a Nation is on at Fresh Gallery Otara until Saturday 13 February.

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Find Reuben Friend here: www.ReubenFriend.com