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sione monū

creative magnetism

it’s not a simple life it’s a natural one, 2017. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

Beauty is in the Street. (Photo credit: Kaycie O'Connor)


ione Monū is a multi-disciplinary artist of Tongan descent whose creative magnetism is present throughout his catalogue of work and the audiences he attracts. Born in Aotearoa but raised in Australia, Sione bares a keen insight into the world around him as influenced by his upbringing, the diaspora, and the art he is constantly consuming. Graduating with a diploma in fine arts from Campbelltown Tafe, Sydney in 2014, Sione made his exhibition debut in U Can’t Touch This curated by Ema Tavola as a part of her 2015 PIMPI Winter Series. Working between illustration, paint, photography, sculpture, adornments, and activations, each medium he explores serves to expand upon his social and cultural trajectory. As such, his practice is actively evolving in response to his new experiences and self-discoveries. A major component of Sione’s practice is his

in him becoming a member of the FAFSWAG arts collective in 2016. Sione is also a member of the trio WITCH BITCH, a sub-collective including FAFSWAG co-members Pati Solomona Tyrell and myself, where he partakes in the ritualistic activating of space. The activation of space is one constituted by the Pacific concept of Vā, which is intrinsic to Sione’s practice.

Instagram profile (@sione93) which currently has 1400+ followers and is his primary platform for the candid documentation of his personal life and the art created as a result. Through Instagram, he garners attention from curators and artists alike, which is what would eventuate

Living in diaspora, Sione’s access to his culture is heavily linked to his art. From his exploration of ancient Tongan spirituality to his creation of kahoa (necklaces/garlands) and illustrations of notable Tongan figures, he is constantly rebutting the notion of cultural quantifiability. Being detached from most Tongan communities in his youth, Sione has developed a unique approach to Nimamea’a Tuikakala (fine art of flower-designing). His contemporary approach to the traditional artform counts as a beautiful

Rosylyn Monū, 2017, Sione Monū. (Photo credit: Sione Monū)

contribution to the talanoa surrounding the emergence of Tongan fine arts in Aotearoa. Sione Monū has since exhibited works in several group exhibitions, some including – G.G Talk That Talk, Fresh Gallery Ōtara, Auckland, 2016; BEAUTY IS IN THE STREET, Object Space, 2016; Feathers of the Sun (WITCH BITCH), Studio One: Toi Tū, Auckland,

#blanketcouture self portrait, 2016. (Photo credit: Sione Monū)

2016; Making Space, Centre of Contemporary Art, Christchurch, 2017; Po’uli’uli (WITCH BITCH), West Space, Melbourne, 2017; I like reality, it doesn’t terrify me, Musee du Bijou Contemporain – Escape Solidor, Cagnes-sur-Mer, 2017; lei-pā, ST PAUL Street Gallery, Auckland, 2017; Dirt Future, Art Space, Auckland, 2017; SOCIAL MATTER, RM Gallery, Auckland, 2017; The Cold Islanders, Waikato Museum, Hamilton,

2017. Sione, alongside WITCH BITCH opened their solo exhibition Statuesque Anarchy in March of 2017 at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington. His debut solo exhibition Kahoa Kakala also opened August of 2017 at Fresh Gallery Ōtara, Auckland. Manu Vaea Artist


tautai news Mālō e lelei


had thought we might have had a quieter three months, but as I look back on the last quarter now maybe it was not as quiet as I had thought. Our new office space continues to be used for a number of different purposes and has a procession of visitors, which is great. We have enjoyed having artwork by Jean Clarkson in the foyer space and look forward to having a changing rotation of artists showing their work. Also in the office for five Wednesday evenings during August/September we held ‘The Business of Art’ professional development workshops for artists. These workshops are proving to be popular and we are grateful to the presenters who have very generously shared their knowledge. Together with Artspace, in early July we hosted the launch of Black Marks on the White Page. This beautifully produced book of short stories by Māori and Pacific writers has been edited by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti. I hope you have been able to see and read a copy. Later that same week we welcomed Janet Lilo’s lightboxes on to Karangahape Road, hopefully you have seen them in all their bright yellow banana glory! At the beginning of August we held our Annual General Meeting in the Tautai office and the formal business

included the election of trustees. Nina Tonga and Siliga Setoga will continue as the co-chairs and with Janet Lilo, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Ron Brownson, and John Gandy comprise the current board. Colin Jeffery continues to be the Secretary/Treasurer for the Board. We are grateful to them all for the work they put in to Tautai and for their support and guidance of the organisation. At the end of August Rose Dunn hosted a Fetu Ta’i evening in the office so Jasmine Te Hira could explain and show this group of special supporters where she has reached with setting up the Tautai Archive and Oral History Library. A great deal of progress has been made with this initiative and we are looking forward to being able to share these very important Taonga with you before the end of this year. It is always a joy to partner with other organisations on projects and in the last few months we have been able to do more of that in small ways. CoCA (Centre of Contemporary Art Christchurch) organised a vast and exciting public program that Tautai was pleased to be able to contribute to. Leafa Wilson curated the exhibition Cold Islanders at the Waikato Art Museum in Hamilton and we were pleased to assist with that, and we have also worked with the British Council on a research project.

Our Tautai Fresh Horizons series of workshops for secondary school students have for some time now been hosted by tertiary institutions through our relationships with them. In July the three day workshops were held at BOP Polytech Toi-Ohomai in Tauranga and at Eastlands Polytech in Taradale, and in September the fourth Fresh Horizons for this year was held at AUT Auckland City Campus. In hosting these workshops the institutions are able to introduce their facilities to the Pacific secondary students and they and their families can see something of the future education opportunities. Our next door neighbours Artspace are hosting our annual OFFSTAGE event which this year will be up for an extended period of five weeks through September/ October. All of these projects plus many others are very important partnerships which allow us all to share resources, expand our networks and audiences, provide opportunities, and generally get Pacific art and artists seen! Thank you to all who contribute, share, partner, encourage, support – and make fabulous art. Mālō ‘aupito Christina

haroro from new york via honolulu F

or the past six months, I have been residing in one of the greatest cities in the world, NYC, as a Chester Dale Fellow in one of the largest Museums in the world The MET, where I have been researching Pacific collections and encouraging new and positive ways to engage with our cultural belongings that have found homes so far from the Moana.

One of my highlights was participating in the Smithsonian Asia Pacific America Institute culture lab ‘Ae Kai, in Honolulu. It was a three-day pop up exhibition featuring 50 artists, activists, cultural practitioners, poets and musicians. An incredible experience that pushed many boundaries both artistic and relational.

Fa’amu’umu’umamatane aka Tropic Thunder customised Military jackets for ‘Ae Kai acti.VA.tion. (Photo credit: Adriel Luis)

Our cultural treasures do not just spend time in boxes or behind glass cases, we are alive and kicking as the ancestors of the now, representing as a living culture, circulating ‘Nesian arts and culture around the globe. We are the museums. Rosanna Raymond Artist

Backhand Maiden Acti.VA.tion MET Galleries.

Ro and Ro(n)go Artist intervention MET. (Photo credit: Salvador Brown)

(Photo credit: Pelenakeke Brown)

lei-pā - curating from the stomach I

didn’t know much about the exhibition curated by Lana Lopesi and Ahilapalapa Rands in the early lead up. What I did know was that the title, was enough to stir something deep within my belly. Like many first-generation Aotearoa-born children of migrant parents, we know what hard labour looks like because we saw every day when our parents walked through the door exhausted from physically demanding jobs. Although that particular narrative isn’t evident in the artworks, I feel like its definitely part of the nuanced and complex storytelling that is able to unfold throughout the exhibition that focuses on food as a signifier of the relationships of indigenous communities and Asian labour migrants. We all know how important food is in our communities, you know the rules: eat what is given to you when at a guests house and never let anyone go home hungry (or empty handed if you can help it!). What comes to mind often while in the gallery is Manulani Meyers’ writing on indigenous epistemologies. She talks about the connection

LI Jinghu, Today’s Screening, 2014. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

between the body and mind, knowledge is embodied and held in the na’au (stomach) which the Hawaiian word for wisdom is also derived from – na’auao. What I find special and empowering about lei-pa is that it highlights that there is so much power in those gestures and ways of being that make up

who we are as indigenous people, and how we form relationships with people around us. It’s an exhibition that’s curated from the stomach rather than from the brain. Louisa Afoa Artist

Kerry Anne Lee, Same but different, 2017. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

Salome Tanuvasa, Home, 2017. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

Whanau zone and Vaimaila Urale, Koko & Taufolo, 2009. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

tāngaengae 2 September – 19 November 2017 Robert George: A MEMOIR FOR FALLING LIGHT Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery


n a poetic sense, the process of incubating a work for a period of time and releasing it to whānau, friends and the public, can feel like the process of giving birth. Physical exhaustion, fatigue and labour can at times parallel the beauty it is to share and unpack the layered human experience of life with others. After several ‘sermon’ like dialogues with Robert George about his perspectives on indigenous filmmaking over the past five months, a small and talented team was drawn together to collaborate for his film, A MEMOIR FOR FALLING LIGHT. However, this work has been a longer journey for Rob and his whānau after losing their father to illness in recent years. Recorded over several journals, the artist’s personal experience of looking after his father through the final stages of illness forms the foundation of an intimate father-son dynamic played in plurality and through cascading collapsing time over a fivescreen install. The process in making visuals for these ‘survival journals’ as Rob shared was through the methodology of compression and breath. While the rhythm of the work was brought to life by each of the collaborators who embodied their own personal narratives of loss and grief, with many stories shared on set before a scene was recorded. Each take was an endurance piece of its own often taking place between 3-5mins, an unconventional

standard to commercial western formats of filming and aligning to aspects of liminality. This also included the absence of a script on set, a process that allowed for our own accumulative forums of agile storytelling. Our occupation of particular filming locations also relates to a wider discourse of memory and dislocation for our Pasifika and Māori communities – the home and hospital sites being located in the wider now gentrified areas of Dominion Road and Mount Albert. Personal heirlooms also fill the landscape of the film, with tivaevae and tūpuna portraits enclosing the fragmented memory loops the film sought to capture. As an installation, the film will incorporate many aspects of the domestic,

peripheral vision, experimental soundscapes and its ability to be viewed as a sonic painting, washing the surrounding walls with light. Just as we cut the umbilical cord and take the placenta back to the whenua, it is that as artists, we privilege a multitude of viewpoints about life and death in our work and bring it back to the communities who sustain us. It has been awesome to work with everyone on this project. From all of us who worked on this film, we hope you can connect, kia manuia!

On the set of A MEMOIR FOR FALLING LIGHT. (Photo credit: Jasmine Te Hira)

On the set of A MEMOIR FOR FALLING LIGHT. (Photo credit: Jasmine Te Hira)

Jasmine Te Hira Artist

showtime: islanders playing the islander in ranterstantrum “The lone brownie at the ball and so I become the voice and the face of Polynesians, by default. Spokesperson and dartboard all in one.”


’m sitting in the back row, on the closing night of the play Ranterstantrum written by Victor Rodger. I’d previously attended a reading of this play but was still confronted by the potency of its themes and finely crafted writing. Up until that point, plays I’d seen which were written by Pacific playwrights were ‘happy, happy, joy, joy,’ punctuated with moments of heightened emotion that draw on familiar pressure points; from migration stories to family dysfunction, but they almost always end on a redemptive note. Not this play.

Its title is a portmanteau of the words ‘ranters’ and ‘tantrum’- apt descriptors of a play that provokes a spectrum of anger. The main protagonist, Joe, is a Samoan actor who arrives at a pālagi dinner party and is mistaken as an intruder. What ensues are multiple, and often, conflicting commentaries on race-relations in Aotearoa. What I found most compelling was that, at no point was I entirely convinced by, or able to side with, any of the characters. One moment, I wanted to leap from the crowd and punch Lee as she spat racist slants at Joe. But did her ambiguous experience with rape exempt her behaviour? And was Joe’s insensitivity to her experience justified? I mean, Lee and her partner did just tie him up and put a knife to his throat. And yet, it took this horrific experience for Joe to come down from the echelons of his Ponsonby mooring to learn to speak Samoan from his aunt in South Auckland, so that he can become a ‘real’ Islander. And yet, it’s still not that simple. The scene progression is akin to a series of filmic montages that don’t necessarily follow a linear momentum. Instead, they are framed within two key moments, that is, the opening and ending scenes. Joe appears at the opening and ending of the play, where he gets dressed in black clothing and dons a black balaclava. In the opening scene, he is getting ready to act in a play where, ironically, he plays an Island intruder. "Show time", he says with a smile. And as the play culminates, he prepares once more to play up the Island stereotype for the audience. The level of mimicry in these scenes reveals Joe’s awakening, that the costume is no longer a type of camouflage of which he can step in and out of. Playing ‘the Islander’ is no longer a matter of survival or a cultural tactic- it is a form of assimilation. Complicated, political and messy but definitely one for the books. Malie Victor. Ane Tonga Artist and Curator Ranterstrantrum cast. (Photo credit: Raymond Sagapolutele)

we all win together I

studied the work of Andy Leleisi’uao in a Pacific Art History paper taught by Nina Tonga during my time at The University of Auckland. I was automatically captivated by his bravery and astute social commentary through paint. Earlier this month, we heard the great news, that Andy Leleisi'uao is the paramount winner of the 26th annual Wallace Art Awards. The Wallace Art Awards are New Zealand's longest running and largest contemporary art awards and Andy’s prize is a six-month residency in New York. Andy commented to the New Zealand Herald, that his win “wasn't just a victory for him, but for all Pasifika artists”. I for one, completely agree with that sentiment.

Our visual contribution and presence has grown. I love it! With that our responsibility has grown also towards our people in defining and remembering who we are during our time in this life.

Q. We’ve had two Pacific winners of the Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award in three years, which is so exciting. How have you noticed things change for Pacific artists during your career?

I’m not sure yet what I'm doing in New York but I have to be ready when intuition, curiosity and inspiration kick in.

Q. Your work, Harmonic People won the Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award, can you tell us about that work? Harmonic People reflects a world I visit when I need stability. It follows on from the Homonoia People currently exhibiting at PG 192 Gallery in Christchurch and is about like-minded people who strive together in creating a community they want to be a part of. Q. What do you plan to do on your residency?

Q. You have a show coming at Fresh Gallery Ōtara too, can you tell us about that? Benjamin Work and I have an exhibition Return to Havaiki/UFO Islands, at Bergman Gallery (Rarotonga), October 9 until November 30 and Sir James Wallace will be our special guest. Later in October, I have an exhibition at Fresh Gallery Ōtara named An Unlovely Sorry and it dwells on the issues of child neglect. Q. What advice do you have for young Pacific artists? Be fearless but respectful. Be proud but gracious. Be brave and supportive. Be creative and imaginative. Nurture your family, work and friends.

Andy Leleisi'uao and his work Harmonic People at the Wallace Arts Trust Awards. (Photo credit: Dean Purcell)

Black Saturday commemorative walk, 2016. (Photo credit: Raymond Sagapolutele)

Lana Lopesi Editor and Writer

Team Tautai:

Patron: Fatu Feu’u Board of Trustees: Nina Tonga and Siliga David Setoga (co-chairs), Ron Brownson, John Gandy, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Janet Lilo

Treasurer/Secretary: Colin Jeffery

Christina Jeffery (Manager), Petrina Togi-Sa’ena (Program Leader), Tina Pihema (Arts Administrator), Robert George (Digital Media), Pascal Bridger (Tertiary Liaison Auckland), Etanah Lalau-Fuimaono (Tertiary Liaison Wellington) Lana Lopesi (Newsletter Co-ordinator)

PO Box 68 339, Wellesley Street West, Auckland, 1010 Phone: 09-376 1665 Tautai Office: Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Auckland Email: Website:



Salome Tanuvasa, Morning evening, 2017, single channel video, 3:03 min at Enjoy Gallery. (Photo credit: Shaun Matthews)

Salome Tanuvasa, Wall drawing, 2017; Morning evening, 2017, single channel video, 3:03 min; Drawing thoughts, 2017 at Enjoy Gallery. (Photo credit: Shaun Matthews)

Christina Pataialii, from left to right: Bite Fight – Mike Tyson; California Love – 2Pac; Black or White – Michael Jackson; My Cousin – Dwayne Johnson; Islands in the Stream – Kenny Rogers on view in the exhibition The Tomorrow People, Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, 22 July – 1 October 2017. (Photo credit: Shaun Matthews)

Louisa Afoa at the opening of Orion at Corban Estate Arts Centre. (Photo credit: Corban Estate Arts Centre)

Dirt Future Sione Monū. Untitled Mana Woman #1 (2017) Untitled Mana Woman #2 (2017) Untitled Mana Woman #3 (2017) Untitled Mana Woman #4 (2017) at Artspace. All pastel on paper. (Photo credit: Artspace)

Ali Foa'i in Thirsty at The Basement Theatre. (Photo credit: The Basement)


Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust receives major public funding from Creative New Zealand and also receives significant funding from Foundation North and generous support from our Fetu Ta’i donors Rose and John Dunn, Adrian Burr, Philippa Archibald, Art + Object, Ema Aitken and David Galler, Kriselle Baker and Richard Douglas, Phif and Grant Bettjeman, Rosie Brown and Graham Wall, Sherry and Gary Butler, Jenny and Rick Carlyon, Joanna and John Chaplin, Chartwell Trust, Angela and Mark Clatworthy, Annie Coney, Christine Fenby and Greg Gaylor, Virginia and Stephen Fisher, Antonia Fisher and Stuart Grieve, Friedlander Foundation, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Jo and Terry Gould, Jo and John Gow, Josephine and Ross Green, Cathy and Michael Hapgood, Anne and Peter Hinton, Sally and Peter Jackson, Dayle and Chris Mace, Geri and Richard Martin, Kathy and Bill Peake, Rei Foundation, Fran and Geoff Ricketts, Jenny and Andrew Smith, Madelene Strong, Fran Wyborn

Tautai Newsletter September 2017  

Tautai Newsletter September 2017

Tautai Newsletter September 2017  

Tautai Newsletter September 2017