Pacific Arts Aotearoa
An all-Pacific creative team is behind long awaited arts ‘bible’ bursting with talent.
How do you purpose a vā-va’a spaceship on the page to hold lifetimes of fatu mahi*.
The answer arrived on my desk, aptly brown-paper wrapped (such care, to the final detail).
I opened the package and pulled out a large purple hardback with a mandarin spine, my colleague quipped is that a bible?
He wasn’t necessarily wrong, there lay a moment distilled – six decades of Pacific artists rolled into one bonanza of a publication as decorative as your typical island living room. Make no mistake this book is a piece of art in itself, eye-catching golden pages call the reader to attention.
Edited by one of the brightest voices of her generation Lana Lopesi, with prodigy Faith Wilson as her right-hand-vahine-toa at Penguin Random House, the book pays homage to 120+ voices in Pacific arts in Aotearoa.
To realise such a vision took years of making, dreaming and unrelenting passion often in the face of racism and disparity - many Pacific artists have long endured poverty and this book is a testament to their relentless spirit.
Some of the artists honoured have sadly passed, while real-time flowers to a new wave of artists’ bloom hopeful.
“Bringing together the incredible voices in the pages was a constant reminder that the reverberations of Pacific creativity are wide-reaching, and sometimes unexpected,” says Lopesi.
“Weavers, tapa makers, sculptors, resisters, quilters and disruptors, all make up the texture of Pacific creativity. These artists are not asking to be included; they are here.”
Superstars of the Pacific arts world such as Albert Wendt and Fatu Feu’u are major features to the book alongside Tusiata Avia, Oscar Kightley, Lindah Lepou, Janet Lilo, Daren Kamali and Coco Solid.
Designed by Shaun Naufahu a special typeface was made especially for the book named Koloa Tuku, utilizing the manulua and creating a grid marking pattern.
From essays to stories to interviews and texts that move between reflection and projection – covering major social movements through creative expression we journey through the Dawn Raids, into the world of Pacific Sisters, and through to climate change activism and Fafswag fabulousness.
The brainchild of Creative New Zealand’s Pacific arts warrior Makerita Urale, her guiding hand shines through this project and in many ways – this is Urale’s career symphony, having personally supported and funded many of the artists included.
Foregoing her own artistic path for a life of tautua, Urale has hand-reared the sector to health – past survival to abundance. Her best work lies in the space between these pages: in quiet undying belief.
“This project began with our digital Pacific Arts Legacy Project, when Covid-19 first hit, and has now evolved to include many more voices of our Pacific arts community,” says Urale.
“Thank you and alofa to everyone who made this book a reality.”
Pacific Arts Aotearoa
Pre-order your copy of Pacific Arts Aotearoa edited by Lana Lopesi and published by Penguin in association with Pacific Arts, Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa as part of the Pacific Arts Legacy Project, an initiative under the Pacific Arts Strategy here RRP $65.00.
*work that's done from the heart.