Tongan artists arrive in New Zealand

Six Tongan artists have visited New Zealand this week as part of a cultural exchange to share their knowledge of heritage arts and celebrate the close ties between the people of Tonga and New Zealand.

The artists will participate in a free public programme of workshops, demonstrations and talks at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. They will also take a tour of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and meet with local Māori and Pacific artists to exchange cultural knowledge.

The week-long programme begins on Saturday 19 October at Mangere Arts Centre with a ‘Tongan heritage arts and community day’, celebrating with local community groups and artists.

“We have a large Tongan community in Aotearoa, and this exchange recognises and celebrates the special relationship between Tonga and New Zealand,” says Cath Cardiff, Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager Arts Policy, Capability and International.

“Creative New Zealand aims to support the preservation of Pacific heritage arts in New Zealand and we are grateful for the support of the three leading venues that are helping to facilitate this programme.”

The visiting artists represent the three genres of Tongan arts – tufunga (material), faiva (performance) and nimamea’a (fine) arts.

The artists include Tamale (Tonga Mohenoa) who comes from a long line of master artists who specialise in the material art of tufunga lalava (kafa sennit-lashing); Metuliki Fakatava who is an established punake – a master artist who specialises in all three performance arts of faiva ta’anga (poetry), faiva hiva (music) and faiva haka (dance); and three women who specialise in nimamea’a lālānga, the Tongan fine art of weaving: Ane ‘Ata Tupou Pongi, Paea he Lotu Mailau and Teilaiti Fungatau’akipulu Lasa.

The group will be led by Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, who is an expert on Tongan cultural protocols relating to women’s fine arts of material wealth. She will act as spokesperson for the group of artists.

Creative New Zealand would also like to acknowledge Tonga’s Handicrafts and Cultural Tourism Support Programme, which has been instrumental in making this exchange happen.

The visit is funded through Creative New Zealand’s Pacific cultural exchange programme. Last year’s exchange saw Samoan heritage artists visit New Zealand.

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