Pacific Artists in Residence doors open wider to community at Whitireia

When the Visual Arts Programme at Whitireia moved from Porirua to Wellington to be part of Te Auaha, the Institute of Creativity in 2017, it became apparent not everything could move with them. Their press machines were so large, the cost of dismantling and reassembling them was deemed to be prohibitive. But former student and graphic artist Moses Viliamu had an idea.



“I asked if we could use the existing room at our Porirua campus as a community art space,” he recalls.


Moses, and fellow Tokelauans Zac Mateo and Jack Kirifi, who had all gained qualifications in visual arts at Whitireia in the 1990s, approached the organisation with a proposal to stage an exhibition coinciding with Tokelau Language Week.


It was approved and the event was so successful, they were able to continue their time in the space. The residency, which started as an informal arrangement, has now been formalised.


“Jean (Chief Advisor Pacific Strategy) put some further thinking and structure around the concept and, wow! We have the Pacific Community Artists in Residence.”


Part of the residency requires each of them to develop a new portfolio which they intend to exhibit next year.


“We have lots of people coming in, including a German artist, who’s an artist in residence in Wellington and, of course Michael Tuffery, who is of Samoan, Cook Islands and Ma’ohi Tahiti heritage, and who we’re really proud of,” says Moses.



“We run workshops for community groups and school students. We’ve got the space, equipment and materials which inspires us to go hard in developing innovative printing techniques and making it accessible to the community.


“It’s very rewarding. One of the other benefits of being based here is that we have the opportunity to work with Jean to bring Pacific into the Whitireia and WelTec learning spaces.”


Having been part of the commercial graphic scene through Hoe Mua Designs, Moses knows the challenges of turning their art passion into a sustainable operation.


“We get great feedback and interest in what we do, but if we want to keep doing this for our community, we know we need someone with a stronger business focus. That would be a big help.”

Whitireia and WelTec celebrate Moses and Jack’s selection to the delegation of Māori and New Zealand-based contemporary Pasifika artists and rangatahi leaders who will represent Aotearoa, alongside 27 other Pacific nations, at the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture in Hawai’i in June 2020