Pasifika art exhibitions across Auckland

There are some awesome Pasifika arts exhibitions coming up across the Auckland region to check out, from Melanesian artists exploring the spiritual and symbolic meaning of head and hair in many Pacific cultures and a looking at the Tongan way of life and existence to woodblock prints used by artist Numangatini Fraser Mackenzie to share his love of Marquesan patutiki (tattoo). Make note of the dates and read about the artists and exhibitions below:




WANTOK curated by Luisa Tora


21 April – 26 May

Māngere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Corner Bader Drive and Orly Avenue, Māngere


WANTOK is a group exhibition of Melanesian artists from Australia and Aotearoa, working with hair culture and the spiritual and symbolic meaning of the head and hair in many Pacific cultures.


Curated by Luisa Tora, WANTOK provides the opportunity to recover and rearticulate Melanesian knowledges and practice following migration, and allow a decolonialised view of beauty and mana to develop.


In this context, WANTOK is a Tok Pisin (Melanesian Pidgin English) word that refers to people with a shared set of Melanesian cultural values.



Ko ‘eku ‘iai – My Existence by Visesio Poasi Siasau


1 May – 2 June 2018

Fresh Gallery Ōtara, 5/46 Fairmall, Ōtara Town Centre, 2023


In Ko ‘eku ‘iai – My Existence, Visesio Poasi Siasau uses painting and sculpture to explore the reality of Tongan life and existence, the meaning of democracy and the connection of all things in Tongan culture.


The Tongan part of the title - ‘Ko ‘eku ‘iai’ - translates into English as ‘My Existence’. In 2017 the Tongan King Tupou VI made a momentous decision to dissolve the Tongan parliament and commanded a new election be held, it was unprecedented for the King to use his power in this way.


This event was the catalyst for a number of Talanoa (discussions) and soul searching about the meaning of democracy and the reality of Tongan life and existence. In response to this moment, Siasau explores the philosophical meaning and the connection of all things in a Tongan context, the moral and ethical values of his culture.


For Ko ‘eku ‘iai – My Existence Fresh Gallery Ōtara is filled with a dense sculptural installation made up of stylised red and black hiapo (mulberry plants). It is a plantation that reflects the holistic principals of Tongan culture. The hiapo (mulberry plants) are adorned with western medical apparatus to signify the Tongan concept of tauhi vaha’a or spatial relatedness.



Artist talks and gallery events




Saturday 5 May, 11am – 1pm


Join us for a discussion with Visesio Poasi Siasau and Hūfanga Professor 'Ōkusitino Māhina. There will be activities for children in response to the exhibition on the day.


Existence in South Auckland


Thursday 10 May, 11am – 1.30pm


‘In Conversation’ with artist Visesio Poasi Siasau and visiting guests from Lo’au University Tonga. Tongan academics share ideas from their specialist areas of knowledge.

Artist bio


Visesio Poasi Siasau is a renowned Tongan artist working in the mediums of both painting and sculpture. He completed a Masters degree at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and is a cultural practitioner from He Waka Hiringa, the first Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge degree program in the Pacific.


Siasau self-identifies as a tufungaʻi practitioner and draws on Tongan epistemologies as his pathway to understanding ideas passed down by traditional knowledge keepers. He has represented both Aotearoa and Tonga in an international context, and is the first Tongan recipient to be awarded the prestigious James Wallace Art Award (2015).


Selected presentations; Presentation of Black barkcloth, The Metropolitan Museum, New York (2016), Presentation of works from The James Wallace Art Award, The International Studio Curatorial Program, (2016), The Pacific Arts Association XII International Symposium, Tamaki Makaurau (2016). Selected exhibitions; Tongan Aesthetics – Black on Black Series, International Studio Curatorial Program, New York (2016), Ono’aho- Distance light of past civilisations, Nuku’alofa,Tonga (2014), Melino (Culture in harmony with nature), Honiara, Solomon Islands (2012), No’o Fakataha Exhibition, Atenisi University, Tonga (2013).





Faux Patutiki by Numangatini Fraser Mackenzie



Until 28 April 2018

Papakura Art Gallery, 10 Averill Street, Papakura


Using a series of woodblock prints artist Numangatini Fraser Mackenzie shares his love of Marquesan patutiki (tattoo). He hopes to create dialogue as he explores new ways to read and interpret these patterns and designs.


Patutiki Printing: Saturday 21 April 12–2pm


Numangatini Fraser Mackenzie invites visitors to print one-off t-shirts based on the Faux Patutiki exhibition. A limited number of t-shirts will be provided.


Artist bio


Numangatini Mackenzie is an interdisciplinary artist who works in the medium of graf, tatau and mixed media installation. He is interested in urban space and building connections to his Pacific heritage and people. His research engages with literature on Oceanic art, museum collections.


McKenzie collaborates with practitioners of art forms ranging from tatau, painting and spoken word to voyaging/navigation and street art. He often responds to these experiences and sites of investigation through large public graf installations, performance and printmaking.


He is actively involved in cultural heritage projects, performative acti.VA.tions, research and community development in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.