01 May 2023

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .


A glamorous headshot of Manu Vaea, a Tongan artist, who stands in front of lush green ferns, wearing sparkly jewellery and a black tshirt
Image supplied

Manuha’apai Vaeatangitau, or Manu Vaea, is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Tamaki Makaurau. As this year’s Aniva resident, they will spend three months at Pātaka Museum in Porirua developing a new body of work and creative collaborations. 

Manu (they/them/she) is Tongan and identifies as Leitī, the Tongan third gender. Their creative work responds to themes of cultural transformation, seeking to assert queer Pacific identities into social and cultural visibility.

Manu has experience across a wide range of artforms, including illustration, poetry, performance and music, and they’re currently acting for the first time in Neon/Prime TV show Not Even, written by Dana Leaming. Manu also received the Creative New Zealand and Massey University Arts and Creativity award at the 2019 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards.

Being this year's Aniva resident means I can make what I want, do what I want and know that I will be held within a framework designed specifically for people like me,” Manu says.

“It means I get to push the boundaries of my practice and explore themes I may not necessarily be able to safely in other spaces.”

Developed through our Pacific Arts Strategy in partnership with Pātaka Art and Museum, Aniva is a paid, three-month residency for a Pasifika creative who identifiues as MVPFAFF+ or LGBTQIA+. It includes an artist fee of $18,000 across the three months, and will also cover domestic travel, accommodation and material costs.

The selection process was community focused, which included gathering shortlisted artists in Porirua for in-person interviews and allowing space for them to spend time together and make connections.

For the duration of the residency, Manu will develop a project titled Koe Tau’atāina o e Leitī | The Freedom/Emancipation of the Leitī - a multimedia exhibition consisting of a soundscape, moving images and textile paintings.

“The gist of what I’m wanting to explore is radical honesty,” they say.

“What are fakaleitī able to become when we can be more than just a sum of our parts? When we can be whole and tell the complete truth about how we love, how we want to be loved, where we see ourselves, how we’ve persevered for so long, how lonely yet simultaneously elating this life can be...our proximity to the divine and the erotic.”

Manu says advocating for MVPFAFF+ communities is “paramount” to their practice.

“I believe that this project will benefit MVPFAFF+ communities as the work will hopefully reflect back to them the totality of our experiences in full and invigorating ways.”

“Platforming queer Pacific artists and providing resources to art specifically made for and by us ensures that we stay at the forefront of the discourse regarding our own lives. This also ensures more authentic representations of our lives and stories exist and are readily available for rangatahi.”

The Aniva Residency aligns with the Tagata, Vā and Vaka pou of the Creative New Zealand Pacific Arts Strategy – and is the only artistic residency in the country available exclusively to the Pasifika rainbow community.

“We see this unique opportunity as influential not only on the successful applicant’s individual career, but on their community as well, says Ali Foa’i, Creative New Zealand’s Principal Adviser, Pacific Arts.

“We’re over the moon to be able to offer this opportunity to Manu. I’m excited to see how their time at Pātaka will impact the Porirua MVPFAFF+/LGBTQIA+ community, and their own trajectory as an artist.” 

“We had an exceptional pool of applicants this year, from all over Aotearoa,” says Pātaka Director, Ana Sciascia.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Pātaka to host a great artist such as Manu and support them in their art practice to create an exciting exhibition.”

The residency will run from August to November 2023. 

Click here to read about the inaugural 2021 resident Sevia (Saviiey) Aliiva’a Nua - a Porirua-based artist and community leader, and Chair/Director of Ngā Uti o Whiti Te Rā Mai Le Moana Trust.

For media inquiries, contact:

Esther Lees (she/her), Senior Communications Advisor - Pacific

E: esther.lees@creativenz.govt.nz | M: +64 27 871 7543