15 Aug 2023
An all-Pacific creative team is proud to announce Pacific Arts Aotearoa – a major new book spanning six decades of multidisciplinary Pacific creative genius.
Edited by leading Pacific writer and scholar Lana Lopesi, designed by Shaun Naufahu, project-managed by Faith Wilson and published by Penguin Random House New Zealand, the book honours the multi-dimensional, fresh and energetic contributions of Pacific artists to New Zealand, Oceania and the world.
“We are so proud to have co-designed this beautiful new book as a strategic initiative to celebrate our first ever Pacific Arts Strategy 2018–2023,” says Makerita Urale, Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager, Pacific Arts.
“This project began with our digital Pacific Arts Legacy Project, when COVID-19 first hit Aotearoa, and has now evolved to include many more voices of our Pacific arts community. Thank you and alofa to everyone who made this book a reality.”
The book includes images and contributions from more than 120 artists, curators and community voices, providing new and never-before-heard perspectives on this vast and growing legacy. Interwoven with their stories is the narrative of Pacific artists in Aotearoa, from their first arrivals on the shores of this country right up until today – and moving into the future.
Editor Lana Lopesi says Pacific Arts Aotearoa includes stories from some of the Pacific’s most beloved artists.
“Weavers, tapa makers, sculptors, resisters, quilters and disrupters, all make up the texture of Pacific creativity,” she says.
“These artists are not asking to be included; they are here. And together they create a complex weave, which defies any easy categorizing of Pacific art. Bringing together the incredible 120+ voices in the pages was a constant reminder that the reverberations of Pacific creativity are wide-reaching, and sometimes unexpected.”
These stories span decades, including early and respected elders Albert Wendt and Fatu Feu‘u; revolutionary radicals Tusiata Avia and Lindah Lepou, New Zealand’s first Queer Arts Laureate; screen stars like Oscar Kightley and Nathaniel Lees; and emerging stars like singer Moana Ete, and dancer Jahra Wasasala. The artforms covered range from steel guitar bands in 1940s Auckland to visual arts, performance and more. Swimming between these stories are essays about key moments, movements and people from across 60 years of making, written by foremost experts in their field.
This book charts the resilience and creativity of our Pacific communities, presenting a fascinating and multi-faceted history: from the Dawn Raids, to the burst of Polynesian creativity in the 1990s, right through to the current battle against climate change. Locating art within the social and political, building a story of heart, emotion, and unfathomable coolness, this is a book about community and alofa.
“From Albert Wendt to Che Fu to Parris Goebel, Pacific artists have contributed vastly to the story of art in this part of the world for nearly a century,” says Penguin Random House New Zealand Head of Publishing, Claire Murdoch.
“This book reveals the scale of that influence, and Lopesi’s history shows the waves of surgent and resurgent Pacific creativity they have brought.”
Designer Shaun Naufahu (Alt Group), created the display typeface and design layouts used throughout the book and project. Shaun says, “In designing this book, we wanted it to signal that it clearly comes from a group of people from a specific part of the world. Just as people have different spoken accents, you also have distinct visual accents.
“The first thing we created was a typeface named ‘Koloa Tuku’, meaning ‘legacy’ in Tongan. Utilising the manulua, the classic marking pattern, we created a grid. From that grid we generated the letter forms. Those forms, while not transposing the manulua, instead follow the genealogy of its lines.
“For the book’s colour scheme, we wanted to pick colours that evoked a familiar sense of the Pacific. We’ve referenced the TV2 tīvaevae made by Mi‘i Quarter in 1996–1997. It works as a metaphor for the whole project; a cultural moment in which customary practice meets contemporary expression.
“When you look at this book, you know that it relates to the Moana. That’s quite a powerful thing.”
100% of royalties from book sales will go back into supporting Pacific Arts in Aotearoa.