24 Jan 2024

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .


Images (clockwise L-R): Natasha Ratuva, Hana Pera Aoake, Elsie Andrewes, Jayden Purcell and Mere Taito
Images (clockwise L-R): Natasha Ratuva, Hana Pera Aoake, Elsie Andrewes, Jayden Purcell and Mere Taito. (Images supplied).

We’re proud to announce the five New Zealand participants of the Digital Fellowship Programme, in collaboration with Creative Australia.  

Elsie Andrewes, Hana Pera Aoake, Jayden Purcell, Natasha Ratuva, and Mere Taito will join five Australian participants (Moorina Bonini, Kate ten Buuren, W. Sze Tsang, Kasey Gambling and Max Brading) on the Digital Fellowship Programme.

This six-month programme provides participants with $10,000 each to explore their digital practice through a mix of expert mentoring, workshops and collaboration. 

The five New Zealand artists together cover a wide range of artforms, including audio/visual art, film, digital media and poetry/short fiction.

Through a series of curated online gathering sessions, and in-person mentoring, the programme aims to help participants embrace digital technologies through collaborative learning – developing their skills, networks, leadership and confidence – to strengthen their digital practice. 

Mere Taito, a Rotuman writer based in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton, says the programme has come at an opportune time.

“For me, digital technology has blown up the boundaries and the margins of a ‘page’ and changed my creative writing and research practice forever,” she says.

“I can’t wait to learn more about the reflexive practices of the other artists in this fellowship, and whether they might be applicable (or not) to a language regenerative context.”

Natasha Ratuva, a Fijian multi-disciplinary creative based in the Wairarapa, says she’s excited to be part of such a talented cohort of artists.

“This opportunity allows me to invest in creative assets that will develop my skills, expand my imagination and connect with important mentorship, as an early career artist,” she says.

This year, the in-person and online workshop facilitators are Aotearoa and New York-based interdisciplinary artist, writer and facilitator Pelenakeke Brown, and Yagera/Butchulla woman Kamarra Bell-Wykes, a playwright, director, performer, education consultant and alumni of ILBIJERRI.

The in-person gathering will be held in Melbourne on 8-10 February 2024.

Makerita Urale, Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager, Pacific Arts, says this partnership with Creative Australia aligns with international outcomes and the Moana and Vā guiding stars of Creative New Zealand's Pacific Arts Strategy.

“We’re thrilled to be providing this opportunity for the third year in collaboration with our friends at Creative Australia,” she says.

“Creatives are often at the forefront of innovation and digital exploration, and this programme is a great opportunity for our artists to share knowledge across the Tasman moana and expand skills and networks in digital spaces.”

Creative Australia’s Director, Industry Development, Adam McGowan says, “It's great to be offering this career development opportunity to ten artists who are foregrounding Pasifika and First Nations Australian storytelling, self-determination and innovative digital practice through their work.  

“We are delighted to collaborate with Creative New Zealand to deliver the programme for a third year and congratulate the artists who will meet in Melbourne for the start of the Digital Fellowship next month.”

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Aotearoa New Zealand artists 

Natasha Ratuva  

Natasha Ratuva (she/her) is a Fiji (Kadavu vasu i Bua) born and raised multi-disciplinary creative based in Wairarapa, Aotearoa, NZ. Natasha applies the mediums of photography, digital art, poetry, gardening and Taukei traditional practices to ground her learnings and observations as Pasifika diaspora in New Zealand, Aotearoa. Often colour and the human anatomy is harnessed within her digital practice as tools of archiving memory, each hue and form embodying a story or cultural principle. Recently, Natasha has brought masi (indigenous Fijian barkcloth) to the forefront of her creative practice. Using natural pigments and dyes to carefully hand paint traditional patterns and contemporary compositions onto masi, Natasha reimagines and expands expressions of her Taukei identity and culture. 

Mere Taito 

Mere Taito (Rotuma: Malha’a and Noa’tau) is a poet, flash fiction, and short story writer based in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton in Aotearoa NZ. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Otago exploring the impacts of reading Rotuman archival multilingual texts on the writing of multilingual poetry. Using digital and online authoring tools such as Canva, Camtasia, and Articulate Storyline, her study positions digitally-authored poetry as an effective language-learning resource for Rotuman language regeneration in Aotearoa. Her creative work has been published widely in anthologies and journals such as Dreadlocks, Bonsai, Landfall, and Best New Zealand Poems. She is one of the co-editors of the upcoming anthology Katūīvei: Contemporary Pasifika Poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand (2024).

Elsie Andrewes
Elsie Andrewes

Elsie is a Fijian (Navala, Nakoroboya, Ba) / Pākeha digital artist and illustrator based in Whangārei, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Her works are rooted in her Pacific heritage, with a focus on exploring themes of identity, natural heritage and more recently impacts of climate change to these regions. Her creative practice is informed by current events locally and globally, as well as having a keen interest in myths and legends, and science fiction. Elsie is the in-house illustrator and graphic designer for Studio Kiin, an indigenous-led creative studio and collective where story sovereignty, kinship and healing is priority. 

Hana Pera Aoake
Hana Pera Aoake  

Hana Pera Aoake (Ngāti Hinerangi, Ngāti Mahuta, Tainui/Waikato) is an artist and writer from Aotearoa. Hana works across many mediums including textiles, ceramics, performance, film, and writing. Hana has published widely and sometimes organises exhibitions, readings, education programmes and conversations. Currently they work with Morgan Godfery on Kei te pai press, a publishing, art and education project. They also work as a teacher at Te whare wānanga o Waitaha Canterbury university and, the curator of the Kawerau museum. Hana published their first book, A bathful of kawakawa and hot water with Compound Press in 2020. 

Jayden Purcell
Jayden Purcell  

Jayden, a rising artist from Aukilani, Aotearoa, brilliantly diverged from an athletic legacy to embrace his true calling in the arts. Sixth in a family of seven, he draws inspiration from his Pacifica dancer grandparents and great-grandparents, esteemed sketch and paint artists. Jayden's journey unfolded at Wintec and Te Auaha in Wellington, where he nurtured a profound passion for the arts. As a proud Polynesian artist, Jayden's dynamic quest extends beyond conventional boundaries, uniting heritage with modern expression through creativity and technology. 

Australian artists

Closeup of Moorina Bonini
Moorina Bonini

Moorina Bonini is a proud descendant of the Yorta Yorta Dhulunyagen family clan of Ulupna  and the Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri and Wiradjuri Briggs/McCrae family. Moorina is an artist whose works are informed by her experiences as an Aboriginal and Italian woman. Her practice attempts to disrupt and critique the eurocentric foundations that centralise Indigenous categorisation within western institutions. By unsettling the narrative placed upon Aboriginal people as a result of colonisation of Aboriginal Australia, Moorina’s practice is based within Indigenous Knowledge systems and brings this to the fore.

Closeup imageof Kate ten Buuren
Kate ten Buuren. (Image credit: Laura du Ve) 

Kate ten Buuren is a Taungurung artist and curator interested in contemporary visual art, film and stories. Her practice is grounded in self-determination, self-representation and collectivism. Kate is a member of First Nations arts collective this mob. She is Senior Curator, First Nations at MAP Co and has held previous curatorial positions at ACMI and Koorie Heritage Trust. Recently, Kate curated Now You’re Speakin’ My Language - a program of experimental moving image works presented by NOWNESS Asia and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. 

Close up of Kasey Gambling
Kasey Gambling

Kasey is a multi-disciplinary artist creating experiences that bridge performance, digital media and audio. An award-winning theatre-maker, writer and performer, Kasey is interested in creating site-specific works that explore the link between place and oppressed and marginalised voices. Kasey creates intimate works for small audiences exploring misogyny and gender-based inequality, with a focus on verbatim text. Kasey's work, The Maze, a single-audience site-specific walk allowing participants to witness firsthand the fear of a woman walking alone at night, won Melbourne Fringe NSW Tour Ready & Summerhall Awards, as well as the Adelaide Fringe John Chataway Innovation Award.

Close up image of Max Brading
Max Brading

Max is an artist working on Kaurna land, specialising in real-time visual arts, interactive programming, and artistic integration with multimedia systems. Max graduated with a BA in Photography from Charles Sturt University in 2012 and built their technical skills by working at art festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe, Sydney Festival and Adelaide Fringe and was creative producer at The Lab (Adelaide) until 2022. Max is a member of The Bait Fridge arts collective and is currently based at Washdog Studios. From a lifelong interest in digital technology, Max has developed a creative practice that blends technical knowledge and multimedia arts, centred around collaboration and experimental process. 

Close up of M Sze Tsang squared
W. Sze Tsang

Sze Tsang (they/them) is a published researcher, performer, photographer, and audio-visual artist residing in Boorloo/Perth, Western Australia. Sze’s practice and research focuses on the relationships between self and place through audio-visual works, and their experience as a practitioner-researcher. Their practice involves incorporating audio and visual elements of place into compositions, as a form of emotional catharsis. Sze has presented at international and national conferences and published academic writings on soundscape composition.