02 Jul 2024

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .


Annafinau Tukuitoga. (Image supplied)

Annafinau Tukuitoga, the New Zealand Pacific Youth Ambassador to the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPAC), reflects on her transformative experience at the event. 

FestPAC was not just a celebration of culture, but a profound journey of understanding about the deep connection between the arts and the environment for Annafinau. "The environment is our source of life," she says. 

"The land we plant the kumara or the talo on gives us sustenance. The sea we rely on to gather kai provides for our whānau.” 

The environment is a cause that sits close to her heart. “As a creative artist, it matters to me because what I do today will impact the future tomorrows." 

Her words are a reminder of the vital role the environment plays in sustaining both our physical needs and cultural traditions. 

Annafinau Tukuitoga with Poroaki McDonald, the New Zealand Māori Youth Ambassador. (Image supplied)

Annafinau says the Pō Aotearoa event - which brought together a range of artforms including contemporary dance, painting, poetry, customary art and even yodeling highlighted the connection between cultural heritage and the environment and was an eye opener, "For me, it’s accepting that it’s okay to be different," she shares. "I shouldn’t be embarrassed to be a kiwi-born Fijian or tagata Niue. Aotearoa is showing the Pacific the way of how to be inclusive, by bringing people together, working together, and being comfortable with the notion that I am Fijian/Niue, but I can also represent Aotearoa in many spaces. I am kiwi, and I am accepted in NZ as a Kiwi-born Fijian, tagata Niue." 

Through her FestPAC experience, Annafinau has come to understand that the future of the arts and the health of the environment are deeply interconnected. She sees this as a priority for young artists, emphasising that they have a crucial role to play in advocating for both cultural heritage and environmental preservation. Her reflections serve as a powerful call to action for all to nurture both our cultural heritage and the natural world that sustains it.

At FestPAC, Annafinau saw first-hand the power of cultural expression in promoting environmental awareness. She says, "Aotearoa is leading the way in Indigenous thinking."