Mamas and Museums

2 05 2011

Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai presents a fantastic and unique event for the first time in the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit. Mamas and Museums: Pacific Women’s Fine Arts and Museums Forum and Workshop looks to create mutual understanding and foster better communication between the museums sector and Pacific women fine artists. Kolokesa explains more about the project…

What is your background?

I have a background in Social Anthropology, Art History and in Museums and Heritage Studies. I also worked at Te Papa Museum as a Pacific Curator for about four years. Since leaving Te Papa in 2008, I have continued working on projects that promote, nurture and support Pacific Arts in general and Tongan Arts in particular, including curating shows at a more grassroots level.

What was the inspiration for this event?

The inspiration for this event actually developed during my time working at Te Papa. As a museum professional working with the wider Pacific communities I constantly came across a gap in the knowledge and understanding that our people have about museums. Another issue that we often came across, which is in fact universal and not confined to the Pacific only, had to do with conservation concerns relating to materials and resources used by our Pacific artists and practitioners. It was always a point of discussion and debate amongst curators, collection managers and conservators when an artwork – that was for example made of plastic, raffia or used glue and double-sided tape – was up for consideration for Te Papa’s Pacific collections. So I thought that focusing on conservation issues would provide a key point of intersection where Pacific Mamas, Museum professionals and interested participants can come together to discuss, debate and share their respective knowledge, experience  and perspectives.

What can audiences look forward to?

There will be various women artists representing a variety of island nations and in most cases representing women’s arts groups. A selection of artists/groups have been invited to display examples of their fine arts and also share with us a little bit about what they or the group do, the type and variety of art works they create and the materials and resources they use. There will also be representatives from Te Papa museum andAucklandMuseumwho will talk to us about the work they do with their respective Pacific collections. This will also include conservation workshop sessions run by the conservators from both museums. The Senior Pacific Arts Advisor from Creative New Zealand (CNZ) will also attend and present us with information on what they provide for Pacific arts and some of the upcoming initiatives they have put in place to support Pacific arts.

What do you love about working with Pacific women artists?

What I love about working with Pacific women artists of the ‘mamas’ generation, particularly those working in arts groups, is the crucial role that they play in not only maintaining and preserving our various art forms but also developing and refining these art forms to another level through sheer innovation, creativity and ingenuity. Their genuine love, passion and dedication to their art forms are a testament to the fact that some of these women artists and arts group have existed and been proactive for many, many, years, yet in most cases little or nothing is known about them in the mainstream arts world. This for me is not only inspiring but also humbling because of the very fact that these women come with such a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience that are invested into their art practice and the fine arts that they produce.

What: Mamas and Museums: Pacific Women’s Fine Arts and Museums Forum and Workshop
Where: Manukau Institute of Technology, Visual Arts Building (Z Block), 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara, South Auckland
When: 10am – 4pm, Friday and Saturday, 27-28 May
Registrations Essential: Contact Nicole at Fresh Gallery Otara: 09 271 6019 /



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