Pacific art takes over Government House

The Pacifica Mamas and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The Pacifica Mamas and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

Mary Ama and Dame Patsy Reddy

The Pacifica Mamas are the recipients of this year’s Matairangi Mahi Toi Pasifika artist-in-residence, a partnership between Massey University and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The highly-acclaimed Pacific Heritage artists Mary Ama, Gasolo Tiana Epati, Teuke Malaga and Sofia Tati were earlier this week welcomed to Government House in Wellington by Dame Patsy and her husband, Sir David Gascoigne.

The partnership between the University’s College of Creative Arts and the Office of the Governor-General provides senior Māori and Pacific artists the opportunity to live as guests in a cottage at Government House and create arts project.

From now until Sunday, November 24, the Pacifica Mamas will develop a collaborative large-scale weaving work, engage with Wellington’s Pacific communities and participate in the Pacific Heritage Arts Fono, a Pacific arts symposium to be hosted at the College of the Creative Arts.

The Pacifica Mamas collective includes weavers, tivaevae makers, carvers, tapa artists, orators, performing artists and cultural leaders brought together by a shared passion for the arts and culture of their Pacific homelands.

Formed in the late 1980s, they are all first-generation Pacific migrants to New Zealand, from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga, Tokelau, Kiribati and Niue. They were awarded the Creative New Zealand Pacific Heritage Arts Award in 2012, and the Aotearoa Arts Access Corrections Community Award 2015.  

College senior Pacific advisor Herbert Bartley says the residency is an opportunity to celebrate Māori and Pacific artists who have made a significant contribution to New Zealand arts.

“We are honoured to co-host The Pacifica Mamas here in Wellington,” he says. “They are hugely respected in the arts community and have been recognised far and wide for their contribution to Pacific arts.”

“We can’t wait to see the work they produce that will be unveiled at Government House at the end of their visit. If the welcoming afternoon tea is anything to go by, they will bring a life force to the cottage, the gardens and Government House which will leave everybody touched by their energy, determination and love of life.”

The residency programme was established in 2016 through a partnership between the Office of the Governor General and the College of Creative Arts, Massey University Wellington to encourage and promote Māori and Pacific visual arts.

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Toi Rauwhārangi
College of Creative Arts
Wellington, Aotearoa