Five contemporary Moana artists explore cultural and personal connections to hair
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Five contemporary Moana artists explore cultural and personal connections to hair
Artwork by Nwi Tutugoro. Image Courtesy of the artist.

AUCKLAND .- Good Hair Day, a new exhibition opened Friday 4 August at Tautai Pacific Arts Trust, presents new work by artists Bai Buliruarua, Māia Piata Rose Week, Nwi Tutugoro, Karlin Morrison Raju and Peter Wing Seeto. Curated by Luisa Tora.

The cultural significance of hair in the Moana transcends our urban narratives in multi-layered ways and connects us to one another. As Moana peoples, our hair and multiple hairstyles tell stories, assert identities, and empower the avant-garde perspectives in our art making and social visibility.

This gathering of artists draws on the late Dr Teresia Teaiwa’s call to “build our own archives” to store and share these unique stories and perspectives.

In the face of code-switching and assimilation, we see the rise of the ‘curly girl’ routine, the premiering of The Polynesian Panthers TV series, and Solange Knowles’

‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ as mainstream expressions of pride surrounding the sacredness of our curly crowns. Dialogue here prioritises hair sovereignty and the broader cultural and spiritual issues surrounding it.

Good Hair Day concepts alternate across photography, embroidery, illustration, and sculpture. This exhibition will explore urban narratives of hair in our culture and in our day- to-day experiences as diaspora. These offerings preserve and legitimize these hair revolutions as well as our presence and lineage.

What significance does hair have in your culture?

What does your hair mean to you?

Has your relationship with your hair evolved?

Good Hair Day Curator

Luisa Tora is a multidisciplinary artist, activist, curator and writer. They also have a collaborative practice with their partner, artist Molly Rangiwai-McHale. Their works are represented in private collections, Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Tora has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Pacific History and Politics from the University of the South Pacific and in 2014 completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) at Manukau Institute of Technology.

Their art practice is concerned with the queer discourse, gender, and Pacific history. They curated WANTOK exhibition of Melanesian artists from Australia and Aotearoa, working with hair culture in 2018. They were the 2021 McMillan Brown Artist in Residence.

Good Hair Day Artists

Māia Piata Rose Week is a multidisciplinary artist based on Waiheke Island and is of Rangitāne and Kahungunu descent. Her practice focuses on themes of identity and self-empowerment. By sharing her own experiences of growing up Māori in Aotearoa, she aims to connect to her audience through shared lived experiences, while also challenging pre-existing ideas of what it means to be Māori.

Karlin Morrsion Raju is a Fijian-Indian & Irish Artist born and raised in Tamaki Makaurau. Recalling family memories through conversations, Morrison Raju recreates a Drum Barrel in oxidized red concrete. These barrels are used in villages to hold water for the outdoor washing of hair, among endless other uses. Embracing the found material construction style he has observed in Fiji, Morrison-Raju uses corrugated formwork to recreate a water barrel. Exaggerated industrial materials, swollen walls, and a shrunken interior of the barre with restricted access to inner well, are used to convey personally experienced barriers concerning hair identity.

Nwi Tutugoro, born to a Kanak father and Anglo-Argentinian/European mother, Tāmaki Makaurau born artist Nwi Tutugoro presents a practice comprising of site-specific sculptural drawings that illuminate moments from her childhood and works with found materials to emphasise contextual negotiations of place and space. The return to art-making after a small hiatus has initiated a performance piece whereby Nwi Tutugoro paints directly onto the gallery walls with her hair. The paint marking is imagined as a ‘tidal line’ that forms a connection between two photographs; of Nwi’s father and a portrait of her in intermediate. Both images although pixelated, obtain a sacredness and relatedness.

Peter Wing Seeto is a queer multidisciplinary maker that hails for the y- shaped archipelago of Vanuatu. Their current practice in time is now based in Papatoetoe, Tāmaki Makarau. Their making is heavily based on gratification achieved through a sense of agency. They convey this through site-specificity as well as body adorning and their preferred medium of analog/film photography.
Good Hair Day has sparked a more personal form of making for Peter as it has really made them assess the vital role of hair in forming one’s identity. Peter’s new work draws from their past to present self and the growing relationship they have with their hair.

Bai Buliruarua (he/him) is a Fijian (Ca’audrove, Vanualevu, vasu i Beqa) multi-disciplinary creative based in Tamaki. While his main mediums are film and writing, he dabbles in illustration and other mediums, as he says, “whatever medium is most fitting for that period of time of my life”. His work as a storyteller explores ideas of identity, community, and the Pacific experience. He aims to reflect the world around him, the rapidly changing spaces he occupies, and the shifting tides of culture.


“Great art feeds a family for generations.” - Tautai Founding Patron, Fatu Feu’u
Located in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand, Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust is a charitable trust dedicated to championing Pacific arts and artists. Tautai was formed in the 1980s when leading Samoan artist Fatu Feu’u and his peers came together with a shared aspiration to support and promote Pacific visual artists. In the years since, Tautai has grown to become Aotearoa’s premiere Pacific arts organisation with a multidisciplinary focus. The Trust brings artists and the wider Tautai aiga together through a range of events and activities locally and globally.

Proudly supported by Creative New Zealand and Foundation North, Tautai is able to provide unique opportunities for the Moana arts community. Situated in the heart of Auckland’s CBD on Karangahape Road, Tautai’s newly expanded premises now includes a gallery space dedicated to showcasing the works of contemporary Pacific creatives all year round. In addition, Tautai’s full programme of activities and events include live-streamed artist talks and performances, a brand-new international strategy, workshops, internships and partnership initiatives that encourage growth in the sector.

Tautai Gallery
Good Hair Day
August 4th, 2023 - September 23rd, 2023

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