Open main menu Close main menu


Exhibition celebrates success of Pacific artists from Unitec’s Creative Industries

  • Pacific Gallery Opening

A new art exhibition opening celebrates the success of current and past students of Pacific heritage from Unitec’s School of Creative Industries in Auckland. 

The exhibition ILO-ILO which opened on Monday, 13 May at Unitec’s Toi o Wairaka gallery features eighteen works by 12 Pacific artists who are current students and alumni of the Bachelor of Design and Contemporary Art and Master of Creative Practice programmes.

ILO-ILO is the first exhibition of Pacific artwork to be held at the new gallery since its opening last July. The occasion was celebrated with a traditional Fijian kava i-sevusevu ceremony which formally opened the exhibition. Unitec executive director, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and deputy chief executive-academic, Martin Carroll and Maori learning advisor, matua Owen Ormsby were on hand to receive the kava on behalf of the guests.

Peseta acknowledged and congratulated the exhibiting artists, curators and kaimahi for their mahi, while Head of School, Creative Industries, Dr Vanessa Byrnes spoke of the exhibition’s significance and the contribution of Pacific learners to the growth and success of Unitec’s creative industries programmes and the wider sector as alumni. Families, friends of the artists and guests from across Unitec and the Pacific arts industry were among the guests who attended opening night. And they were treated to a night of art, pacific culture, and entertainment.

The artists are: CURRENT STUDENTS: Lesinga Vaiaku, Samuel Tuaiti, Anne Ah Sam, Roseanne Kane and Martino Michael. ALUMNI: Damen Dooms, Melissa McMahon, Trina Lealavaa Ama, Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu, Linda Va’aelua, Jimmy Ma’ia’i, and Atarangi Anderson.

The name of the exhibition was conceived and co-curated by Unitec Pacific Centre Success Navigator Lupeti Fihaki, Creative Industries publicist and Pacific Success Champion Peter Rees, current MCP student Martino Michael, and gallery curator/lecturer Gina Ferguson as a means of reflecting on and acknowledging the success of Unitec’s Pacific learners. "Ilo-ilo is rooted in the Fijian word Iloilo meaning mirror or to mirror or to reflect," Lupeti Fihaki says.

"It is also the word for glass that you can see through as in mata-Iloilo or eyeglasses. The shorter word ilo is the Tuvaluan root word for iloa — to know. It is also found in other words such as iloaga or knowledge or state of knowing."

Gina Ferguson adds: "As the title ILO-ILO infers, the mirror and reflection is ever-present. The plethora of mediums and disciplines in this exhibition reiterates this concept with the individual trajectories that culminate within the walls of Toi o Wairaka signalling a new generation of voyagers."

The ILO-ILO exhibition coincides with the start of the 2024 Pacific Language Weeks with Rotuma Language Week (12-18 May) and runs until 26 May. Opening hours for the gallery are 9:30am-4:30pm from Monday to Friday.

All enquiries to Toi o Wairaka curator, Gina Ferguson