Fa’afetai graduated with a Bachelor of Design from Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland in 2002. Soon after art school he became a qualified secondary school teacher in Technology, Graphics and Art. Since then he has been highly involved in education and teaching, sharing his mastery in these areas. While Fa’afetai’s practice is cemented in large scale painting, his work is diverse spaning a variety of mediums and forms including acting, body art and sculpture. This work is closely bound to his personal experiences of being a New Zealand
Fa’afetai’s decoration of objects and bodies is concerned primarily with Pacific motifs and images with reference to Samoan stories and legends. These motifs include commercial logos, global branding and symbols that are simplified or abbreviated. This reflects his interest in the way people naturally appreciate and acculturate designs and patterns from other cultures. Stimulated by early experiences of the rich and colourful Samoan environment Fa’afetai uses layered glazing and depth of colour. His work reflects an admiration for impressionist painters and their ability to capture a sense of light and movement. Fa’afetai travelled to Cuba in 2005 and worked as an actor and body artist in the movie ‘Adventures of the South Seas’, about Robert Louis Stevenson. Later that year he was a finalist in the body art section for ‘Westfield Style Pasifika 05’.
The paddle is a motif which has been widely used in Fa’afetai’s practice. In a 2006 Fa’afetai participated in ‘inter-islands’, a group exhibiton on Waiheke Island, where he presented three adorned outrigger paddles. The polynesian designs on these paddels signified the long, continued heritage of Pacific navigators and their inter-island travel.
Fa’afetai’s work has been featured in a number of exhibtions around New Zealand, including Circular, Artstation, 2010; Inter-Islands, Waiheke Community Art Gallery, 2006.