In search of a Pacific voice in Aotearoa’s art scene of the early 1990’s, the group of artists, performers, fashion designers, jewellers and musicians joined forces in the art collective Pacific Sisters. Formed in 1992, founding members included Rosanna Raymond, Selina Forsyth, Niwhai Tupaea, Suzanne Tamaki, Ani O’Neill, Lisa Reihana, Feeonaa Wall and Jaunnie Illolahia. The members brought to the collective a diverse background in visual and performing arts as well as event and screen production. Producing a
Largely performance-based, the works produced by the collective were renowned for cutting-edge performances and costuming that contemporized traditional perceptions of pacific art. Noting a distinct absence of positive representation of Pacific people in mainstream media, the collective’s work made a point of showcasing the talents and faces of brown people. The collective was instrumental in forging a new platform for Pacific artists in New Zealand and resulted in more formal recognition of urban Pacific & Maori identity within a creative framework.
The sisters work first featured in a formal gallery setting in 1994 at the Auckland Art Gallery where they performed a piece at the opening of Bottled Ocean curated by Jim Viviaere. The development of this performance piece lead to Motu Tangata; a contemporary realisation of the legend of Ina/Hina and Tuna. This work was devised after receiving invitation to perform at the seventh Festival of Pacific Arts in Samoa in 1996 - a festival that celebrates traditional practices - but was relegated to the festival periphery on account of its modern styling.
Much of Pacific Sisters’ early fashion work featured in magazines such as Planet. Their first gallery performance was at Bottled Ocean, Auckland Art Gallery, 1994; Motu Tangatawere performed in Samoa, 1996; Tribe Vibe and the Extended Family Mix, Sydney's Pacific Wave Festival (1998); Tūrangawaewae, New Zealand Jewellery Biennale, The Dowse (1998); Raw Fish, The Physics Room, Christchurch (1998); as well as the Biennale of Sydney in 2000.
The Sisters reunited in 2011 to present Pacific Sisters SOUTHSIDE: EyeKonik at the Mangere Arts Centre as part of the Pacific Arts Summit. Their work 21st Century Cyber Sister is held in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.