Ioane Ioane’s journey of revitalisation began with a six thousand kilometre ride across the Pacific ocean to Guam on the Royal New Zealand Defence Force’s RNZAF C-130 Hercules where Ioane would represent New Zealand and the Pacific at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts. The theme for the festival was: What we Own, What we Have, What we Share, United Voices of the Pacific. Creative New Zealand funded around 100 Māori and New Zealand-based Pasifika artists to represent Aotearoa alongside 26 other Pacific nations at the festival in May and June 2016.
The Festival of Pacific Arts takes place every four years and in the Pacific it is a significant arts and culture event. The festival brings together more than two thousand artists and other cultural practitioners from twenty seven Pacific nations for the festivals two weeks. New Zealand has sent a delegation to every festival since it began in 1972 as the South Pacific Arts Festival.
While the art of boat-building was once central to the Pacific, few intact vessels remain. So Ioane has decided to take up the challenge of revitalisation. Thus far the research has focused on va ‘alo maquettes which Ioane pieces together from archival images, books and word-of-mouth passed on through generations. It was in Guam where Ioane was able to hear from expert canoe makers from all over the Pacific.
“When Europeans arrived in the Pacific they were blown away by how many boats we had and how sophisticated our boats and navigation were. Much of that was kept secret by European historians because it didn’t fit with Western perceptions of Pacific people at the time. That’s why we are doing this – I’m just a little fish, there are many of us reviving an ancient yet cutting edge artform.”
Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Professor Steven Ratuva says Ioane is well placed to provide contemporary Pacific artistic designs as part of the campus rejuvenation and sees this as a great way of integrating Pacific art and architecture in an innovative manner at another level. Ioane brings with him a lot of experience and expertise through seminars, exhibitions and other activities, he says.
“Part of Ioane’s residency project is to carve a life-size Samoan canoe, va’atele, which will be part of an international exhibition in Auckland, plus a series of smaller canoes as exhibition pieces to promote the Pacific artform.”
With his residency at the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies allowing him to take another step toward his goal of relearning the lost art of building traditional Samoan va ‘a (canoe).
“I’ve carved these maquettes through listening to these experts and my research at the MacMillan Brown library. It’s helped me understand deeper the cosmology that links our ancient navigators to the ocean, stars and the Va (space between) that binds all,” Ioane says.
The Macmillan Brown Pacific Artist in Residence programme has been offered annually at UC since 1996. The residency aims to provide the chosen artist with an opportunity to develop new directions in their artistic practice and to support and promote the development of indigenous Pacific Art in New Zealand.
Ioane Ioane is one of the featured artists during the headland Sculpture in the Gulf 2017.
All images provided courtesy of the artist Ioane Ioane.< BACK TO LISTINGS