Blackbird

Updated: Jun 30

Moses Viliamu, Zac Mateo, and Jack Kirifi will represent Tokelau at The Festival of Pacific Art & Culture in Hawaii in June 2020.



Viliamu, Mateo, and Kirifi were together at high school in Porirua and then studied at Whitireia in the 2000’s. Recently all three have held artist residencies at Whitireia.


Their three-part installation, called Cry of the Stolen People, tells of the enslaving of Tokelau people by Peruvian pirates. ‘The blackbirding of Tokelauans by the Peruvians in the 1860s is an important part of our history but is not spoken about much,’ says Mateo.

The installation will be presented in three stages, over three nights. The first night will show imagery portraying slavery being projected onto three ship sails. The three sails represent the three atolls of Tokelau (Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo), as well as the three artists who created the piece. On the second night, these masts will be burnt to the ground in a gesture symbolising the taking away of the Tokelau people as slaves by the Peruvian pirates. Finally, the ashes of the burnt sails will be used to create a mural to reflect the healing and reconciliation of the Tokelau people.



The Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture is the world’s largest celebration of visual and performance art and culture of indigenous Pacific Islanders. It is held every four years in a different Pacific Island nation.

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