Vanuatu

PCF and Lagi-Maama launch Phase 2 of ‘Arts’ of Moana Oceania and Tok Stori Tuesdays online

The Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) is partnering with Lagi-Maama Academy & Consultancy (Lagi-Maama) to deliver Phase II of the ‘Arts’ of Moana Oceania and Tok Stori Tuesdays online series, featuring Tuvalu, Tokelau and Vanuatu.

PCF Co-Board Chair Christine Nurminen said, “This partnership aligns with one of the PCF’s four focus areas - Promoting Our New Zealand Pacific Identity’ to bring a greater awareness and appreciation by the people and communities of the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, of their shared Pacific identity, history and culture.”

Lagi-Maama founders Toluma‘anave Barbara Makuati-Afitu of Samoan heritage, and Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai of Tongan heritage, said, “The ‘Arts’ of Moana Oceania and Tok Stori Tuesdays project helps to address the current knowledge gap in the cultural sector. This project provides a cross-cultural approach to knowing and understanding ‘what art is’ from multiple worldviews, by providing a platform to connect and share knowledge with Aotearoa, the wider region, and our Moana Oceania diaspora worldwide.”

Dr Kabini Sanga explains that the concept and practice of “Tok stori, a form of discursive communication, is an everyday occurrence in the Western Moana Oceania region. To speak of tok stori is to invoke a way of negotiating with the social world. In tok stori, storying is something that one does together: a story is constructed by speakers and listeners. Tok stori takes place when people interchange and exchange, creating a collective experience in which the development of relationships is both an accompaniment to, and a purpose of, storying. Group activity which develops knowledge is the stuff of life in Western Moana Oceania societies: this truth is embedded in the everyday nature of tok stori.” 

The completion of Phase I of ‘Arts’ of Moana Oceania and Tok Stori Tuesdays took place in 2020 in partnership with Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi. This privileged the research of Indigenous knowledge holders from nine island nations: 

What will be gifted from Tuvalu, Tokelau and Vanuatu will add to the online publications from Phase I. This rich resource will inform best practice within and across cultural institutions and sector, to develop, adopt, and embed policies and processes that acknowledge different Indigenous knowledge systems.

Lagi-Maama shared that, “It has been our privilege to experience the impact of what has been gifted by our holders of knowledge for Phase I, and we acknowledge the importance of continuing this platform of sharing and building our collective Moana Oceania ways of knowing, seeing and doing. We are excited to continue the relationship we started out with Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi by moving into Phase II with Pacific Cooperation Foundation.”

The collective experience of interchange and exchange through an online tok stori platform was acknowledged by the Hawaiian Meyer sisters who shared during their Tok Stori Tuesdays session that “We are in a time of radical transformation. We need to continue to gather with each other, that is where strength comes from. And that is how we heal.”

The importance of our Indigenous Moana Oceania systems was articulated by Maui-TāVā-He-Ako who shared that one of his takeaways is “that ‘art’ is a site of knowledge production, especially our Indigenous knowledge production – this is where we produce our knowledge, this the repository of this knowledge and where we share our knowledge with all.”

The global connections to our Moana Oceania diaspora creatives from Australia have also been strengthened. Tongan creative Seini Taumoepeau said she found the Tok Stori Tuesdays, “Ever so enlightening and I am almost always in tears at the sheer distance of mystery dissolving – it becomes so moving and truly inspiring.”

Grace Vanilau, a Samoan creative also based in Australia said, “I have been craving for this type of platform for many years and to be in the presence of such greatness, to receive and experience the generous sharing of our peoples from across our great Oceania Moana, was both humbling and uplifting.… for me, it was pure poetry in motion and an extra grounding that I have needed to continue my work both in the institution that I’m working for and in my own creative practice.”

Providing a safer online space where young people want to engage meaningfully was expressed by Dr Tarisi Vunidilo who said “I really want to say vinaka vaka levu to our Tuesday Tok Stori that has kind of awakened the interest in our young Fijians who are asking these questions about ‘art’, but there hasn’t been any forum to have this discussion around ‘what art is’ defined from an iTaukei perspective.”

Christine Nurminen said, “The PCF is honoured to be partnering with Lagi-Maama Academy & Consultancy on this important initiative, and we invite you all to join in on the next Phase of Tok Stori Tuesdays online sessions.”

Phase II of the live online tok stori will take place on the last Tuesday of each month at 6.00pm Aotearoa New Zealand time via zoom.

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