VĀ: Remembering Our Ritual Bodies
Nina Tonga is an art historian and Curator Contemporary Art at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. She is from the villages of Vaini and Kolofo’ou in the Kingdom of Tonga and was born and raised in New Zealand. Nina specialises in contemporary Pacific art and is a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Auckland. Nina has been involved in a number of writing and curatorial projects in New Zealand and the wider Pacific. Her exhibitions include Home AKL (2012) at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Tonga i Onopooni (2014) at Pataka Art + Museum, Tīvaevae: Out of the Glory Box (2015) and Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists (2018-2019) at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. She is currently Curator of the Honolulu Biennial 2019, To Make Wrong/ Right/ Now.
Research leader, Pacific spatial and architectural environment
Albert L Refiti is a Samoan born and raised research leader in the field of Pacific spatial and architectural environment with extensive research and publication in the area supported by his teaching and lecturing for the last 15 years. He is an Associate Professor of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology. He is the lead researcher in the ‘Vā Moana: space and relationality in Pacific thought and identity’, a Marsden funded research project.
Born in the Tongan village of Tefisi, on the island of Vava`u, Dr Mahina was the only one of 11 children in his family to attend university, graduating from Auckland with a masters degree in social anthropology and a PhD in Pacific history from the Australian National University in Canberra. A keen student of Western philosophy, Dr Mahina says he created his own theory as a way of making sense of the world from an indigenous Pasifika worldview and has continued to develop it. He has published extensively on his Pacific-driven time-space theory. “The ta-va, time-space theory is so general and formal that it enters into all fields of inquiry, within and across nature, mind and society,” he says. Dr Mahina’s writings include a series on Pacific leadership, a collection of political, educational, artistic and philosophical essays, speeches and writings, and a book of his poems in both Tongan and English. Dr Mahina is an accomplished performer of the traditional Tongan instrument, the fangufangu, a bamboo pipe played by blowing through a nostril.