An interview with the Dowager Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa by Tanya Edwards is now online. The Dowager Lady Fielakepa is the Kingdom of Tonga’s foremost knowledge-holder of koloa. Today aged 83, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa has witnessed the transformation of Tongan society from its village basis and through modernisation into a part of the kaleidoscopic worlds of contemporary globality. In 1947 she was among the first ‘pioneer’ students of secondary education in Tonga, and in 1954 she was among the first nineteen students within Tonga selected and sent to receive a tertiary education in Auckland as part of a national programme of modernisation.
Oku hounga ia a e Artspace Aotearoa ke fakaha a e "Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo e Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology. Ko e tu'o tolu eni e fakaha ngaahi Koloa ni; 'Oku fakamamafa pea e katonga'i, e mahuinga pea mo e laukau 'aki etau Koloa FakaTonga a ha'a Fafine, ngaue fakamea'a , ngaahi founga motu'a, mo e fakakoloa aki etau ngaahi katoanga fakafonua.
Artspace Aotearoa is proud to present the third international iteration of Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo e Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology; an exhibition that centres on the significance of the female artistic lineage of Tongan koloa, to generate a transformative-context in which female Indigenous practises are a pivotal cultural force.
The exhibition brings to Aotearoa over ninety unique ngatu / barkcloth works from the collection of Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa, revered as the foremost authority on customary Tongan art practices in the Kingdom of Tonga. Her wealth of knowledge has and continues to be called upon by museums and institutions as an advisory, and contributor to global Indiginous scholarship.
In 2019, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa exhibited her extensive collection of rare and new Tongan artworks in Koloa: Women, Art and Textiles, an exhibition at Langafonua ‘a Fafine, Tonga. This site was established in 1953 by Queen Sālote Tupou III, as a historic centre for women’s customary arts. The exhibition was a momentous cotemporal occasion; it paid tribute to the cultural and social significance of koloa art practises while honoring the Dowager Lady Fielakepa for her life-long commitment to, and passion for the endurance and vitality of these diverse practices. (Koloa connotes something of treasured value; interchangeable material and immaterial wealth.)
Koloa was shown for a second time at independent art space Para Site, Hong Kong, in an expanded exhibition that included work by contemporary female practitioners: Tanya Edwards (Tongan, Māori, Tainui), Nikau Hindin (Ngai Tūpoto, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) and Vaimaila Urale (Sāmoa). For this third iteration of Koloa, Artspace Aotearoa focusses on the potentiality that these female practitioners embody, making-vital Indigenous narratives and knowledge while generating progressive perspectives through adaptive contemporary methodologies.
Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo e Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology (2020, Para Site, Hong Kong) was co-curated by Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa, with Cosmin Costinas and Vivian Ziherl.
This exhibition is made possible with the support of the Auckland Regional Council, Creative New Zealand, Foundation North.