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Pūtahi Ono Kūki Airani 2018

Putahi Ono Exhibition Statement (

A Gathering of Polynesian artists: The purpose of the gathering is to give indigenous people the opportunity to work on themes related to heritage, traditional art practices and contemporary art. The founders of Pūtahi are Don Ratana (senior lecturer, Waikato University), Viri Taimana (Director, The Centre des Metiers d’ Art), and Coordinator Tokainaiua Jean-Daniel Devatine.

Participating Artists by Country

New Caledonia
Francia Boi – Painting
Agourere Patrice – Painting


Lehuanani Waipā Ah Nee – Photography
Joyce Ama Lilly – Hala Weaving
Kini Burke – Carving
Cory Taum – Painting | Street Art
Christian Kapuni – Photography

Kingdom of Tonga
Tavita Latu – Painting

Aimee Ratana – Photography
Don Ratana – Painting
Regan Balzer – Painting
Terina Te Karu – Taa Moko | Mixed Media
Whetu Horo – Painter
Mitchell Tareha – Carving | Painting
Georgia Larkins – Weaving


French Polynesia | Tahiti
Viri Taimana – Painting | Digital Art
Tokainiua Devatine – Installation
Vaihere Taura – Painting | Sculpture
Hihirau Vaitoare – Carving
Herenui Garbutt – Sculpture
Rave Tchoun You Thung Hee – Sculpture
Jean-Luc Tao Chan – Sculpture
Theo Souverain – Painting


Cook Islands
Shane Andrew – Painting | Fabric Design
Stormy Kara – Carving
Raniera Ellison – Carving
Nanave Nanave – Weaving
Teariki Wichman – Street Art

On 14 May 2018, Dr. Teina Rongo of Kōrero o te `Ōrau was invited by Pūtahi Ono 2018 Coordinator, Tuaeu Shane Andrew, to present to artists from Aotearoa, Hawai'i, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands.  Dr Rongo was very excited to be a part of this special event with the Cook Islands hosting for the first time, and was grateful for the opportunity to speak about local and traditional knowledge and climate change issues.  He hoped that through simple conversations and mutual connections, artists would consider incorporating climate change issues into their artwork to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.  It was a session of fruitful discussion and knowledge sharing among all.

On 15 May 2019, Dr Rongo and Jackie Rongo attended the Opening Exhibition at Bergman Gallery.  The masterpieces on display were windows into each individual artist's specialty and skill. 

One particular painting caught Jackie's attention...
It was a piece by Aotearoa artist, Regan Balzer, who Jackie — admiring the colours, symbols, and texture of the artwork — had an opportunity to discuss the painting with:  
Regan shared, "this artwork was started in the North of the Pacific when I attended the Evergreen Long House Indigenous Artists Gathering in Washington State.  It was then taken to my home in Aotearoa where I finished painting it.  Then, on taking the piece to Rarotonga, I finished it by stretching it for hanging.  The Wheke represents the connection between all the islands of the Pacific (Te Wheke o te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa). 
In their conversation, Regan informed the Rongos that it was Teina's presentation to their group that inspired her plastic evening wear for the night.  The Rongos were very inspired to hear how simple conversations had already begun to translate into meaningful action, which was the very goal of the discussions the day before!

Right to left: Dr Teina Rongo of Kōrero o te `Ōrau with Pacific artists, Regan Balzer from Aotearoa, Herenui Garbutt from Tahiti, and Joyce Ama Lilly from Hawai'i at the opening exhibition of their work as part of Pūtahi Ono Kuki Airani 2018.

The closing exhibition for Pūtahi Ono was held on 25 May 2018.  Unfortunately, the Rongos could not attend due to other commitments.  A couple days after the closing, Pūtahi Ono Coodinator Tuaeu Shane Andrew contacted the Rongos with thanks that their story had been shared with the artists, and that their team would love for them to have a piece of the gathering: Regan Balzer's opening submission gifted by the artist!
     "Climate change affects everyone. Let's use ink and anything we have to make positive changes for our
      environment.  Thank you to people like you, Teina and Jackie, for working to save our environment, our 
      people and our world." 
                                                                                                                                                   —  Regan Balzer

Pūtahi Ono 2018 Coordinator, Tuaeu Shane Andrew (right) presenting Dr Teina Rongo of Kōrero o te `Ōrau with a gift "Te Wheke o te Moana-nui-o-Kiva" from Aotearoa artist, Regan Balzer.  

The Rongos were very appreciative to Tuaeu and the Pūtahi Ono team for including them in this very important event, and were very humbled by Regan's gift.  On behalf of Kōrero o te `Ōrau, best wishes to the Putahi team and artists in all of their future endeavours!  Tei mua tatou!

Writer Jackie Rongo is the Assistant Secretary of Kōrero o te `Ōrau.  For more information on the NGO and to support their work, please email

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