Pacific radio news

Exhibition celebrates Melanesian hair

Posted in: In The Studio,

By Ruci Farrell -

An exhibition showcasing the significance of hair for Melanesian women is providing a group of artists a voice and the rare opportunity to explore new horizons.

Wantok. Photo/ Ufitia Sagapolutele.

Wantok, which kicked off at the Mangere Arts Center in Auckland on Saturday, is a joint effort by Melanesian artists from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, looking at how society shapes and influences the way women wear their hair.

Curator and artist Luisa Tora says she wants young Pacific people to celebrate their hair and the culture it represents.

"The language of 'taming your hair' and 'getting under control my wild mane', that sort of language that tells us our hair is something that needs to be under the thumb," she says.

"All these hair products that tell us that there's something wrong with these beautiful manes that we carry around that's genetic. Our mothers would've had them, our grandmothers, our grandfathers and our dads."

The exhibition is also a part of a year-long celebration marking 125 years since women won the right to vote in New Zealand.

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chair Lemauga Lydia Sosene says Wantok is a refreshing new voice that New Zealand needs to hear and understand.

"Our smaller indigenous communities, they still have a vital voice that New Zealanders want to understand, to be educated and to be empowered."

Wantok runs until May 26. 

Listen to Luisa Tora on Radio 531pi: