Artist in Residence Programme

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Deadline: 30 March 2023

Creative New Zealand / University of Canterbury Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Artist in Residence

We invite expressions of interest from Pacific artists for a three-month artist in residence position at the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, funded by Creative New Zealand. The applicants will have some expertise and experience in any one of the following areas: fine art, carving, tattooing, music, weaving, pottery, dancing, graphic design, poetry, creative writing, digital art, new media art and other forms of creative expression. The residency aims to promote Pacific artistic innovation to the university community, nationally, regionally and internationally. We are particularly interested to see proposals that engage creatively with ideas relating to environmental protection, climate crisis response and community sustainability. We see this as an opportunity to support practices that contribute to the wellbeing of our communities and planet.

The Creative New Zealand/Macmillan Brown Pacific Artist in Residence Programme has been offered on an annual basis since 1996. Artists have an opportunity to develop new directions in their artistic practice. The programme also supports and promotes the development of Indigenous Pacific art in New Zealand.

The residency is valued at $25,000 and this is to be used for accommodation, travel, daily expenses, and other activity costs. The artist will be required to present the work produced by way of exhibition, performance or seminar presentations during or at the end of the residency. This is a fully-funded exhibition that will include an artist fee and production costs. We will also be looking for artists who are willing to engage and share their work with interested students and staff when available. Participation in university and Pacific community outreach events is also encouraged should such opportunity arises. The artist is required to spend most of the residency period at the University of Canterbury.

Applicants must send in:

  • a copy of updated CV, clearly stating areas of artistic experience and expertise;
  • a one-page project proposal explaining what you want to do including the key ideas/themes of your project; rationale (why you are doing it); output (what you hope to produce); and potential impact (some benefits to the community)

Both of the above must be in a single PDF document. The short-listed applicants may be asked to submit further information if required. The residency is expected to take place between the months of May to October 2023 and the actual start date could be negotiated. Applications should send as a single PDF attachment to Dr Christina Laalaai Tausa ( no later than 5pm (NZ time) on 30 March 2023.

For more information:

Past recipients

Jahra Wasasala is a world-builder, movement psychopomp and writer of realms of Viti/Fiji and Palagi descent, based in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Within the Islands of Viti, she hails from the provinces of Ba and Macuata.
A student of mythology, her own bloodline and deepening her work within ancestral attunement, Jahra utilises her training and specialisation within performance activation, various street dance style techniques and poetic/voice soundscape as a psychopomp for her shape-shifting and storytelling through her public and personal embodiments.

Jahra’s solo and company embodiment works have toured across festivals and performance seasons across Aotearoa, Australia, Hawai’i, New York, Berlin, Guahån and Canada. Jahra has created commissioned embodiments for institutions such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Aotearoa, The Banff Centre in Calgary, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Jahra is deeply invested in the ancestral memory archive of the body that can be accessed through movement and creative excavation within performance.

As a specialist performer, Jahra has featured in dance works from companies such as Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre (Canada), Foster Group (NZ), Ta'alili Company (NZ) and Atamira Dance Company (NZ).

Jahra’s facilitation and mentoring skill is an integral part of her work and has worked with collectives, training instituions and initiatives throughout Aotearoa and overseas such as Rising Voices Movement, Pacific Tongues Festival, Sailing Solo, Action Education Inc, MIXIT Refugee Youth Arts and Red Leap Theatre. Jahra’s movement and poetry intensives work towards enabling participants to emancipate their internal worlds and develop their personal languages within the written and the flesh.


Luisa Keteiyau Tora is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and writer with 10+ years’ experience focusing on indigenous, queer, and feminist themes. She has a community service record developed in human rights advocacy in Fiji and the Pacific folded into her creative practice.

Her 2021 Macmillan Brown Residency allowed her to conduct seminars, and a public exhibition on The Veiqia Project, a Fijian female collective made up of artists, curators, researchers, and academics based in Australia, Hawai’i, and Aotearoa New Zealand. Since forming in 2015, the collective has been at the forefront of developing research of veiqia (Fijian female tattoo practice) and sharing its findings through creative outputs.

An international talanoa with the members of the Veiqia Project attracted a large international and regional audience. There was excellent turnout with Dr Tarisi Vunidilo, of the University of Hawaii, leading the discussion on veiqia. Many Fijians were able to learn about their traditional practices  of veiqia (tattoo) for the first time.

Nina Oberg-Humphries is a multimedia artist whose work explores found identity through the relationship between Pacific and Western traditional knowledge and the changing face of Polynesian people in Aotearoa. She uses heritage Polynesian practices such as Tivaevae, costume and dance, juxtaposed with elements from the Western cannon and popular culture (eg, Opera, Classical music, street art and new materials), to convey issues of identity, social politics and cultural hybridity.

Rather than adhering to Western concepts of art theory and aesthetics, all her work is encompassed by the guiding Polynesian principle of the Va.

“Va is the space between, the betweeness, not empty space, not space that separates but space that relates, that holds separate entities and things together in the Unity-that-is-All, the space
that is
context, giving meaning to things. The meanings change as the relationships/the contexts change.”

Albert Wendt (1996) Tatauing the Post-Colonial Body, Span

The Va gives priority to all connections, all binaries, the past, the present, cultural differences and indifference, everything finds a place in the space between. Here obligations and meaning are determined through relationships and endless negotiation.

For Nina the Va is a source of inspiration and exploration, a place where she can give weight to aspects of art making that may not conform to cultural norms or expectations (Western or Polynesian), yet allow her to find voice, meaning and a sense of personal and cultural affirmation. In this her work is often issue based, politically encoded, and always pays homage to her heritage as a Pacific person.

Tuafale Tanoa’i was the 2019 Pacific Artist in Residence at the University of Canterbury (UC). She is usually based in Auckland where she is known as a community photographer, videographer and DJ.

Also known as Linda T, Tanoa’i is an active participant in Māori, Pacific and LGBTQI+ communities, documenting their activities and stories. She describes herself as a performance, video installation artist with community building and archiving foremost in her motivations. Her work is a vehicle for communities, often disadvantaged, to be heard.

Of Samoan heritage, Tanoa’i gained a Master’s degree in Art and Design with First Class Honours from AUT. She has worked with various organisations, from community to government-led initiatives with a special interest in Pacific women’s health and youth.

During her three-month residency, Tuafale created a new body of work, incorporating a series of interviews already in progress with a new series focussing on stories by Pacific women in Ōtautahi. She also conducted a series of talks, poetry readings and a fashion show.

Tuafale’s final work was showcased in her exhibition – Spontaneous Intentionality - which was opened on 10 July at the Physics Room Gallery, and ran till 4 August 2019. Tuafale generously donated a copy of the Ōtautahi interviews from the exhibition to UC for its permanent collection.

Artist interview during the residency: Bookmarks: Tuafale Tanoa’i with Jessie Muligan, Radio NZ



29 May 2019

Tuafale Tanoa’i is the 2019 Pacific Artist in Residence at the University of Canterbury: “It’s my first time living in Christchurch and I’m looking forward to meeting new communities here, exploring issues and capturing commentary with still and moving images while at UC for the next three months.”

Tanu Gago, a prominent photographer, curator, producer, film maker, photographer, visual artist and queer activist was appointed the 2018 artist in residence for the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (MBC) at the University of Canterbury (UC).

Born in Samoa and raised in South Auckland, Gago maintains a creative and social practice that spans the past six years. His political activism predominantly sits within the fine arts, working in new media, staged portraiture, moving image, film, social marketing and community development. His practice is collaborative and examines cultural framing, decolonisation, social politics, queer activism and gender and sexually diverse narratives.

An interdisciplinary and award-winning photographer, Gago is the cofounder and creative director of Pacific LGBT Arts Collective entitled FAFSWAG. Under Gago’s direction FAFSWAG have carved out credible cultural space within the contemporary arts scene within Auckland.

During his three-month residency, Tanu Gago conducted a series of talks, seminars and a pop up exhibition on campus.

Tanu’s final work was showcased in his exhibition – SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN - which was opened on 4 April at the Physics Room Gallery, and ran till 12 May 2019. Tanu generously donated an art work from the exhibition to UC for its permanent collection.


20 September 2018

Tanu Gago, a prominent photographer, curator, producer, film maker, photographer, visual artist and queer activist has been appointed the 2018 artist in residence for the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury.

South Auckland artist Ema Tavola was appointed at the University of Canterbury Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Artist in Residence for 2017. 

Born in Suva, Fiji, Tavola has lived and worked within the creative sector in South Auckland since 2002. Her research is practice-based and concerned with curating as a mechanism for social inclusion, centralising Pacific ways of seeing, decolonisation and exhibition making as activism. She was the founding curator of Fresh Gallery Ōtara and now talks and blogs frequently on grassroots curating and community engagement.

Tavola has lectured on Pacific art history at Manukau Institute of Technology, and advised on exhibitions including Auckland Museum’s 'Taku Tāmaki: Auckland Stories South' (2016) and 'Home AKL' (2012) at Auckland Art Gallery. She holds a Master of Arts Management and a Bachelor of Visual Arts.

During her three-month residency, Ema produced a curatorial manifesto investigating the role of making, recording and idea visualisation in the act of curating.

Ema’s final work was showcased in her exhibition – Kaitani - which was opened on 25 November at the Physics Room Gallery, and ran till 24 December 2017.


16 June 2017

South Auckland artist Ema Tavola will be the University of Canterbury Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Artist in Residence for 2017.

New Zealand-Samoan artist Ioane Ioane was appointed as the 2016 Artist in Residence for the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury.

A contemporary, modernist Pacific artist, Ioane began his residency at UC in May 2016 following the 12th South Pacific Arts Festival held in Guam where he represented New Zealand and held his solo exhibition at the Guam Museum.

During his three-month residency, Ioane researched the navigational heritage of the Pacific and carved a series of maquettes based on the Samoan va'atele (three-metre canoe).

Ioane's final work was showcased in his exhibition - 'O le malanga malosi tele: a very strong journey' - which was opened on 16 September at the Matariki Building, University of Canterbury, and ran till 07 October.

Ioane appointed UC Pacific Artist in Residence

09 May 2016

New Zealand-Samoan artist Ioane Ioane has been appointed Artist in Residence for the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at UC.

O le malaga malosi tele - a very strong journey

15 September 2016

Showcasing work produced by Ioane Ioane during his 2016 Creative New Zealand/Macmillan Brown Pacific Artist Residency, O le malaga malosi tele provides a glimpse into Samoa's

The Macmillan Brown Centre and Creative New Zealand are delighted to announce that Christchurch-born playwright and scriptwriter, Victor Rodger, is the 2012 Pacific Artist in residence. In 1998 Victor’s first play, 'Sons', won Chapman Tripp Awards for Best New Play and Best New Writer and in 2001 he won the Bruce Mason Playwright Award. His latest play, 'At The Wake' premieres in Palmerston North at the end of July. He has previously been the recipient of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Writers in residency at the University of Hawai’i (2006) and the Ursula Bethell Creative Writers Residency at the University of Canterbury (2009). Since 2000 Victor has also been a scriptwriter for 'Shortland Street'.

Victor has chosen two projects to work on during his residency, both of which use the themes of class, racism and identity.

'Aftershocks' explores the personal aftershocks of four very different family units- two east-side and two west-side - after the devastating February earthquake.

'Can All Read and Write' is inspired by an award ceremony in Christchurch in 2010 where a (white) presenter assured the audience that a group of award-winning (and mainly Pasifika) students could all read and write.

Victor will be at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies in August and September 2012 and will return in November to complete his residency and to host writing workshops.

In 2011, to mark the 15th anniversary of the Macmillan Brown Pacific Artist in residence programme, Fatu Feu’u (the first recipient in 1996) returned to Christchurch to complete a second residency. As part of this, Feu’u researched and wrote a new body of poetry which will be published accompanied by a series of lithographs. The paintings in his exhibition Ola were produced as the foundation for this upcoming publication.

"Father of Pacific art" returns to UC

15 December 2011

Fatu Feu'u, who has been called the "father of Pacific art", has returned to the University of Canterbury as its Artist in Residence after 15 years.

Actress, musician, songwriter, playwright and manager of Pacific Underground, Tanya Muagututi'a was the 2010 Pacific Artist in Residence.

During her residency, Tanya researched and completed the first draft for a play called Scholars. As part of her research about scholarships that were made available for Samoan students from the 1950s-1980, Tanya interviewed and conducted workshops at the Macmillan Brown Centre.

The Macmillan Brown/Creative New Zeland Pacific Artist in residence for 2009 was Tongan-born artist Kulimoeanga 'Stone' Maka. During his residency, Stone drew inspiration from the traditional process of smoking Tongan mats (ta'ovala faka'ahu) and converted this smoking process to canvas. Stone concluded his residency with two exhibitions, at UC and the Centre of Contemporary of Art, entitled 'Faka'ahu-Contemporary Fumage'.

John Ioane was the 2008 Pacific Artist in residence. During his residency John carved and painted on hardboard and resin for his exhibtion entitled '9 Heavens'. The works examined the relationship between Samoa and Tonga and that thousands of years ago both countries lived together in unity.

The 2007 Pacific Artist in residence was Invercargill-based Samoan sculptor Johhny Penisula. Johnny created a series of rock sculptures under the title 'Le folauga me le afe o Tausaga: The voyage to the next Millennium' during his residency and worked with students in the School of Fine Arts.

The 2006 Artist in Residence was Sheyne Tuffery. Sheyne worked on a project entitled 'SaMoa (Sacred Fowl)'. Sheyne produced a series of mixed media murals and computer animation. Sheyne completed his residency with an exhibition at the Salamander Gallery entitled 'Penguins and Buicks'.

The 2005 Pacific Artist in residence was Tusiata Avia. Tusiata will be writing a new book of poetry and drawing on this material for a new stage show. As part of her residency, Tusiata hosted poetry workshops with Pacific Writers' groups.

Our 2004 artist, David Fane, prepared his play on Tamasese and the Mau, which premiered at Christchurch's Court Theatre in 2005. Dave worked with the blessing and support of Tupua Tamasese IV, one the Macmillan Brown Centre's former Visiting Scholars. During his residency, he also continued work with Naked Samoan colleagues in the new feature 'Bro' Town', that premiered on national television in 2004.

In 2003 the Centre broadened its artistic range to include the performing arts, and welcome the selection of a founder and a member of the Pacific Underground as our first performing artists. Erolia Ifopo and Siaosi Mulipola will work under a joint project title named 'Pacific Playwrights'.

Both Erolia and Siaosi deal with issues surrounding the Pacific diaspora and experiences of New Zealand-born Pacific Islanders, contrasting the understandings of culture and family loyalties from a New Zealand perspective, and the historical and cultural depth of the home island society.

Erolia Ifopo

Erolia Ifopo wrote her own commentary, critique and reflection of a Pacific woman/Pacific women in the arts and is interested in 'establishing more in-depth links to the threads of traditional rituals and ceremonies that have influenced and shaped contemporary Pacific arts and artists in New Zealand'.

Siaosi Mulipola

Siaosi has composed 'Paper Flowers – a dance composition about the migration of our Polynesian Mothers, acknowledging their strength and determination to start life in a different environment'.

Lurlene Christiansen

Lurlene completed her residency in September 2002 with an installation of her digital works entitled 'Cha Cha Cha in Blue'.

Emma Kesha

Emma Kesha is a Dunedin-based traditional Samoan weaver. She completed her residency in November 2002 with an installation of her weaving works entitled 'Siva Siva Maia: Come Dance with me'.

Filipe Tohi was the Artist in Residence in 2001. Filipe is a New Plymouth-based Tongan-born sculptor who worked on la lava lashings and sculptures during his residency.

Lonnie Hutchinson, of Samoan and Ngai Tahu descent was the first woman recipient to take up this residency. Lonnie completed her residency with an installation of her works entitled 'Coconut Dreams'.

In 1999, self-taught New Zealand-born Samoan artist, Andy Lelei, took up his residency. Professor Albert Wendt describes Andy as "one of the dynamic New Zealand-born-and-raised artists influencing and changing New Zealand art dramatically". Andy completed his residency by an exhibition of his paintings entitled 'Patterns of my lavalava'.

Niuean born poet, artist and author John Pule followed Michel and took up his residency in 1998. John completed his residency with an exhibition of ten ink drawings entitled 'Tala Mahofihofi: love poems'. John's drawings brought together his writing and imagery.

Fatu's 1996 residency was followed in 1997 by Michel Tuffery. Michel proud of his Samoan/Tahitian/Cook Island heritage completed his residency by an installation of his works entitled 'O le vasa loloto ma le loloa: the wide and deep ocean'. This exhibition reflected Michel's conservation and love for the ocean.

The first recipient of this scholarship in 1996 was well-known Auckland-based Samoan artist Fatu Feu’u. Fatu completed this inaugural residency by an opening exhibition of five paintings of mixed media on canvas entitled 'So'otaga ole Pasifika: Pacific Connections'.