tui emma gillies exhibit Wananga landing

Tui Emma Gillies Explores the Intersection of Indigenous Arts and Technological Innovation

30 April 2024

CHRISTCHURCH, 30 April 2024 --- Tui Emma Gillies, Resident Artist of the Macmillan Brown Center for Pacific Studies (MBC), University of Canterbury, opened her first solo exhibition at the Fibre Gallery on Friday the 5th of April. This exhibition is entitled View from the Deep and is open until the 24th of May.

"I want to present the intersection between ngatu (tapa cloth) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)," says Tui.

Tui Emma Gillies is a renowned New Zealand Tongan artist specialising in ngatu (tapa cloth) where her unique style blends contemporary elements with traditional techniques. Her work is known for its bold and thought-provoking nature, often challenging conventional norms and sparking conversations. Despite its confrontational aspects, her art always pays homage to the origins of the medium and the ancestral practices that precede her. Having exhibited across various countries, including New Zealand, Tonga, Australia, the UK, and the USA, she also had the privilege of presenting her art internationally in Austria, Hawai’i, United Kingdom, Spain, China, and Australia. In 2018, she was honored with the Creative New Zealand Pacific Heritage Award, recognising her significant contributions to the art world. Her works are proudly housed in esteemed collections worldwide, such as the National Maritime Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum, GRASSI Museum in Germany, National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Pick Museum of Anthropology in Illinois, USA, Te Fare Iamanaha-Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, and Te Papa. Each piece reflects her deep connection to her heritage and the cultural narratives she aims to preserve and celebrate through art.

Each year, the University of Canterbury, with the support of Creative New Zealand, hosts the Pacific Artist in Residence for three (3) months. Artists engage critically and creatively with important topics such as Indigenous Peoples, poverty, welfare, social justice, equality, human rights, and the environment.

The exhibition View from the Deep combines technology, Indigenous art, Pasifika view, and community. As a Pacific artist supported by the University of Canterbury, Tui uses her work to explore how Indigenous artistic practices are embedded in technological innovations contextualised on issues of rapid global change such as the climate crisis, the environment, equality, and human rights.

For further information, please contact MBC administrator, Holly Neave (

tui emma gillies portrait

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