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$500,000 Investment In Pasifika Storytelling

16 May 2022
A "ground-breaking" new initiative from two key agencies is set to open new doors and create opportunities that bring creatives in Aotearoa and the Pacific Islands together.

Collaboration is critical in the arts - and the latest example is proving a major fillip for the sector. 

This morning, Creative New Zealand (CNZ) and the Ministry of Foreigh Affairs and Tourism (MFAT) have revealed their first ever formal partnership between the two organisations. It’s been set up to support Pasifika artists and creatives both here in Aotearoa and through the Pacific Islands to share skills and knowledge through a new Digital Moana Nui a Kiva initiative.

The deal will see CNZ and MFAT split the bill on the $500,000 budget, with CNZ looking to deliver on these new initiatives by December 2022. 

The partnership has been negotiated and developed under Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Strategy 2018–2023 and aligns with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) new Pacific Resilience focus, which aims to promote a peaceful, prosperous, and resilient Pacific.

Details are also emerging about what exactly this partnership is due to deliver.

The digital initiatives will focus on several themes: Global Moana Storytellers and Digital Collaborations, with an early concept for a Digital Moana Festival in development by CNZ.

Among the projects due to be brought to fruition, a photo-journalism masterclass will develop industry and technical skills to enhance the ability of 10 creatives - five from Aotearoa and five from the Pacific Islands - to share the visual stories of their communities with the world. 

Individual independent artists from Aotearoa and the Pacific will also be invited to work on a project - in a buddy-to-buddy approach - that centres on support, knowledge sharing and creative innovation.

Two of the smaller Island nations and their wider communities - Tuvalu and Rotuma - are the centre of publishing collaborations, supporting the maintenance and transmission of cultural knowledge. It’s hoped this spotlight on their respective cultural and artistic practises will become valuable resources for younger generations and can be shared with the world.

So too will the ten video profiles of artists - which is being created in partnership with Tikilounge Productions, owners of the biggest Pacific arts and culture websites on the globe, Coconet TV. So this project is already advancing rapidly, with confirmation that filming in Tonga has been completed, providing paid work for the local film crew and creative talent that supports the local creative economy and resilience. 

Creative reaction

Caren Rangi, Chair of the Arts Council - which governs CNZ - states “we’re passionate about the arts and creativity as a powerful force to shape prosperity, meaningful relationships, opportunities and wellbeing for communities everywhere. 

“We hope our new partnership will enable better collaboration across government for shared resources, and new opportunities, for Aotearoa New Zealand creatives.”

CNZ Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright adds “we’re thrilled that MFAT sees the value arts and culture can play in building stronger relationships and knowledge-sharing between Aotearoa New Zealand-based Pasifika artists and creatives in Oceania through these digital initiatives which have been specifically designed to be delivered in the context of COVID-19.” 

Director of the Pacifica Arts Centre - based in Tāmaki Makaurau’s Corban Estate Jarcinda Stowers-Ama was fizzing about the news when contacted by The Big Idea, calling the announcement “ground-breaking”.

 Regarding the impact these new resources and opportunities can make, Stowers-Ama delcares “the initiative supports resilience within our communities, by providing an opportunity to create, capture and share our own unique stories, arts and cultures.

“The use of digital transmission ensures that communities can access and pass on knowledge now and for generations to come.”