Delighting in Diversity

We really appreciate the wealth of cultural activities available in Auckland.  The Auckland Writers’ Festival and Film  Festivals , and the Auckland Photography Festival, have provided  an extraordinary range of events in May, June and July.  And then there are live theatre shows, art galleries and community activities as well. 

Of course our choices from the  cultural smorgasbord on offer reflect our personal, political and social values:   support for Maori rangatiratanga,  women’s experiences, especially lesbian, and environmental issues; and appreciation of cultural and ethnic diversity. 

Q Theatre 

Auckland is lucky to have Q Theatre, which presents anything from radical new drama,  dance, comedy, cabaret and  mixed-media performance, from many different cultural groups, to stage classics and chamber music. In the last month we’ve been  to Feminists Are Funny, featuring 16 different NZ women comedians in a fundraiser for the Auckland Women’s Centre, and Cell-Fish– a sharp Maori commentary on prisons and those who live or work in them, weaving te reo Maori and Macbeth in a powerful performance.  Next week we’ll see a new work, Sightings, starring five young women in a Massive Theatre Company production.

 If you’re coming to the city, see

World Refugee Day

On Saturday 23 June we went to the Mangere Refugee  Resettlement Centre to enjoy a day of celebration through dance, song and food.  Our friends from W.H.O (Women of Hope: Helping Ourselves) , supported by Ranui Action Project, were there to present a play about the DR Congo today: 

  • a woman  entered carrying produce on her head to the market.  She was attacked by a thug and her fruit stolen; an old woman carrying a bundle of sticks was pushed to the ground and threatened with a gun by a soldier .
  • a young girlfrom the group stepped forward and explained the troubled situation in the Congo
  • Mother and daughter Lema and Amani asked all those in the audience with cell phones to stand, and sang a  song they had composed about coltan, the conflict mineral used in cellphones and other electronic gear. Coltan is being mined in DR Congo by all sorts of violent outside – and some inside- groups,  who enslave, rape or kill many Congolese people.
  • finally, the group did a joyful  dance, affirming their traditional culture and expressing  their gratitude at being safe, and welcome, here.

Their performance had many of the audience in tears.

Several other cultural groups performed too- the  leaping male Burundi drummers were a special hit.  We enjoyed the spicy ginger coffee served by Iraqui women, and the Congolese feast  after the performances. 

Interviewing  Auckland artist Tuafale Tanoai’i (aka Linda T)

Charmaine was recently asked to interview an interesting Auckland artist  for a  lesbian newsletter.  She has known Linda T. – now using her real family name Tuafale-  since AGGS days, and brought her in to work with students during the 1997 Hillary College rescue mission. She has seen Linda/Tuafale develop from a bouncy fifteen-year-old schoolgirl in a form class rock band to a respected  DJ, activist and multi-media artist who has had exhibitions throughout Aotearoa, and overseas.We have met Tuafale many times through her activities -she once even recorded an interview with us in a container in Aotea Square as part of an Auckland Arts Festival installation she was creating.

 Tuafale  engages in documentary and installation art which she gives back to the communities she works in, and has recorded images from thousands of events around Aotearoa, especially festivals, protests, social occasions and Pasifika family activities. We saw her in June at the opening of her Corban Estate Arts Centre exhibition of some of her 40 years of photographs and films.  A few days later she came round to our place, just before leaving for the USA with a friend to enjoy the Essence music festival- and, of course, to record her experiences.  

Tuafale Tanoai’i (aka Linda T.)

Tuafale talked enthusiastically for three hours with us.  Her story is a moving mix of creativity, poverty, social activism, sickness and healing, fun and tragedy, racism and institutional barriers, eventual academic achievement and acceptance as an artist , on-going challenges  and the continuing support of women, especially lesbians.   

There is an outstanding article about Tuafale  and her work by Ioana Gordon-Smith  in on-line arts journal  Pantograph Punch:

 Do read it for Tuafale’s own descriptions of her work, and for Ioana’s very thoughtful and creative commentary- a work of art in itself.


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