ʻATENISI INSTITUTE

An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

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Lātūselu hall

July 2018 – Siasau Peppers PowerPoint Projection of Ancient Ha’apai Temples and God-houses

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Visesio Siasau, Dr Scott Hamilton and Nicholas Sowizral

On 23 July prize-winning Tongan-Kiwi artist Visesio Siasau joined former ‘Atenisi associate dean Dr Scott Hamilton and Tongan-American undergraduate Nicholas Sowizral in staging a PowerPoint presentation of their recent archaeological expedition to Ha’apai.

In their visit the trio stumbled across the remains of ancient temples and god-houses, some of which have been incorporated into conteporary churches and houses. And on rocks hugging the coasts of Foa and Luahoko islands, they discovered ancient petroglyphs, some of which are eerily similar to ancient Hawaiian engravings.

Siasau and Sowizral also found time to interview elders in several villages regarding local knowledge of ancient art, spiritual practice, and herbal medicine.

The presentation was at times peppered by the symbolic lens through which Siasau views Tongan culture. “There are positive and negative polarities," he noted at one point: “men/women, form/function ...”

The artist holds a Master’s degree from the Buck Nin School of Fine Arts at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. He was the exclusive winner of Creative New Zealand’s Arts Pasifika award in 2010. And for his chronicle of Tongan history on tapa bark, he received the Paramount Award from the Wallace Art Trust in 2015, which subsequently sponsored his six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York.