'The Bitter Sweetness of the Space Between': Creative Reflections of Pasifika Ethnic Mixedness
This Master of Arts thesis investigates and draws conclusions regarding how creative arts present accommodating spaces for articulating and understanding cultural mixedness amongst Pacific populations in New Zealand. New Zealand is home to an expanding Pacific population; statistics identify a growing number of these Pacific people who are multi-ethnic, and who are claiming their mixedness in official census data. As Pacific populations have grown, Pacific artists have risen to national prominence in visual, literary and performing arts. Many of these artists have themselves been of mixed ancestry. This thesis examines the work of three female New Zealand artists of mixed Samoan-English or Samoan-Indian descent, asking, “How do these artists and their work express their cultural mixedness?” Discussion centres on mixed media visual artist Niki Hastings-McFall, who is of English and Samoan descent; spoken word poet Grace Taylor, also of English and Samoan descent; and musical performer Aaradhna Patel, who is of Indian and Samoan descent. Placing both the creative work and public commentary of these three artists at its centre, this thesis explores how these artists publicly identify with their Samoan heritage as well as their other heritage(s); how they use their art as a platform for identity articulation; and how creative arts provide flexible and important spaces for self-expression. The thesis draws its theoretical underpinnings from Pacific studies, art history, transnational cultural studies and postcolonial studies, and utilizes Samoan and Tongan conceptions of vā as a key analytic tool.