Moana Oceania - Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi

Moana Oceania

What are Moana Oceania arts?

Toluma‘anave Barbara Makuati-Afitu and Kolokesa U. Māhina-Tuai of Lagi-Maama Academy & Consultancy were commissioned by Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi in January 2020 to carry out a scoping research on the arts of Moana Oceania. The name ‘Moana Oceania’ is used in place of the imposed and problematic term ‘Pacific’ to empower and privilege Indigenous languages and perspectives. It embodies worldviews that are strongly connected to Aotearoa New Zealand but have their roots in the wider Moana Oceania region.  Click here for the overview.

This report offers an insight into Indigenous worldviews of ‘what art is’ from different Moana Oceania communities living in Tāmaki Makaurau.  Of the 17 Moana Oceania island nations identified in the 2013 census, 15 have the majority of their population living in Tāmaki Makaurau. Nine of these communities are represented in the report; Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai'i, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Rotuma, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

The purpose of the report was to help address a knowledge gap in the mainstream arts sector of a more cross-cultural approach and understanding around what art is.

The research involved engaging directly with cultural experts from Moana Oceania communities (in Aotearoa and abroad) to find out how art is organised within and across all levels of their respective cultures. Lagi-Maama took an holistic approach to the work, recognising that knowledge does not exist outside of cultures and languages, and that all three components are inseparable, where knowledge is composed within the cultures and languages of Moana Oceania.

While Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi continues to support this initiative, Lagi-Maama moved into a second phase of 'Arts' of Moana Oceania and Tok Stori Tuesdays in partnership with Pacific Cooperation Foundation. This focused on the island nations of Tuvalu, Tokelau and Vanuatu.  Now in its third phase partnership with Pacific Cooperation Foundation the focus is on Pitcairn, Tahiti, Banaba and Naoero / Nauru.

To read more about Phase II and Phase III, visit

‘Tok Stori’ in Context

We draw on the knowledge of one of our contributors to 'Arts' of Moana Oceania, Dr Kabini Sanga, to contextualise the concept and practice of 'Tok Stori' and he explains that: “Tok stori, a form of discursive communication, is an everyday occurrence in the Western Moana Oceania region. To speak of tok stori is to invoke a way of negotiating with the social world. In tok stori, storying is something one does together: a story is constructed by speakers and listeners. Tok stori takes place when people interchange and exchange, creating a collective experience in which the development of relationships is both an accompaniment to, and a purpose of, storying. Group activity which develops knowledge is the stuff of life in Western Moana Oceania societies: this truth is embodied in the everyday nature of tok stori." 

Check out this this blog for more on tok stori by Dr Kabini Sanga & Dr Martyn Reynolds: 

Please click on the images below for further information on the gifts from our contributors.