Putahi Ono 2018, Cook Islands
A Gathering of Polynesian Artists

Supported by Bluesky, Pacific Ink, Toki Creative, CITC Liquor, Turama Photography & Bergman Gallery.

A Bergman Gallery community initiative.

Opening Exhibition: Tuesday 15th May, 6pm @ Bergman Gallery with CITC Liquor.

Stormy Kara, Putahi Ono 2018 Coordinator
Justina Nicholas, Cook Islands National Museum Director, Ministry of Cultural Development, Tauranga Vananga
Don Ratana, Co-Founder, Putahi.

Closing Exhibition Friday 25th May, 6pm @ Bergman Gallery with CITC Liquor.

Shane Andrew, Putahi Ono 2018 Coordinator
Anthony Turua, Secretary, Minister of Cultural Development, Tauranga Vananga
Tavita Latu: Head, Tongan Delegation

Participating Artists by Country

New Caledonia
Francia Boi – Painting
Agourere Patrice – Painting

Lehuanani Waipā Ah Nee – Photography
Joyce Ama Lilly – Hala Weaving
Kini Burke – Carving
Cory Taum – Painting | Street Art
Christian Kapuni – Photography

Kingdom of Tonga
Tavita Latu – Painting

Aimee Ratana – Photography
Don Ratana – Painting
Regan Balzer – Painting
Terina Te Karu – Taa Moko | Mixed Media
Whetu Horo – Painter
Mitchell Tareha – Carving | Painting
Georgia Larkins – Weaving

French Polynesia | Tahiti
Viri Taimana – Painting | Digital Art
Tokainiua Devatine – Installation
Vaihere Taura – Painting | Sculpture
Hihirau Vaitoare – Carving
Herenui Garbutt – Sculpture
Rave Tchoun You Thung Hee – Sculpture
Jean-Luc Tao Chan – Sculpture
Theo Souverain – Painting

Cook Islands
Shane Andrew – Painting | Fabric Design
Stormy Kara – Carving
Raniera Ellison – Carving
Nanave Nanave – Weaving
Teariki Wichman – Street Art

Putahi 2018 Schedule of Events

Carving – Mitchell Tareha & Stormy Kara, Saturday 12th 1.30pm, Atiu Hostel.
Weaving – Georgia Larkins & Nanave Taime,  Monday 14th 1.30pm, Atiu Hostel.
Costume – Kenzo Rima, Tuesday 15th 1.30pm., Atiu Hostel.
Painting – Regan Balzer & Ani Dune, Wednesday 16th 1.30pm, Atiu Hostel.
Photography – Aimee Ratana & Lehua Waipa Ah Nee, Friday 18th 1.30pm @ Bergman Gallery with Intellectual Property & Gallery Management,  Shane Andrew & Ben Bergman, Friday 18th 2.30pm @ Bergman Gallery.

School Partnership
Tuesday 15th Tereora College – Tahitian Artists will visit and present to art students.
Wednesday 16th Nukutere College – Aotearoa and New Caledonian Artists will visit and present to art students.
Thursday 17th Avarua Apii – Hawaiian Artists will visit and present to students.

Public Open workshop
The public is welcome to visit the studio hub (Atiu Hostel) from 1.30pm each day during the gathering.

Artists Talk
Tuesday 22nd 10am, Atiu Hostel.
Artists will give their views about the importance of indigenous art and how it benefits culture, environment and our youth.

Pūtahi Ono Kūki Airani – A Pacific Art Connection.

1am on a weekday morning and most of Rarotonga is asleep. The exception is the Pūtahi Studio Hub where creativity keeps its own hours. Shane Andrew is here, along with around 30 artists from across the Pacific who have come together for Pūtahi Ono Kūki Airani,an intensive two weeks of fully immersive workshops and art creation.

This Pūtahi, the sixth that has been held since it first began in Tahiti back in 2010, is Shane’s second. He attended Pūtahi in Tahiti last year, a first for the Cook Islands, alongside fellow artists Stormy Kara and Raniera Ellison. “It was beautiful,” says Shane. “My Dad asked me if this was all I could say about it, but Pūtahi …it was beautiful. It provided an understanding of how important our work is as indigenous artists – a grounding and understanding of work in the Pacific, where you’ve come from and how you’ve got there. The gathering offers Pacific artists a chance to develop their skills and knowledge alongside like-minded Pacific artists. We have similar traditions in many aspects. It’s kind of a ‘same-same but different’ in a sense where there are similarities like language, food and stories – the list goes on. We gain a real sense of belonging and appreciation for our cultures and art.”

This year Shane and Stormy are hosting Pūtahi in Rarotonga. From the outset their plans have been ambitious – pulling together artists from 6 countries for the first Pūtahi that has been held outside of Aotearoa (New Zealand) or Tahiti, and without the support of an established education institution. “Most importantly for me hosting Pūtahi in the Cook Islands is to broaden our understanding of how important our own indigenous art is,” says Shane. “Andto inspire our youth to pursue their interest in art, and project our culture through the same.”

Newly inspired by their own Pūtahi experience in 2017, Shane and Stormy began the months of planning to pull off the Cook Islands event.  As for all Pūtahi gatherings, the premise is that the artists bring themselves, art work for an opening exhibition and some resources, and everything else is provided for them: the Atiu Hostel would become the Studio Hub for two weeks, opening and closing exhibitions were to be held at Bergman Gallery, a gallery dedicated to modern Pacific art. And there would be a theme ‘Voyaging History of Te Moananui O Kiva’, to “give focus, some structure to the event…voyaging as a connection of indigenous cultures and artists,” says Shane, with each country in attendance to create their own miniature scale voyaging vaka.

Saturday 12 March 2018 arrives and Pūtahi Ono is officially underway. By the afternoon half the artists from Aotearoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, Tonga and New Caledonia have landed, some visiting the Saturday morning markets at Punanga Nui for inspiration and kai (food) before the hard work begins.

Come opening night on Tuesday, and the exhibition at Bergman Gallery is a taster for what will be produced over the next 10 days. There is excited talk between artists and guests, Aotearoa artist, Regan Balzer easy to spot in her striking bubble wrap costume. The Cook Islands is well represented with work by Stormy and Shane, Raniera Ellison, Nanave Taime, Ani Dun, and Teariki Wichman. “We are a group of indigenous artists doing what we do,” says Stormy, at the opening address. “We need to control where our work goes and how it is portrayed.”

With the opening exhibition over the real work can now begin. For Shane and Stormy it’s a hectic time – a juggle of hosting, collaborating and keeping up with their regular life. Open for work all hours, the general public are welcome to visit the Studio Hub during the afternoon. Midday and the buzz of drills leads the way to the jewellery studio where Tahitian students from The Centre des Metiers d’ Art – Tahiti Indigenous Practice Centre, are carving shells for their teams Vaka. Tokainaiua Jean-Daniel Devatine, artist and teacher at The Centre des Metiers d’ Art, is taking a break from carving, the roughly shaped pieces of wood that will form their miniature version of a traditional Tahitian single hull voyaging va’a (vaka) laid out on the floor of the main room.

Upstairs in the painting studio, Regan Balzer is completing a couple of pieces and playing around with some new ideas. She is difficult to recognise out of her bubble wrap ensemble from the night before, which she says was inspired by an environmental themed presentation from Cook Islander Dr Teina Rongo. Her work is about “painting Pacific Islanders and being a Pacific Islander,” she says, her opening series ‘Portrait of a Pacific artist’ showing the strength of Pacific people. This is the third Pūtahi she has been a part of and says that what makes it so great is simply being in this environment and being able to create. “Everyone is encouraged to try something new,” Regan says.  “And it’s the norm – we are all doing the same thing,” adds Whetu Horo, Regan’s daughter, who is working at the next table.

Donn Ratana, wanders into the painting studio. It is almost impossible to talk about the history of Pūtahi without talking about Donn. At 70 years of age, he has generations of experience in creatingand sharing Pacific art, teaching art at Waikato University for the past 30 years. And he tells the story best of how Pūtahi came about in the first place. “Well one day on the way to Tahiti someone said to go up there (to The Centre des Metiers d’ Art)and see the sculptures, and see Viri. And it all went from there,” he says.

Viri Taimana, Director of The Centre des Metiers d’ Art,invited Donn to come back to Tahiti for a joint exhibition. Donn knew some artists from Hawaii who may also be interested. And so Pūtahi One began in 2010, initially with art educators and art students from Aotearoa, Hawaii and Tahiti.

In the following years Pūtahi  journeyed back and forth between University of Waikato, Aotearoa, and The Centre des Metiers d’ Art, Tahiti. Artists from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and New Caledonia have been involved along the way, as the event diversified in termsof the artists represented and the range of media included.“We just like to see what other people are doing around the place – how we go from traditional to contemporary,” says Donn, with a focus on supporting emerging artists and providing a connection for those who are interested in looking at socio-political issues. “Whakawhanaungatanga (making connections) – our roots, our tupuna (ancestors), your tupuna – it’s’ about that.”

Downstairs on the outside deck Kahua Jullian is carving an alaia, a traditional wooden Hawaiian square tail surfboard. “I work with bone, shell, rope and wood,” he says, with a preference for making things that are useful and environmentally sustainable in both their production and disposal. Leading the Hawaiian contingent is Lehuanani Waipā Ah Nee. Photography, such as her stunning images of Hawaiian dancers at the opening exhibition, has always been a part of her life growing up around hula dancing competitions. “I try to tell stories of our people through modern ways,” she says.

Long days at the Studio Hub are broken up by outings to explore the island and presentations by artists and those in the art industry including Ben Bergman, Director of Bergman Gallery. “The Pūtahi gathering has been a fantastic occasion to showcase the roots of modern Pacific art,” says Ben. “Pūtahi not only recognises the profound importance of cultural practise but re-establishes its profile and mana in a contemporary context.”

Aimee Ratana, a photographer and painter and the daughter of Donn, and Tongan born artist Tevita Latu, get out of the studio and into the classroom at Tereora College as part of one of many school visits through the school and country partnership. They talk to students, Tevita paints, and the students experience what can be possible as a Pacific artist.

As the countdown to the closing exhibition begins, the pressure to complete work rises. There are last minute touches, discussions around how the work will be displayed and some tough decisions for the artists and Bergman Gallery on what work will make the cut. It is an incredible number of pieces that have been completed when the closing exhibition rolls round on Friday – solo and collaborative pieces between artists and countries and families, and one painting that is the work of all.

Georgia Larkins-Tareha’s kākahu(cloak) is placed just outside the gallery. Made primarily from muka, a fibre derived from harakeke (flax), there was many months of preparation even before the weaving began. It features attachments: rito and kiriau (fibres from the coconut and ‘au trees) and black pearls from Cook Islands, shells both plain and engraved by Tahitian artists. “It represents everyone here,” says Georgia. “Other people have worked on it and learnt on it – it’s about sharing and learning.”

There is a sense of energy and elation teamed with weariness, aseach country speaks to the impact of the past two weeks – “it looks like us, made by us, for us,” and “we are Oceania – we are people of the ocean, we are islanders,” and “when we come together as artists we do this – we face each other, we have discussions.”

Centre of the gallery are the miniature scale voyaging vaka. Collectively made by each country they are the work of many carvers, weavers and painters. “Our va’a sailed well out on the water,” says Tokainaiuaproudly, the only one of the vaka to take to the sea.

A month later and the artists are all back in their own home countries – and Shane and Stormy have finally caught up on lost sleep. “It surpassed my expectations of what I thought we could achieve together,” says Shane, and, as Regan put it, “it is about the journey here together, the common threads that bring us together.”

And already they are looking ahead, to the next Pūtahi in Hawaii in 2020…Rachel Smith.

Putahi Ono Exhibition Statement 

A Gathering of Polynesian artists: The purpose of the gathering is to give indigenous people the opportunity to work on themes related to heritage, traditional art practices and contemporary art. The founders of Putahi are Don Ratana (senior lecturer, Waikato University), Viri Taimana (Director, The Centre des Metiers d’ Art), and Coordinator Tokainaiua Jean-Daniel Devatine.

Putahi 2017 was hosted at The Centre des Métiers ď Art training center in Papeete , Tahiti. The organizer of Putahi 2107, Viri Taimana, and Coordinator Tokainaiua Jean-Daniel Devatine are dedicated to the visual arts, cultural, sociological and educational process throughout the pacific. Viri Taimana said “The meeting of aspiring artists is essential for the sharing of experience and expertise.”

Don Ratana said “The vision behind the development of ‘Putahi’ was to reconnect [whakawhanaungatanga] in a pedalogical and sociological cultural artistic approach with Polynesian teachers, artists, developing artists and art students during workshops, presentations and living with the tangata whenua of Tahiti-nui for three weeks. Extending our historical relationships with Nga Tangata o Te Moananui a Kiwa/Kiva.”

The two-week 2017 art exchange started on Thursday 16th and finished Friday 30th June 2017.  Artists exchange techniques and traditional practices and worked toward a final exhibition. 7 artists from Hawaii, 1 from New Caledonia, 4 from Tonga, 3 from the Cook Islands, 11 from New Zealand and 12 from Tahiti participated. During the two weeks artists submitted creative works that were presented in three exhibitions. The opening exhibition was housed at Winkle Gallery, Papeete, Tahiti. The second was at the Museum of Tahiti and her Islands, Puna’auia, Tahiti. The final exhibition at the end of the two weeks was presented by The Centre des Metiers d’ Art Training Centre in Papeete.

Putahi Ono 2018 is themed to our rich voyaging history on Te Moananui O Kiva. We as a collective will produce miniature scale voyaging Vaka from each represented nation attending Putahi Ono. Each Vaka will include aspects of all mediums and will be exhibited in the closing exhibition.

Putahi Origins: June 19/July 10- 2010: The first Putahi included three students from the University of Waikato, four Masters of Maori Visual Art students from ‘Te Putahi A Toi’ Massey with Professor Robert Jahnke, two students from the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus with Associate Professor Maile Andrade, artist Chaz Doherty and pproximately twenty students from the Centre des Metiers d’Art.

Putahi 2, was in Aotearoa, University of Waikato, Hamilton, January 4 to 21 January 2011.

June 2012, Putahi 3 was once again held in Tahiti [Papeete,CMA] with artists from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and Aotearoa.

January 2016, Putahi 4 was held at the University of Waikato. This gathering  included artists from Tonga, Aotearoa, New Caledonia, Hawaii and Tahiti.

June 2017, Putahi 5 was held in Papeete, Tahiti, hosted by Viri at The Centre des Metier d’Art. It aligned with the annual HEIVA celebrations held in Tahiti. Cook Islands artist Stormy Kara  presented her technical execution of recycled glass set in resin moulds detailed with her knowledge of Cook Islands motifs. Painter Shane Andrew portrayed the emotions of the 500 Cook Islands soldiers with canvas paint sketches, and Raniera Ellison’s fine carved detailed work was layered on mother of pearl shell and crafted into pendants.

The Cook Islands artists attending Putahi 2017 were presented with the opportunity to host the next gathering. We have gladly accepted the offer and will endeavour to create and maintain the best projection of our Cook Islands culture and hospitality, build relationships between pacific nations, strengthen the local art scene and influence the growth and longevity of our culture and art though our youth.


Putahi Cook Islands 2018 will showcase Cook Islands traditional practice; including weaving baskets, mats and adornments passed down through generations. Carving miniature Vaka that represents our voyaging and navigation by the stars, painting images of our vibrant, living culture, outlining our lifestyle and music and building relationships between Pacific nations through art and preserving our culture.

The Cook Islands PUTAHI team will provide a studio hub (Atiu Hostel) for all artists to create works, artists can utilise the space day and night. The Atiu Hostel studio hub has been selected for its wide-open space, secure from all elements. It will be open to all general public to view and talk with artists.

Two Exhibitions, PUTAHI ONO COOK ISLANDS 2018

The opening Putahi exhibition will be held at Bergman Gallery on Tuesday 15th May from 6pm and will be open to the public for one week. All attending artists will bring submissions for the opening exhibition.

The closing Putahi exhibition will be held at Bergman Gallery,  Friday 25th May and will be open for one month. All created works during the two-week gathering will be on show and all artwork will be for sale.

PUTAHI ONO COOK ISLANDS 2018 Country Partnership: Each country will be partnered with high schools and primary schools on Rarotonga. The partnership is created to encourage and inspire students to further their artistic abilities, pursue creative studies after high school, and instil the idea of artistic career options. We believe that the direct interaction with artists from pacific nations will be empowering for students who believe in their creative abilities.

Each country will ready a presentation including samples of their works which will be featured at their partnered school. The presentation will take place at each school during assembly or art class.The school will also be invited to the studio hub and be given the opportunity to work along side the artist. Each school will also be invited to attend both exhibitions.

PUTAHI ONO COOK ISLANDS 2018 Traditional & Contemporary Practice | Open Presentations:

Carving– Located to the right of the Atiu Hostel. Artists will demonstrate thier techniques through shared skills and work together as a team to produce a fleet of miniature Vaka, each symbolizing the journey our forefathers endured throughout the Pacific. Mother of Pearl shell carving artists will produce motifs etched by hand, utilizing traditional and modern techniques.

Weaving  @ the Studio Hub (Atiu Hostel). Weavers will utilise local fibers, rito, pandanus – creating adornments. Vaka sails and fixtures will also be created by weavers to complement the fleet created by carvers.

Printing & Textiles @ the Studio Hub. Artists will create lino tiles that embody Pacific motifs, symbols and markings, these tiles will be reproduced on paper, fabric and tapa.

Painting @ the Studio Hub. Painters will create various styles utilizing numerous mediums. The execution of high-level paintings will be produced for the closing exhibition.

Graffiti @ the Studio Hub and on location. Street artists to create large-scale work at a location negotiated with Apii Avarua School.

Photography – At  various locations throughout Rarotonga. Photographers will capture the impact of culture in a modern setting.


Opening night exhibition photographs by Turama Photography.