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Beyond Essentialism: Contemporary Moana Art from Aotearoa New Zealand

Janet Lilo, Don’t Dream It’s Over, 2016, banana light posts. Photograph: Michael Lewis. Courtesy the artist
In the face of imperial rhetoric, Lana Lopesi explores the diverse and localised forms of Moana art. The ocean that Maualaivao Albert Wendt writes about has many names. It is called Te Moana Nui a Kiwa here in Aotearoa New Zealand,  the great ocean of Kiwa. Kiwa is also the name of the guardian of the ocean and son of Papat¯u¯anuku and Ranginui. It is known as Moan¯akea in Hawai‘i, which acknowledges it as a great ocean where the energy ‘cannot be harnessed’. Moana means ocean in the S¯amoa, Tonga, Niue and Tahiti languages. Scholars ¯Okusitino M¯ahina, Kolokesa M¯ahina-Tuai and T¯evita Ka‘ili have picked up on how the term moana centres indigenous commonality, providing a way to discuss this part of the world.