God and Tonga

Artist Emily Mafile’o is an Aotearoa-born halfi kasi Tongan. For her series ‘God and Tonga are my Inheritance’ she presents photographs taken during the occasion of the 2015 Tongan King’s coronation, the official crowning of the King Tupou VI, ‘Aho’eitu ‘Uniaki’otonga Tuku’aho Tupou.

Mafile’o documents this significant event from multiple angles and perspectives, looking in detail at the Tauhi vā (socio-spatial relationships). Mafile’o moves through the event photographing people and their surroundings weaving these images back together into a narrative which connects her back to Tonga.

She explores three distinct points of view, in the position of the ‘commoner’, seated for hours, she records the experiences of those around her. In a different mode she takes images by observing the event in her position as a ‘media’ person with a pass which enables her to gain access to the inner sanctum of the proceedings. Another aspect of this body of work is her portraits of individuals – her family and close friends. Mafile’o is capturing her subjects fulfilling fatongia, the obligations duties and responsibilities that are inherited as a Tongan.

Mafile’o offers us multi-faceted documentation of the Tongan King’s coronation both expanding our view and inviting us to reflect on the complexities of life in Tonga.

9 April – 15 May 2016
Nathan Homestead Gallery
70 Hill Road
Manurewa
Auckland