Kermadec: Nine Artists in the South Pacific - Tonga

It is well known that New Zealand and Tonga share much in common. This includes our Polynesian heritage, stories of migration and a range of mutual passions, not the least of which is our love of creative expression, whether through oratory, visual art or performance.

What is not so well known is that while at first glance it appears that we are separated by a vast expanse of ocean, we are in fact connected by it. Deep beneath the Pacific Ocean that spans our two shores lies the world’s longest underwater volcanic arc. This arc connects the North Island of New Zealand to the Tonga’s 10-kilometre-deep trench. It is an extraordinary unexplored world in which both countries can be proud to have a stake.

Everyday expressions of that oceanscape materialise in events that often go unnoticed, such as the annual migration of the humpback whale through Tonga to shelter and breed before departing for the colder waters south of New Zealand. It is important for us to take time to reflect on how extraordinary and special the natural, cultural and historic connections between our two countries are. The Kermadec Exhibition provides an opportunity for such contemplation.

This exhibition brings together work from nine of the South Pacific’s most prestigious and highly acclaimed artists in honour of a journey that they took through the Kermadec region, ending in the Kingdom of Tonga, in May 2011. It is a journey that lives on through the New Zealand High Commission’s hosting of this special exhibition. It is our privilege to share it with the people of Tonga.

Malo ‘aupito.

—Jonathan Austin
New Zealand High Commissioner
Kingdom of Tonga

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