samoa (born 1969)

Sunday Afternoon in Apia and Auckland: As a family, the only voyage we took together was the ritual weekly trip to church. I remember every Sunday afternoon leaving Ventura Street in our HQ Holden; our destination the Mangere Pacific Island Presbyterian Church, a place that exemplified both the best and worst of our cultural migration.

Andy Leleisi’uao

Restless Spirits in Mangere: In Samoa, loved ones are buried next to family fale, constant reminders of the respect and traditional values. For my parents’ generation, burial of loved ones in a vast cemetery, secluded from family members, amongst strangers, away from their beloved Samoa is a sad ending to their voyage.

It illustrates much of their history. The isolation. The government pepper-potting. Today Samoans have made these cemeteries their own, headstones garlanded in colourful tropical flowers echoing the nostalgia of a place they will forever call home.

Andy Leleisi’uao
 Sunday Afternoon in Apia and Auckland 2007
 acrylic on canvas
 collection of the artist
 courtesy of Whitespace Gallery

Andy Leleisi’uao recently received the Charles Southwell award from the Rationalist Society for his paintings concerning the life of the Christian Church in Samoa and New Zealand. Their award generously acknowledged the fact that the artist has for many years both celebrated and critiqued the influence of the Church on Pacific people.

In this painting, the artist carefully observes the individual character of everyone present at the Church service with a wonderful humour and unsettling irony. The atmosphere is one of disquieting faith.
 Restless Spirits in Mangere 2007
 acrylic on canvas
 collection of the artist
 courtesy of Whitespace Gallery
Everyone who visits the extensive lawn cemetery at Mangere in Auckland cannot fail to be moved by the numerous grave sites of Samoan immigrants.

Traditionally in Samoa, relatives were often buried close to where their family live. In New Zealand this is never able to occur because of burial laws. Leleisi'uao shows how much the Samoan dead are cherished by the living.