Artists confront gentrification of south Auckland suburbs

Curator Ema Tavola, left, and photographer Qiane Matata-Sipu are two of the team involved in the #CHANGES exhibition in ...
EMILY FORD/STUFF

Curator Ema Tavola, left, and photographer Qiane Matata-Sipu are two of the team involved in the #CHANGES exhibition in Otahuhu.

 Ema Tavola wants to challenge the changing demographic of her neighbourhood.

The south Auckland artist isn't used to being the only Pacific Islander in the room, but as her Otahuhu suburb has changed over the years that's become the case.

Not comfortable with the gentrification of a predominantly Polynesian community, she's confronting it in a new art exhibition, #CHANGES.

#CHANGES runs until July 28 at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Otahuhu.
EMILY FORD/STUFF

#CHANGES runs until July 28 at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Otahuhu.

Head to Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Otahuhu during July where Tavola's teamed up with six other artists to reflect on cultural transformations of their communities.

For Tavola, the idea of Otahuhu becoming a "city-fringe" neighbourhood and pushing out the Polynesian flavour is a noticeable issue.

"It's creeping inwards. I've noticed new homeowners putting up fences, that changes the community straight away. I see a lot more Pakeha around Otahuhu," Tavola says.

Qiane Matata-Sipu's work involves juxtaposed images that reflect the fight for Ihumatao land.
EMILY FORD/STUFF

Qiane Matata-Sipu's work involves juxtaposed images that reflect the fight for Ihumatao land.

"It's a double edge sword because we benefit from diverse communities and their economic impact."

She doesn't want to see Otahuhu lose its unique high street feel, which is different to other suburbs which have town centres and malls.

"One thing I've always loved about this area is its food culture and going out and interacting with other people over food."

#CHANGES includes photography, graphic design, and drawings to tell stories about gentrification.

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It features work from established artists, as well as some high school students which Tavola says is an opportunity to showcase work from upcoming artists.

Photographer Qiane Matata-Sipu is also featured in the exhibition, highlighting the fight of Mangere residents against housing developments in Ihumatao.

She says she's always been observant of the gentrification of south Auckland, much like in other parts of Auckland.

"I think we tend to forget about Ponsonby and Grey Lynn which were once strong communities with Pacific people who got pushed out," Matata-Sipu says.

"With all these new suburbs being bought what are we losing in that space and what are we sacrificing to have these things?

"My heart and passion comes through my lens, these are relevant issues to all different parts of south Auckland, not just one particular area."

#CHANGES runs until July 28 at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, 507 Great South Road. Tavola is hosting a panel discussion on July 22 from 2pm about gentrification.

For more information go to Tavola's website.  

 - Stuff

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