Q&A: Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine

What’s Hot New Zealand spent five minutes with Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine, whose sixteen-metre tall sculpture VAKA ‘A HINA, will take up residence in Christchurch’s Rauora Park by the end of 2019.

What was the inspiration behind your sculpture VAKA ‘A HINAVaka ‘A Hina was inspired by the legend of Hina and her many voyages to the moon. In Moana Nui pantheon, Hina is the goddess of the moon, tapa-making, weaving, and sharks. She is the matriarch of the famous Maui clan and the guardian of night-time navigation.

Did you always intend to create a sculpture of this scale, or did it start out as something different? Every new sculpture seems to be slighter bigger than the one before. The last sculpture was 2 metres shorter in height and 1 metre narrower in overall width. For this one, there has been no change in the original size since its inception.

How long have you been working on this project? Since March 2017. It is about two years to this unveiling.

How has your experience and rich cultural environment influenced the sculpture? Very highly influenced. I would be denying it if I say it does not. The path I have walked will continue to influence the decisions I make.

You have experience across a number of multi-media disciplines, including architecture and sculpture. Is there any discipline you prefer or find yourself dedicating more time to? This is a tough one. My cultural background dictates that all my disciplines will be under the genre ‘Art’, which are all governed by work of art being useful, meaningful and beautiful. If I was an accountant, when the ledger is balanced as a form of art that it is useful, meaningful and beautiful. At this point in time, I would say, I am enjoying the discipline of architecture as a challenge in both practice and academic.

Do you have any projects you’re currently working on? Yes, there are a number of new exciting projects I am working on.

What’s your favourite piece of art currently in the city? A few. To choose just one, it would be ’STAY’ by Antony Gormley.

What’s currently on high rotation on your playlist? 2pac ‘Only God Can Judge Me’. It shows my age.

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Image credit: SCAPE Public Art