Edith Amituanai / Aotearoa New Zealand b.1980 / Don blasting the ocean (from ‘La’u Pele Moana (My darling Moana)’ series) 2021 / Archival pigment print on Giclée paper, ed.1/5 / 90 x 111cm / Commissioned for APT10. Purchased 2021 with funds from the Jennifer Taylor Bequest through the QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: QAGOMA / © Edith Amituanai

Edith Amituanai
Don blasting the ocean 2021

Not Currently on Display

For the series ‘La’u Pele Moana (My darling Moana)’, Edith Amituanai worked with friends and family based in Auckland to explore Moana (the Pacific Ocean) as a place of longing and aspiration. Amituanai focused on Samoans who have travelled — or want to travel — across this ocean to Australia, ‘the land of milk and honey’. Through both moving and still images, Amituanai explores their dreams and realities, and shows the deep respect she has for her subjects and the intimacy she is able to establish as a result.

The title of the series refers to a popular 1981 love song by Samoan band the Golden Ali’is.1 Amituanai’s ‘La’u Pele Moana’ is a love song for lands and connections left behind in pursuit of new opportunities as well a lament for ways in which we have become unfaithful to the ocean that is so fundamental to life. In Don blasting the ocean we see Don on his bicycle playing ‘La’u Pele Moana’ through his siren to the ocean that separates Australia and New Zealand.


1 Muliaga Mamaia, ‘La’u Pele Moana’, performed by The Golden Ali’is, 1981.

Edith Amituanai’s photography creates sites of social connection and belonging, particularly for the largely underrepresented Pasifika, youth and refugee communities among whom she lives and works in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad. Her images often take the form of portraits and are co-created with their subjects to make visible the ways in which these individuals and communities picture themselves and the world they live in.

Amituanai is the daughter of a Samoan couple who left the land of their birth in search of the opportunities and lifestyle available on the bigger islands of Aotearoa. She grew up in Auckland, in the largest Polynesian diaspora community in the world. Within this community, Australia is often considered the next big step and many Samoan families — including Amituanai’s own — have members residing across the three island nations.