John Pule / Niue/New Zealand b.1962 / Tukulagi tukumuitea (Forever and ever) 2005 / Oil on canvas / Triptych: 199.9 x 199.9cm (each panel) / Purchased 2005 through the Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © John Pule

John Pule
Tukulagi tukumuitea (Forever and ever) 2005

Not Currently on Display

Tukulagi tukumuitea (Forever and ever) is executed in a dramatic palette of red, black and white, and mixes traditional Niuean and personal symbolism with references to Western material culture. The imagery includes buildings, animals (such as pigs and sharks), circular forms from traditional hiapo, aeroplanes and crucifixes.

In the three panels of Tukulagi tukumuitea (Forever and ever) trailing vines of flowers intersect the canvas, while the foreground is occupied by black or red clouds and small, scattered figures and objects. These images are dense with metaphor; for example, the clouds resemble nuclear mushroom clouds, yet according to the artist, they also signify the realm of the spiritual and of metaphor itself.

As John Pule declared in an interview: ‘[my work is] very contemporary but it’s also mixed. Mythology and contemporary issues are the same thing. There is really no difference. Because we are always creating and making up new things as we go along.’Developing his own lexicon of geometric motifs and figurative elements, Pule’s canvases and drawings abound with narrative possibilities, providing a vivid and rich image of contemporary Pacific culture.


1. John Pule, interview with Marian Maguire, October 1999, Paper Graphica Gallery, <>, viewed 27 July 2005.

John Puhiatau Pule is recognised as one of the Pacific region’s most significant artists. Born on the coral atoll of Niue in 1962, he migrated to Auckland Aotearoa New Zealand in 1964, where he currently resides. Pule is self taught and has been working as a writer and artist since the early eighties. Pule works across media as diverse as painting, drawing, printmaking, filmmaking and performance.

Elements of storytelling and poetry are strong in Pule’s work and are combined with visual imagery that reference themes such as migration, colonialism and the inevitable losses associated with sweeping historical and cultural change. Much of Pule’s work draws from his cultural background and engages with the traditional hiapo or Niuean barkcloth, which was popular in the nineteenth century and attempted to document and make sense of the vast changes taking place in Niuean culture during the period of colonisation.