Tupu’anga ʻo Leiti

Artist: Manuha’apai Vaeatangitau
Curated by: Jessica Palalagi
Guest Writer: Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua


They appear out of fog with no
predecessor (no mother or father).

They are produced at the moment
before light enters the earth. When

everything is rendered in flat dimension
and all that is audible are the murmurs

of a confused womb. Break! And they
break free. And free. And free.


Freedom: in their nowness, in their
specificity. Free to roam like the

archipelago of cloud that now frames
the earth. The earth itself inchoate and

humbled. And they are an irruption into
it. A conflation - a whole - a catalysis.


They gather seed and soil and construct
gardens. They pray and laugh over what

will one day become the earth’s ruins
(they intuit that the earth will ruin;

will return to what it was before light
entered the earth). They pray and laugh

and pray and laugh. They have decided that
the point of living is not to construct

absolute conventions but to remain as
they did in the fog. Immanent within the

earth’s existence but not reliant on it.
To be ancient is to know this.

      –     Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua

Manuha’apai Vaeatangitau is an interdisciplinary artist, practicing across the mediums of illustration, poetry, performance and music. Of Tongan descent, their practice centres the re-contextualising and re imagining of the Leiti experience and its expressions. Manuha’apai’s relationship to Ancient Tonga and the modern world lay the groundwork of many of their illustrations.

Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua is a writer and curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau. They are a contributing writer for Artforum International and a curator at St Paul St Gallery, AUT.