Dravuni: Sivia yani na vunilagi - Beyond the Horizon

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Dravuni: Sivia yani na Vunilagi - Beyond the Horizon explores cultural transmission in the digital age, belonging and place-making, legends and storytelling.

This upcoming exhibition at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, from June 24 – October 10, 2016, is a collaboration between Ema and Kaliopate Tavola.

The father-daughter duo have been collaborating on a blog about their island of Dravuni for the last six years. The blog explores the history, legends, social structure and contemporary issues relating to Dravuni from the perspective of a ‘Kaidravuni’, one who is indigenous to the island. This exhibition attempts to illustrate the on and offline connections and conversations the blog has enabled.

"This is a deeply personal project that relates to my relationship with my Dad, our relationship to Dravuni, and the ways that the Internet and the Ocean have become our gateways to the world," says Ema Tavola.

Dravuni is a small island with less than 200 inhabitants. Although there is no airport or roads, there is a cruise ship dock and much of the island’s income stems from tourism. Many visitors comment on the unspoiled beauty of the island, the friendliness of the inhabitants and the snorkelling. However, this exhibition endeavours not only to provide museum visitors with a deeper and more intimate introduction to the island, but also encourages them to reflect on the role of story-telling and the way in which knowledge and information is passed down through generations.

Ema says everyone involved in the exhibition has a connection to Dravuni.

“We have engaged our village weavers, the children of Dravuni descendants, and invited Leilani Kake, Auckland-based videographer and artist, along to document and respond to the process," she says.

The stories, artworks, and video establish a strong Dravuni “voice” as well as create a fresh and welcoming environment in the gallery. It is through the practice of traditional arts like weaving that knowledge is passed on to the next generation. At the close of the exhibition, the large pandanus mat covering the gallery floor, will be gifted to the Museum and the knowledge will continue to be shared.

Some of the children’s illustrations will be applied to textiles and sold to tourists on Dravuni, enabling profits to be directed back into the school.