New Pacific art curator role at Auckland art gallery

The largest art gallery in New Zealand has appointed its first Pacific Art Curator, the Tongan artist Ane Tonga.

Ms Tonga started this month at the Auckland Art Gallery.

Ms Tonga will work to increase engagement with Pacific artists, including collection and exhibition development.

She was enthusiastic about the opportunity to shape a new direction for Pacific art, and said it was unreal when she got told she had the job.

"It's overwhelming because this has been a very long time coming. It is an important moment for me, but also the Pacific community in Auckland and further abroad...

"What my job means is looking at our collection again, doing some research to figure out the jewels and the crown of the collecting practice before this.

"I will be enhancing records we hold of artists and Pacific art so far."

Ms Tonga hoped her role would give greater visibility to Pacific art, narratives, and experiences in the gallery's collection.

"My long-term vision is that it will create a precedent for the types of infrastructure that's needed in galleries and museums, that we do foster these types of roles, and that after me there will be many other curators of Pacific art in my place."

Ms Tonga has 10 years of curatorial experience across museums and galleries in Aotearoa New Zealand.

She has previously been lead exhibitions curator at Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa and prior to that was assistant curator at Te Papa.

Auckland Art Gallery's Head of Curatorial and Exhibitions Sarah Farrar said they were thrilled to appoint Ms Tonga.

"She has established herself as a thought leader in Pacific and contemporary art in Aotearoa"

"Ane has a track record of generating new research, writing and curatorial projects on Pacific art and cultural heritage through her work at art institutions throughout the country."