Tongan artist's manulua sculptures flank Auckland Museum's massive hovering tanoa bowl

A Tongan artist’s twin sculptures are a striking feature of the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s new South Atrium space.

Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi is behind the Manulua artworks, which ​are seen on either side of the atrium’s impressive hovering Tanoa bowl.

"I was able to help create the design and from then it went into architecture and then engineering. This year the whole process stopped because of the virus and then we started again until it was finished," says Tohi.

PMN News reports he  says the theme of migration is one of the many meanings behind the Manulua.

“When I got the job I was thinking what sort of artwork can we put on because this is going in the museum, not only that but there’s a Tanoa.

“What I was thinking was the manulua, that’s like a spiritual bird and it represents the migration, journey and navigation.”

Like the creation of Tohi's artwork, the renovation of the museum space has been drawn out, according to Auckland War Memorial Museum Trust Board Chairperson, Orchid Atimalala.​​

“I first came to the board in 2013 and in 2014, we were presented with the first vision concept drawings for the renovation.

“As usual, they are much bigger than what our dollar allows us to build, so we’ve had to work hard to try to get it to this stage in terms of the quality of materials and build.”

The new Te Ao Marama space received a cultural blessing last Saturday morning.

“At the karakia and kava ceremony, I was so overwhelmed by how beautiful this space is and the imprint that the Auckland War Memorial Museum now has for Maori and Pasifika communities, that we led that opening was right and it filled my soul and it filled my heart with joy,” says Atimalala.

She hopes the space will appeal to Pacific and Maori communities.

“It's very much a malae type space and that will attract our people to move in this space and to enjoy this space with others in the Aukilani community.

“It’s a great space for big people like us, big groups and communities who love to be together.” 


Photo PMN News