Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine’s VAKA ‘A HINA is a symbol of solidarity and togetherness, transcending cultures and spirituality. It is a lasting legacy of hope.

IMAGE: Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine, VAKA ‘A HINA, 2019. Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Photo by Heather Milne.

About the artwork

Ancient Tongan and Moana Oceania (Pacific) folklore provide the background story for VAKA ‘A HINA (meaning in English ‘Vessel of Hina’). Hina is a Tongan goddess who lives on the moon above the langi (sky) in vāvā (outer space) and travels frequently back and forth to maama (Earth). VAKA ‘A HINA can be imagined as the vessel or receptacle she uses as transportation on these intergalactic trips – it’s her vaka (canoe) – thus evoking ideas of travel, motion and movement.

At 16 metres tall (that’s around five storeys high), and constructed from weathering corten steel, VAKA ‘A HINA has a resolute, continuous presence during day and night, with the ability to illuminate in a spectrum of colours to recognise significant occasions.

VAKA ‘A HINA points to the intersection or connection and separation of tā (time) and vā (space), on the abstract level, and kohi (lines) and va (spaces), on the concrete level, in the production of kupesi (elaborate and complex geometric designs), which move in multidirectional and multidimensional ways.

“As a means of transportation, transformation or projection, VAKA ‘A HINA gives a sense of flight and escape into the realm of vāvā (outer space) away from the domain of vaha (seascape) on maama (Earth), where navigation as an art is conducted at their intersection or connection and separation.” – Artist Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine