Sione Faletau

Toroa / Toloa

8 January 2024 - 3 March 2024

You are not alone, Toroa. A taniwha once tried to break out

of the harbour for the open sea. He failed.

He is lonely. From the top of the mountain nearby he calls

to you: Haeremai, haeremai, welcome home, traveller.

Your head tilts, your eyes open to the world.1


In this work Sione Faletau employs audio waveforms, transforming them into kupesi patterns, responding to Hone Tuwhare’s poem Toroa: Albatross (1987). Toroa/Toloa comprises a digital soundscape, using audio waves rotating at 3.5 degrees per second, acknowledging the expansive wingspan of the toroa. The ongo fakafa’ahikehe minor sound of the fangufangu2, Tongan nose flute, plays the first two kupu verses of a 25-verse long voyaging poem called Me’etu’upaki. These verses act as gestural prayers to the gods of peau/ ngalu waves Lulu and matangi winds Lātū for divine protection and favourable voyaging conditions. The remaining verses honour the knowledge and skills of navigators, able to traverse the Pacific Moana from Kiribati to Tuvalu, through Futuna and ‘Uvea, Sāmoa and Fiji to Tonga where they celebrated their safe voyage with kava, song and dance.3

Dr Sione Manu Finau Faletau performs the act of talanoa by utilising sound and patterns such as kupesi to illustrate Pacific narratives in his practice. Faletau connects through his whakapapa to the villages of Taunga, Vava’u and Lakepa, Tongatapu, Tonga and resides and works in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. In 2013 Faletau graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts followed by a Masters degree in 2015 at the University of Auckland Waipapa Taumata Rau. After receiving a Prime Minister’s Youth Award and a scholarship from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2016, he completed a Doctor of Fine Arts.

Toroa/Toloa is part of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s Rear Window Moving Image Programme, which showcases moving image works by contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas artists.


1. Hone Tuwhare. Toroa: Albatross. 1987
2. Meleseini Haitelenisia Fifita. ‘O Lakepa Lolohea Fetu’u Tuai, tā/ifi fangufangu nose-flutist. Recorded 27 July 20213. Hanahiva Rose. The Long Waves of our ocean. National Library, Wellington, 2022

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This screening of Toroa/Toloa coincides with the yearly hatching of toroa, Northern royal albatross chicks, born at Taiaroa Head, Pukekura between late January and early February. Taiaroa Head sits alongside Pukekura Pā and is a wāhi tapu, a sacred space, honoured by mana whenua. Taiaroa Head provides the only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross in the world. The QR code below will lead you to the DOC-run live webcam:

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