Dr Sione Faletau

Hikuongo oe Vai [Resonant tone of Water] (2021)

Video still, edition of 1, fine art print on Epson Premium Lustre 260gsm, framed

Photo by Sam Hartnett

This video still is from a work created and developed during the Covid19 pandemic lockdown. It is made from the extracted audio wave spectrum of the resonant tone of water. Within the audio wave spectrum there are different frequencies ranging from high, medium, and low. The frequencies give me a material that can be manipulated into kupesi (patterns).

This innovative way of creating has opened a new language and a different way of seeing and engaging with kupesi in the contemporary realm.


Dr Sione Faletau (b. 1991) is an Ōtara, South Auckland-based researcher and multidisciplinary artist of Tongan heritage (Taunga, Vava’u / Lakepa, Tongatapu). In 2021, he completed his Doctoral studies at Elam School of Fine Arts situating his work within an exploration of Tongan masculinity from an indigenous perspective. Faletau has realised his ideas in a range of mediums including performance, installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, and video.

During the global pandemic, Faletau’s focus shifted towards sound using sound waves in high, medium, and low frequencies to form digital kupesi or patterns. Using audio from songs and recordings of environments, Faletau’s innovative approach creates a Tongan visual vocabulary of time and space.

Waitemata Harbour – Extraction of the audio wave spectrum of the harbour manipulated into Kupesi (Patterns)
Tuaikaepau (2022)

2022 – Kupesi o Masons Screen curated by CIRCUIT Artist, Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand, Masons Screen, Wellington

2022 – Ongo mei he tapa fa (Sounds from the four corners), Atrium on Takutai for City of Colour Festival – more here

2021 – Kupesi Sisi Huelo’oe Taulanga Waitemata moe Funga Tamaki Makaurau, The Lightship [Ports of Auckland]

2020 – Anga’i Tangata faka-Tonga: Tongan Masculinity Doctoral exhibition, Elam Project Space Gallery

2015 – Ha’amonga curated by Ane Tonga, Ōtara Cube, South Auckland

2014 – Toko’ua curated by Bruce E. Phillips, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland


2022 – Digital Fellowship Programme, Creative New Zealand and Australia Council for the Arts

2021 – Finalist, Gow Langsford Gallery 2021 Art Prize

2015 – Creativity Award, 5th Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards

2013 – Hamish Williamson Memorial Award, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland

2011 – Denise Gerard Scholarship, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland


2022 – Turning a page, sharting a chapter, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland

2022 – ĀTĀVĀ: Tātatau’ata “Marking-symmetry-in-images”, ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland – more here

2021 – Toro Whakaara: Responses to our built environment presented by Architectus, Object Space and Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) Toi Moroki, Christchurch – more here

2015 – Glaistor Ennor Graduate Art Awards – Various Artists, Sanderson Contemporary, Auckland

2014 – Backyard Gesture, BizDojo Ironbank, Auckland

2014 – New Graduates Show, Gus Fisher Gallery

2013 – Close to Home curated by Melanie and Ahilapalapa Rands for Tautai Trust, ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland