Ema Tavola

Shadow fighting (2007)

Acrylic, PVA glue, Manukau Courier and NZ Herald newspaper cuttings, framed

Ema Tavola (b.1982) is a Fijian-Pākehā artist-curator currently based in South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Having established her painting practice in Suva, Fiji at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, Tavola went on to study Sculpture at Manukau School of Visual Arts and later Arts Management at AUT University.

In 2019, she established an independent gallery and consultancy called Vunilagi Vou which continues to shapeshift in the pandemic climate. Whilst curating is an external, social practice for Tavola, artmaking and painting particularly is Tavola’s internal process of intellectual enquiry and creative meditation.


2023 – Backbone, Vunilagi Vou, South Auckland

2017 – Dark Meat, Tautai, Auckland

2009 – Blood+Bone, St Kevins Arcade, Auckland


2017 – Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Artist Residency, University of Canterbury, Christchurch

2015 – Summer Residency, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Wellington

2014 – School of Art and Design Postgraduate Research Award, AUT University

2013 – Bachelor of Visual Arts Alumni Award, University of Auckland

2012 – Contemporary Pacific Artist, Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards


2022 – Moonwalkerz curated by Nigel Borell, Taste of Pasifika Festival, Auckland

2022 – Volume: Bodies of Knowlege by Community Reading Room curated by Dr Torika Bolatagici, Metro Arts, Queensland, Australia

2021 – Hidden in Plain Sight. From Being Rendered Invisible to Becoming Visible curated by Julia Albrecht and Stephanie Endter, Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt, Germany

2021 – Pussy Fat, Vunilagi Vou, South Auckland

2017 – The Perpetual Flux of Transitional Otherness, Olly, Auckland

2016 – Postcards from Papatoetoe : A Pop-up and pocket exhibition curated by Francis McWhannell, Old Papatoetoe, South Auckland

2011 – diasporadic679, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland

2010 – FRESH10, Fresh Gallery Ōtara, South Auckland

2010 – 30 Ukulele, Village Arts, Hokianga

2009 – Flower Power, Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale (CRAA), Italy

2009 – Pan Pacific Nation curated by Jaimey Hamilton, The Arts at Marks Garage, Hawaii

2008 – VASU: Pacific Women of Power, Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture & Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

2008 – Represent, Fresh Gallery Ōtara, South Auckland

2008 – Flat White Black Pearl curated by Jim Vivieaere, Te Karanga Gallery, Auckland

2007 – Longitude curated by Giles Peterson, The Art Studio, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

2007 – BUY SPEND SAVE NOW, Fresh Gallery Ōtara, South Auckland

2006 – What’s Going On, Fresh Gallery Ōtara, South Auckland

2006 – This is not a love song curated by Eimi Tamua, Artstation, Auckland

2005 – Destinations… curated by Lonnie Hutchinson, Pitt Street Methodist Church, Auckland

2004 – Five by Three, ArtNet Gallery, South Auckland

2004 – Niu Dialogue curated by Jim Vivieaere, Aotea Centre, Auckland

2001 – ANZ National Art Awards, The Playhouse, Suva, Fiji

2001 – Expressions on HIV/AIDS, Sexuality & Empowerment, AIDS Taskforce, Suva, Fiji

2001 – Red Wave Collective, Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture & Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji