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Eight Visual Orators Announced For Pacific Photography Masterclass

Creative New Zealand, in partnership with globally renowned photojournalists from VII Academy, are pleased to announce the eight recipients of its inaugural Pacific photography programme for 2021.

Top row: Niko Talo, Soteria Ieremia, Nick Netzler and Mele Siniva Williams. 

Bottom row: Jasmine Tuiā, Emily Mafile'o, Penina Momoiseā and Trina Edwards.

The 12-week pilot project begins today, Monday 1 November, and aims to grow digital storytelling through the visual medium of photography as a craft and artform.

“Pasifika communities are living on the fault line of 21st-century geopolitics, are on the frontline of the consequences of global warming and live every day with the legacy of violent colonialism, and yet their voices are insufficiently heard,” says CEO of The VII Foundation and VII Academy Gary Knight.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the incredible team put together by Creative New Zealand and collaborate with eight Pasifika photographers to understand and amplify their stories."

The VII Academy programme will be led by head tutor Christopher Morris of VII Photo Agency, an American photojournalist who is best known for his photographs from conflict zones and the White House, but who has also covered a wide range of subjects from human rights to fashion over the last four decades.

Outcomes of the programme include learning how to photograph in a documentary style, create photo narratives and prepare for publication.

“We acknowledge that oratory is an important part of our heritage as Pasifika, so we are thrilled to be joined by some of our Pasifika visual orators to enable them to expand on their digital skill,” says Pacific photographer Raymond Sagapolutele, who is the appointed project lead contracted by Creative New Zealand.

“To work alongside the world’s top photojournalists from VII Academy and share our Pacific storytelling style is what I’m looking forward to.”

Christchurch photojournalist Andrew Reid, board member of both The VII Foundation and New Zealand-based Todd Corporation encourages recipients ‘to look ever more closely at your own communities and tell your own stories’.

“To date, VII Academy has provided tuition and inspiration to over 600 students from around the world, working with them to enhance the art of visual narrative, with a strong ethical emphasis,” he says.

“A fundamental tenet of the VII ecosystem is to empower local visual artists to focus their attentions on their own communities, both widely and in close up.”

The programme has been adapted especially for online delivery recognising that COVID-19 lockdown situations is a reality for many participants.

“It’s been a busy and tough time with COVID-19 as it continues to dominate our lives and that of the arts sector. But it’s really pleasing to know that we can continue to foster international partnerships that add value for our artists,” says Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright.

“This exciting new strategic initiative supports our Pasifika creatives in Aotearoa developing world-class skills for digital storytelling to give them other sustainable career options in future and enhance the presence of our rich Moana worldviews through international collaboration,” says Senior Manager Pacific Arts Makerita Urale.

“With the support coming from Pacific Arts Strategy 2018 – 2023, we are continuing to build and expand our Va Digital Moana focus for our communities’ global digital reach.”

About The VII Foundation

The VII Foundation is an independent, charitable media and education non-profit organization. It was founded in 2001 in response to the challenges faced by photographers and writers to fund long-term investigative journalism projects. It is an independent non-profit structure that secures support for continuing documentary practice and education in media practice. It initiates work that addresses complex social, economic and human rights issues, that challenges authority and inaction, and seeks solutions to seemingly intractable problems. VII Academy is the education branch of The VII Foundation.

About VII Academy

The strategy of VII Academy is to promote, teach, and foster high-quality international journalism in the majority world and underrepresented communities in G20 countries.

It does this by providing tuition-free education to emerging professionals and students from these communities in media practice, visual journalism, narrative, ethics, business, and entrepreneurship, thereby enabling in the long term a culture whereby the information narrative is democratized.

About Creative New Zealand

Creative New Zealand is a Crown entity governed by the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. With guidance of the Art Council, Creative New Zealand encourages, promotes and supports the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders through funding, capability building, our international programme and advocacy.

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