This study is concerned with representation. It considers the nature of a culturally located, discursive form called veitalatala and its creative translation into designed artifacts that consider the lyrical and graceful nature of Tongan women’s tālanoa.
The designed outcomes of the project consider the memories of three hou’eiki fafine (Tongan women) who left their homeland to settle abroad. Veitalatala: Mātanga ‘o e Tālanoa is a creative synthesis of their tālanoa, into new forms of artistic narrative, designed to capture the cultural and emotional resonance of their identities. The lyrical works orchestrate photography, animation, musical composition, sound design, filmed interviews, graphic design, sublimation printing on ngatu, and extensive postproduction experimentation, into unique texts that move the parameters of traditional documentation beyond conventional audio/visual interview. In so doing, the ngatu portraits and filmic veitalatala conceptually, contribute to the Tongan concept of luva (giving).
Although Churchward (1959) defines veitalatala as a distinctly poetic form of tālanoa, recent interviews with Havea (2014), Puloka (2014), Taliai (2014), Manu’atu, (2014), Taufa (2014), and Taumoepeau (2014) suggest that veitalatala is a complex and nuanced form of communication with diverse origins. Significantly, Tongia (2014) associates the term veitalatala with hou’eiki fafine. He suggests that it is a harmonious form of communication historically and socially related to the female gender.
This thesis proposes through practice, that the tenets of veitalatala may be extended into artistic artifacts to create a contemporary, lyrical, yet culturally consistent means of representing histories and memories of Tongan hou’eiki fafine.