Vea Mafile`o is of Tongan, English/Scottish descent. She was born in Hamilton, New Zealand and raised on a dairy farm in the Waikato. At different times of her childhood she also lived in Tonga.
Vea worked as a scuba diver in Vava`u. She then completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts Degree from Auckland University before completing a Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts majoring in ‘Moving Image Installation’. Vea is currently working in film and television as a freelance Director/Art Director/ Camera OP.
Vea maintains close ties with her Tongan family and often returns with her sister, photographer Emily Mafile`o to Tonga, where she captures the majority of her raw footage. Vea explores issues of her identity and of being multicultural and in recent years she has produced works on Tonga`s political evolution. Her most celebrated work Sunsets on The Kingdom was based on the passing of King Taufa`ahau Tupou IV in 2006. This was the first of a trilogy of installation and film she calls Digital Kava circles. The second, titled Who will douse the Kingdom?, was based on the infamous 2006 September 16th riots. The third piece of work titled The Kingdom of new beginnings celebrates the Coronation of the new king, King George Tupou V in 2007.
Her recent art works explore natural and man made environmental issues in the Kingdom of Tonga mainly in the Ha’apai Island group. Themes include the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Ian and the resulting rise in sea levels.
Vea lives with her family in South Auckland, New Zealand.
Essay by Erika Balsom (2018)
Truth or Consequences (2018)
For My Father’s Kingdom, Penn Museum, Philadelphia, USA
Truth or Consequences, Christchurch Art Gallery; Ashburton Art Gallery
For My Father’s Kingdom, Berlinale, Germany; LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, USA; New Zealand International Film Festival; imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Canada
Truth or Consequences, City Gallery Wellington; CIRCUIT Screening, Auckland
Digital Launima, St Paul St Gallery, Auckland (solo)
2014 Tonga ‘I Onopooni: Tonga Contemporary, Pataka Museum, Porirua
Tongan to the Bone, OTARAcube, Auckland (joint installation with Emily Mafile’o)
No’o Fakataha, Atenisi University, Tonga
2012 Matala No’o Fakataha, Mangere Art Centre, Auckland
2010 'Au Mei Moana - Kava Kuo Heka Festival, Nukualofa, Tonga
2008 Date Line: Contemporary Art of the Pacific, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
2007 Who will douse the kingdom?, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland (solo)
2006 The Sun Sets on The Kingdom, Manukau Institute of Technology Graduation show, Auckland
2011 Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize