Taken from ‘Aotea Centre Works of Art’, edited by Tara Werner, written by Karen Scherer and Katherine Findlay.
‘Tautai Matagofie’ (Wonderful Navigator) was created by Western Samoan artist Fatu Feu'u as one of a series of works commissioned for Aotea Centre. ‘Tautai Matagofie’, a 32 square metre mural, is located in the Carter Holt Harvey Foyer, next to the Administration Office entrance, on level 4 of Aotea Centre.
Feu'u's vision of the mural is to show people from all over the Pacific coming to New Zealand, with Auckland as the unification point for all of them. It is also about the people of Auckland making their contribution to the city, by creating an awareness of sharing and respecting each other’s cultures and resources.
Fa'auta! Ole mea lelei ma le matagofie, o uso pe a nonofo fa'atasi ma le olioli. (Behold! It is great and wonderful for brothers and sisters to live together in harmony.)
The imagery derives from myths and legends of ancient Samoa and the Pacific. Symbolic motifs are combined with colours significant to ancient Pacific seafarers and navigators. Pale blue/grey signifies north, white is east, ochre is south, and red is west. The journey is across the Pacific from east to west. In the east is the moai, an Easter Island sculpture with the pola (house blinds) drawn behind him.
Behind him is a Polynesian sacrificial altar with one female and one male motif, and fish skeletons left over from a farewell sacrifice.
The sun and star motifs signify navigational aids used by Pacific peoples, while the general migration to Aotearoa is guided by the gogo or frigate bird, symbol of spiritual ancestors. The fish motif, atu, signifies one of the staple Pacific foods.
The centre panel represents central Polynesia – Tonga, Niue and Samoa as depicted in siapo (tapa cloth) and lapita (pre-Polynesia pottery) motifs. Frangipani flowers provide an essential symbolic female balance to the male elements of spirituality that are shown.
All these migrations come together at the end of the rainbow where the koru (spiral) is pictured. It symbolises the basin of the Waitemata Harbour, and Rangitoto's familiar form is easily recognisable. To the left of the koru is a female Maori sculpture, seen here as the keeper of Aotearoa, accepting into Auckland brothers and sisters from Pacific countries.