Starting with an opening this Friday (January 19), at 5pm, the exhibition will run for about a month.
Graduating Mt Albert Unitec student, 21-year-old Fe’ena Syme Buchanan, chose the topic as her last semester project for her Bachelor of Creative Enterprise degree.
“No-one had done anything like it before.”
She says her trip to Mangaia was eye-opening.
“It’s like life in Rarotonga, but 50 years ago. It’s beautiful and it’s quiet.
“In the two weeks we were there the population dropped from 499 to 491, that’s eight people, (the equivalent of) two whole families”. She says there are probably many reasons why people are leaving, including low wages and better job opportunities elsewhere.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of locals and there are opportunities there, but how do you start a business when there’s less and less people to buy off you? Where do you start?
Agriculture would help, but people won’t come back unless there is something to come back to.”
Fe’ena comes from a line of creative family members. Her grandfather was author Ronald Syme, her father is nationally renowned artist Tim Buchanan and her mum Florence is a wellrespected writer. She says her two older sisters and younger brother are also adept in their own individual creative pursuits.
Fe’ena is excited at the prospect of her first photographic exhibition, and offers a huge meitaki maata to sponsors Trevor Clark, Rod Dickson, Ewan Smith and Aberaham Pokino who helped her complete her project.
Fe’ena will graduate early this year and plans to enter a one-year post-graduate diploma in digital marketing with the NZ Institute of Education.
And while Rarotonga is, and will always be home, her long term plans include seeing the world.
“I have a thirst for knowledge and want to keep learning as much as I can.”