Ane Tonga

Tonga / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1989
Tongan, Pasifika


  • 2012
  • Metallic print on 4mm aluminium dibond
  • Gift of the Friends of Christchurch Art Gallery, 2017
  • 848 x 195mm
  • 2017/006

This photograph shows the nifo koula (gold tooth) worn by a female member of Ane Tonga’s family in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s from a series of work exploring the role of nifo koula in understanding Tongan concepts of gender. For Tongan communities living outside Tonga, nifo koula is a way of remaining connected in memory to the islands. Many of Ane Tonga’s New Zealand-based family members received their nifo koula in Tonga as a way of commemorating their trip. The gold used for the dental procedure is often sourced from old family jewellery, lending further layers of ancestral connection for the wearer. While it’s become a contemporary Tongan ‘tradition’, nifo koula is also part of transnational visual culture through its relationship to the metal grills, or tooth jewellery, of US hip-hop culture.Ane Tonga’s work is the first time that nifo koula has been explored in photography as an aspect of contemporary Tongan thought. She says, “As an indigenous photographer, placing Tongans in front of my lens became a tool to challenge the historical misrepresentation of Pacific peoples.”

(We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019)

Exhibition History