Michel Tuffery

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1966
Samoan, Cook Islands Māori, Tahitian, Pasifika, English

Povi Christkeke

  • 1999
  • Mixed media
  • Purchased 1999
  • 1760 x 3110 x 1100mm
  • 99/253

Michel Tuffery, a Wellington-based artist of Samoan and Tahitian Cook Islands descent, has taken cues from pop art in his use of food packaging to create the spectacular Povi Christkeke (which translates from Samoan as Christchurch Bull).

Constructed from recycled corned beef tins, this bull tells us that corned beef has become a staple food throughout the Pacific. Because of this it may be seen as a monster, an introduced beast grown powerful by replacing more environmentally friendly traditions of food production and gathering.

(Beasts, 2015)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Brought to light, November 2009- 22 February 2011

    Constructed from corned beef tins and bursting with vitality, ‘Povi Christkeke’ (Christchurch bull) offers an ironic comment on the impact of Western colonisation on Samoan culture. Introduced by Europeans, corned beef quickly became a staple food that is often used in feasting, gift-giving and communal hospitality. This has contributed to a decline in traditional fishing, cultivation and cooking skills which in turn affected the health of many Samoan people. This bull was made especially for the Gallery, but others like it have been created for high-profile public performances. With smoke pouring from their mouths, they ‘charged’ each other down city streets to the accompaniment of Samoan drumming, dancing and cheering crowds.

  • Many of Michel Tuffery’s works are inspired by his love for the Pacific Islands and his concern at the sometimes negative impact of Western influences. Povi Christkeke refers to the impact of advertising and the mass consumption of corned beef on the health of Samoans. Introduced by Europeans, this food quickly became part of the staple diet, causing a decline in fishing, cultivation and indigenous cooking skills.

    As well as commenting on an important social issue, the large quantity of tins that form the bull sculpture also show a connection to the use of mass-produced objects and repeated motifs in Pop Art.

    Born in Wellington, Tuffery is of Samoan, Tahitian and Palagi (European) descent. He graduated from Otago Polytechnic School of Art with Honours in 1988 and in 1991 attended the University of Hawaii, Manoa School of Fine Arts. Tuffery has exhibited widely in New Zealand and internationally. He has also taught printing, drawing and Pacific Island design skills. Tuffery lives and works in Wellington. (Opening Gallery hang, 2003)