Emily Mafile'o

"Tonga's Strength-hold Is Its Heart"

Choose a theme

Copy (Ctrl C) the code below

"Tonga's strength-hold is it's Heart"
Motto - Tupou College, Toloa Tonga.

Kia ora and Malo e lelei! My name is Emily Mafile'o and I'm an artist/photographer based in South Auckland, New Zealand/ Aotearoa. I'm of mixed European/Tongan/Maori heritage, which has allowed me to photograph the amazing people and places of Aotearoa and Tonga.

I love photography, and the ability to capture real life emotions. I'm particularly interested in capturing the journey of my Tongan people in and around my life. For the most part of my life as a photographer, I've chosen to bear the brunt of funding my own exhibitions (with the help of my family) - yes I am a broke artist! But I'm now trying to raise enough money through Boosted NZ to go towards printing the images for my next exhibition Tonga's strength-hold is it's Heart at the Māngere Arts Centre Ngā Tohu o Uenuku in March 2017.

This project Last year I was able to travel to Tonga for my father's/Saia's school anniversary which this work is based on. Tonga's strength-hold is it's Heart, is a body of work that follows the intimate journey of my family, and celebrating my father's 150th Anniversary of Tupou College, in Toloa Tonga. I hope to take you on a photographic life journey where hundreds of alumni, former staff, family and friends descended upon Tonga for the reunion last year. They came from around the world as a band of brothers held together by a common heart. As a daughter, a Tongan, and photographer, it was a privilege and honour to help capture this huge milestone for Tonga forever. My father firmly believes, everything he has in life, he owes to Tupou College Toloa, and the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

My reason There are only a handful of Tongan photographers who produce high quality photographs of Tonga and it's diaspora, and can actually make a living off it. As an artist my aim is twofold; It's really important to me that we ourselves as a people and artists take the lead and responsibility of keeping a record of Tonga and it's people, and that contemporary photography is alive in Tongan Arts.

Reaching my target will mean I can finally cover the costs of printing for my exhibition. In the bigger picture however, it also means Tongan contemporary photography becomes more accessible to the community, in particular future aspiring Tongan artists.

Exceeding my target will mean I will be able to use higher quality photographic materials, and I would able to mount my photographic prints professionally.

Malo 'aupito, kia ora, thank you so much for your time, I hope that you can join me, and I will keep you updated with progress on this exciting and nervous journey.

Emily Mafile'o



  • Mālō ‘aupito! We are getting there...

    1 DAY AGO

    Mālō e lelei,
    We are at 69% with 8 days to go… I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the love and generosity I have received so far, from famili, friends, anonymous people and total strangers!

    I have to say that this is a unique experience, it is basically putting your heart online and reaching out for love. It is a mixture of butterflies, excitement, fear, humbling and inspiring all in one go.

    Reading all the messages of encouragement has been emotional and mind-blowing.

    I would be honoured if you were to join me on this journey, every bit of your generosity counts, big or small.

    Let’s make this happen, join me on my mission to exhibit “Tonga’s strength-hold is it’s Heart” at the Māngere Arts Centre Ngā Tohu o Uenuku in March 2017.

    We are nearly there, 31% needed to reach 100%, 8 days to go…
    Join me and celebrate Contemporary Tongan Photography!

    Mālō ‘aupito.
    ‘Ofa lahi atu,

    Mālō ‘aupito! We are getting there...