Lexi Shaw

Takai - A portrait of Niue

Choose a theme

Copy (Ctrl C) the code below

Niue. Have you been? It's a beautiful, rugged, raised coral atoll in the South pacific.

We love Niue - Maka was born there. Alexa once lived there.

Many things make Niue a special place - the crystal clear water; the amazing caves and rock formations; but mostly, it's the people. Everyone's got a friendly smile and a wave. It's a welcoming, inclusive community and it's super chilled out.

Only about 1200 people live in Niue, and in 2002 Swedish printing house The Bold Group photographed them all (well, most of them)! The publication they produced - 'The Millennium Project' is like a little snapshot of who was in Niue at the time. There have been a few changes in Niue since 2002: There has been a category 5 cyclone; a long clean up and rebuild and lots of people have come and gone - it's time to take another 'snapshot'.

In November this year (exactly 12 years since The Bold Group were there) Alexa Shaw: Photographer. And Maka Makatoa: Illustrator/animator will go to Niue to collect images for their updated version of 'The Millennium Project' : 'Takai - A Portrait of Niue'. Alexa will photograph all the people in Niue. Maka will draw portraits of all the school-aged children - Phew! It's going to be a busy two weeks!

'Takai - A Portrait of Niue' will be presented to the people of Niue as a printed magazine and exhibition during the 2015 Arts and Culture Festival. The Niue Arts and Culture Festival is held every two years to celebrate, showcase, share and preserve the islands unique culture, heritage and arts.

We have some great support from official type people, like the Niue High Commissioner; Mark and Ahi Cross - a pair of pretty amazing artists; The Niue Arts and Culture Festival committee; And we're hoping that Creative NZ will be helping us out too.

We have a crack team of helpers in Niue to organize our antics and make sure we get all our pictures.

Artists participating at the Arts and Culture festival are self-funded. So it's up to us to get ourselves to Niue to collect our images, collate and print them, and get back for the festival next year!

We're doing a two part funding campaign with boosted. At the moment, our focus is getting to Niue to collect our images in November: Flights, accommodation, transport, food. We are excited to welcome supporters to our journey - Takai. And look forward to sharing our adventures with you all!


Alexa Shaw's photographs can be seen on Flickr.


  • Fakaaue lahi!


    Fakaaue lahi and a massive thank you to every single person that reached deep and helped us out with achieving our first goal in the production of Takai - A Portrait of Niue!

    WE MADE IT! It was a last minute, nail biting fiasco - but we made it!

    Thus far we've raised enough funds to pay for our flights, insurance (a MUST have for Niue), car hire and accommodation. BRILLIANT!!

    The journey for fund raising will continue though. To produce this project to the highest, archival quality standard, the cost is staggering! So we will perservere through varying channels and methods. There will be fundraising photo-shoots, raffles down the local, eggs for sale, Maka's doing a car wash  - all sorts. We will hear from Creative NZ in a few weeks as to whether they will support us. And we will release another crowd funding campaign through boosted in November. 

    Do keep in touch with us. Join us on our facebook page: Takai - A portrait of Niue. And be sure to follow the progress of our journey - you're all on this Takai with us!

    Once again, many thanks, from myself and Maka. Your support and faith in our project has been humbling!


    Fakaaue lahi!
  • The final, nail biting hours!


    It may seem like I've gone and done this after the cow has bolted - but in my milking experience, the cow that ran is usually first in line in the morning!

    What I mean to say, is I've finally gone and set up a facebook page for Takai - A Portrait of Niue: https://www.facebook.com/takai.a.portrait

    So please join us on that page to keep up with the updates on our fund raising progress, organisation and execution of Takai - A Portrait of Niue. The journey is really only just beginning! 

    I got a bit carried away yesterday with my 'time is running out - it's the end of the world' panic - so it feels like a bit of a replrieve to have until midnight tonight to try and get target.

    We have eleven hours left here on boosted for our first campaign. We have had an amazing response over the last 30 days, and once again I'd like to extend the HUGEST, most heart felt THANK YOU!!!! to every single person that has donated toward our project. It has been both humbling and mind blowing to see the figures climb.

    BUT we're not there yet! and time really is running out... fast!

    One last time - spread the word! Tell your mother! Tell your neighbour! Invite them all on board Takai for this journey that is guaranteed to contain all your favourites: tears, tantrums, a bit of slapstick and lashings of laughter! It's gonna be a blast! 



    The final, nail biting hours!
  • Clock watching


    Well here we are. Twelve hours left of our first boosted funding campaign.

    And what an experience it has been!

    A huge thank you and fakaaue lahi to each and every one of our donors. You have seen the potential for Takai - A Portrait of Niue and believed in us enough to pledge some of your hard earned money toward us realising our dream.

    It has been an interesting journey, this crowd funding endeavour. For thirty days, I have been wholly consumed with promoting it to raise interest, awareness and support. I am sure we will all breathe a big sigh of relief when it finishes on Tuesday evening! Being an 'all or nothing' campaign though, if we don't hit our target by then, we will have to try again… and that means another thirty days of being wholly consumed by fund raising!

    Promoting Takai - A portrait of Niue for financial support has prompted a lot of thinking on my part. In such a situation where you're asking a lot of people for monetary contributions, it could be easy to lose sight of the original concept, inspiration and heart for a project. I have found quite the opposite though. If anything, in talking to people about what we're doing, I have thought more than ever of why we're doing it and what we want to achieve.

    So why are we doing this project? For me it is one way of sustaining my connection to Niue as well something I want to do for a community that has touched my heart in many ways.
    Niue has thrown some interesting challenges at me (like a traumatic brain injury!). It has also been a place where I have found salvation and peace for a hurting heart and wounded spirit - it's the people: friends and the community as a whole, that have given me their love and prayers and keep welcoming me back with open arms. I want to do this project for them. I want to create memorable art for everyone in Niue to cherish.

    And Maka? Maka has his own personal journey to relate to this project. But ultimately we want the same outcome: To make something amazing and special for a place we love so damn much!

    So once again - a massive THANK YOU to everyone! And here's a pic of when I first met Maka and his lovely daughter Taylor in Niue at the John Pule exhibition opening. Just kicking it casually with the premier of Niue, Toke Talagi.

    Clock watching
  • Spasifik


    Well this is very exciting indeed! 

    A few months ago I asked Niue based artist Mark Cross if he would be able to write us a support letter for Takai - A Portrait of Niue. Being a great supporter of the arts and such endeavours, Mark went a step (or two) further, and, as well as writting us a tremendous support letter, contacted the editor of Spasifik Magazine on our behalf. The result has been an awesome little article about Takai  - A Portrait of Niue in the Winter issue of the mag (in stores NOW!)


    There is also a choice article about Niue written by Mark himself (he's got a way with words that man). So really, every good reason to nip out and pick up a copy of Spasifik Magazine.

  • Elsewhere


    When I was in Niue in 2013, soaking up the amazing atmosphere of the Arts and Culture festival, I met a journalist fella named Graham Reid. Graham was there with the convoy that arrived with artist John Pule, to write about John and his homecoming, and also cram in an impressive amount of adventuring to write about for his website www.elsewhere.co.nz.

    Graham was really interested in my mural project and invited me to write a piece for his site... Alas - a wad of technical dificulties stymied my attempt... and it just didn't happen.

    Well, Graham got wind of the new Niue project and invited me to write a piece about it for the site for a bit of promotion, a bit of getting it out there. And this time, I did!

    Check out the below link to have a squiz at my wee story about me and Niue and the project that is Takai:


  • {Week 2} A place to lay our heads


    Here we are at the end of our second week on Boosted, and the response and support we have been receiving continues to blow me away! Another huge Fakaaue lahi to each and every one of our supporters and a big welcome to all the people who have joined the Takai in the last week.

    As of today, we are at $1200/24% of our target - enough to pay for our accommodation in Niue - YAY! Maka and I will be staying at the big stately blue building smack in the middle of Alofi - the Niue Backpackers. For me, the backpackers is where I call home in Niue. In 2007, properteirs Brian and Ira Merrifield were still in the process of renovating the old Swan, Jessop & Sons general store building, and I lived in the first completed room - now the bunk room. I was their first 'artist in residence' and together we shared many great memories, from the very first 'real' backpackers that came through to the time I bought a puppy home (oops!)!

    It's a great place to base yourself, the backpackers: Light, airy rooms (Ira insists on giving everyone their own room, unless otherwise specified). Beautiful local art on the walls (oh, and some of my art too!). Millions of shells and trinkets to inspect. An extensively stocked library with literature of all sorts to absorb some downtime with. And super close to everything one might need: cafe's, shops, swimming. And during yacht season (May - Oct), the downstairs of the backpackers turns into Niue Yacht Club - so there is always an interesting character or two to converse with!

    Brian and Ira are wonderful hosts to anyone visiting Niue. Always on hand to help out, run you down to the store or car rental. Advice on the best places to go exploring or eating and help you book into a tour etc. And on Sundays, we all pile onto the truck for an arvo trip to the Washaway cafe for a bevvie, burger and a bit of shell collecting or a wallow in the shallows.

    Did I mention that Ira is also an amazing artist? She has been involved in some way in all the Arts and Culture festivals. For 2013 she started the 'Fringe' festival - a tribute to the written word - and the yacht club and hall next door became quite the hub for entertainment and gatherings of all the interesting artists on Niue - a truly magical time!

    Ira is the leader of our Niue based team of organisers for Takai - A Portrait of Niue. Her amazing skills in managing, organising and support are going to be of great value to us in getting all our images in our set amount of time.

    A champion of the arts - it's such a pleasure to have someone like Ira (and her number one man Brian) on our team!

    {Week 2} A place to lay our heads
  • {Rotary}


    On Wednesday July 9, I gave the second of two talks at Rotary, Wellington South to try and drum up some support from the well heeled business folk of Wellington. My first talk in June was a bit of a hit n miss due to a laptop - projector failure! But it was a great opportunity to go back and visit them yesterday to update them on the progress of Takai, push the idea of our crowd funding campaign, and show them my pictures. Without a doubt, that's what they were most excited about!

    Apparently I done good (the onset of a delightful head cold, has skewed my assesment of the day). They were a wonderful bunch to present to - some familiar faces from Newtown days amongst them. In fact, I was spared having to name drop - they all know my pa anyway!

    Something I hadn't known before I first presented to Rotary, was that Rev Langi Sipeli had been a long serving member at Rotary Wellington South. Langi, from the village of Liku, was minister at Niue St James for many, many years (I can't give exact dates, but I know the Niue community came to St James in 1977 and Langi led them into the new millennium). He and my father worked along side at St James on many occasions - in fact - when I was a fresh being in this world, Langi was the one who christened me.

    Langi was an inspirational leader amongst the Niuean community in Wellington. He instigated 'language nests' in Wellington - early education groups focused on teaching the next generation the language of Niue and preserving it through use.

    Langi was really proud of my Niue adventures of 2007. In fact, he'd given me quite the lengthy list of people to visit on his behalf! Unfortunately I never got a chance to show him my images from Niue as he passed away not long after I returned to Wellington.

    So, yes. A pleasure to present to Rotary again. And more of a pleasure to present to the peers of a beloved member of the Niue community in Wellington. 

  • {Week 1}


    WOW! What an awesome first week live on Boosted!

    A HUGE fakaaue lahi to all our supporters thus far!

    It's humbling to see our Niue project generating interest from far and wide - across oceans and demographics. Fantastic to have you all on board as a part of Takai - A Portrait of Niue!

    Maybe a little bit, for those that don't know, about what Takai is (because, in supporting us, you're all coming on Takai too!): Takai is a Niuean word meaning 'to encompass, to go around'. It is a holiday tradition in Niue of travelling around the island in a convoy. It is traditionally done at New Year, but is also done when other big events (like the Arts and Culture festival, National show day etc) are happening.
    There have been a few Takai during times I've been in Niue. I've never rode on one - for various reasons, I always observed. There is a festivity about it, a parade like atmosphere - decorated cars, dress ups, flags, alcohol, music, lollies, bbq;

    Interaction within the community, the nation.

    I know Takai used to be done on bicycles. Before cars, Niue would have been a lot bigger (it's a good four hours to cycle round Niue... if you're fit!). I like the idea of Takai being a novel way for everyone on the island to stay connected, to keep identifying eachother as a whole community.

    So we're doing our own Takai, Maka and I. A journey around the island, connecting with people, learning stories and recording pictures. And putting it together for everyone to enjoy and connect with and identify in - no matter where in the word they are from or where in the world they are.

    How exciting!


    {Week 1}