Faito'o Fakatonga: The Visual Practice of Traditional Medicine Making and Healing Practices From Tonga to Aotearoa
Finau, Malia Lesieli
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This project is a moving image art project using the concept of Veitalatala (poetic documentary) (as defined by Talita Toluta’u (2014) that will explore faito’o (traditional medicine) and kau faito’o (native doctors), the practice of medicine making and healing practices from the Pacific to Aotearoa . This project will focus on telling stories of the Tongan matrilineal history of faito’o, the passing on of knowledge and how this is maintained today. I am a first generation New Zealand born Tongan living in Aotearoa. I will first explore the medicinal plants and their cultivation, how they are used and made into medicines in the country of origin, Tonga, then explore the new and different plants that are used by the kau faito’o in Aotearoa. This project focuses on traditional medicine making and healing practice from the Pacific to Aotearoa by exploring the hands of expert medicine makers and how processes of making are repeated, with bodily tacit knowledge. This research has developed into an interest in how practices are culturally maintained across generations in the Pacific. The time it takes to make medicine from plants and the patience of the maker are explored poetically through duration and extended footage. Narratives of making and of plant knowledge in particular are the focus of this project.