Albert Refiti's favourite things

By Zoe Walker

Spatial design lecturer Albert Refiti lends his experienced eye to the annual Style Pasifika Awards.

AUT lecturer Albert Refiti stands in the roof of the Fale Samoa at Unitec Institute of Technology holding a Tugase 'ava stick. Photo / Babiche Martens
AUT lecturer Albert Refiti stands in the roof of the Fale Samoa at Unitec Institute of Technology holding a Tugase 'ava stick. Photo / Babiche Martens

Albert Refiti knows Pasifika design, and is lending his expertise to the judging panel for Westfield Style Pasifika 2010. Refiti, a first-time judge with a Samoan chiefly title to his name, is a senior lecturer in spatial design at AUT University with a background in architecture, having worked on projects like Kermadec restaurant and the Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland. In the lead-up to the main event in Auckland on Friday night, he tells us about some of his favourite things.

* Westfield Style Pasifika, September 3, Vector Arena, Auckland. Tickets from ticketmaster.co.nz.

10 FAVOURITE THINGS

1. Tugase 'ava stick

I acquired this in an 'ava ceremony in the picturesque village of Falese'ela in Upolu.

Every Samoan orator must have one and this one stands behind me in my office to remind me to always speak with intelligence and respect and be cautious of other orators.

2. Fale Samoa at Unitec School of Architecture, Auckland

Probably the most important Samoan building to be built in the last 10 years because it is truly beautiful and the result of a conversation between a traditional craftsman (tufuga-fai-fale) Kaitano Smith and academics and students.

3. Reanimation Furniture by Lynda Simmons, architect

I have two pieces, one given to me, the other shared between Lynda and myself. The reanimated old furniture come with a lovely patina from their previous lives as a dentist side table and a timecard holder from the old Farmers store on Hobson St.

4. My complete collection of Interstices Journal, Issues 1 to 10

Now one of the best architectural theory journals in the world and produced right next door to my office by founder Ross Jenner and Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul. It's a radical meeting place where philosophers like Giorgio Agamben, Helene Cixous, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Lacan converse about contemporary architecture, the Kiwi bach, Pacific architecture and the paintings of Colin McCahon.

5. Samoan pe'a tattoo

Unlike many, I had no real appreciation of Samoan tattooing until last year when my father was dying. While life disappeared from his old and withered body, the shiny ink of his pe'a tattoo was brighter than ever. It's definitely an art for the living and has made me wonder if my son Nico should get one.

6. World Catastrophe watercolour by Linden Simmons

This is from Simmons' graduation show at AUT University School of Art and Design in 2008. He painted scenes of catastrophic events from the daily Herald with such beautiful fragility, making the picture seemed to disappear and melt away. I have one of these of a bombed-out church painted in monochrome colours applied to the paper like moth-eaten splotches.

7. Paradise painting by John Pule

On the corner of Williamson Ave and Surrey Cres, Grey Lynn. I have a few of John's works but this is the most important one for me because his vision of Paradise engages the space of the city directly. I feel renewed every time I walk past the "tree of life" which stands at the centre of this Arcadian scene. Most people are unaware of its presence.

8. Ceramic figurines

By Cato and Madalena, my younger children. These were made at the wonderful art classes at Youthtown run by architect Vaughn Shepherd and Susie Clark over a period of four years. Children have a wonderful eye for ideas untainted by taste and boredom. They make art as a learning process while trying to understand our confused adult world.

9. World Trade Centre Twin Towers, formerly of New York City

As architectural graduates of the late 1980s my generation was completely ambivalent to modernism and modern architecture because of the failure to deliver its social programme, until we witnessed the destruction of the WTC. Now the image of its destruction will be forever replayed in the media to truly remind us of the fallibility of architecture. I find myself now returning to look at the positive things that modernism tried to figure out which includes this building.

10. Peter Buck's (Te Rangi Hiroa) 1930 book Samoan Material Culture

Buck, a former Member of Parliament and medical officer became the director of the Bishop Museum in Hawaii and was in Samoa in the mid-1920s after which he published this classic book of ethnography. His detailed diagrams of techniques in house-building, weaving and tattooing is still unmatched. He had an attentive eye for detail helped by his medical surgeon training.

- NZ Herald

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