Awakening is the second masi created by Joana Monolagi as part of her work in the Veiqia Project. The project, featuring seven contemporary artists from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, is a collaborative research endeavour investigating the practice of Fijian female tattooing.

 In this work, Monolagi has depicted the tattooed back of a lady, the first instance in which she has depicted the female form on her masi. The finely stencilled geometric motifs surrounding the central illustration are created using stencils designed and cut by Monolagi.  Each design represents a different idea and can be read like a visual language, talking to Fijian life and history. Also included here are the Nai Qia (tattooing tool) and Liku (Vau fibre skirt) crafted by the artist, celebrating the important ceremonial aspects of this revered Fijian art form.


Joana Monolagi has been creating Fijian arts for 20 years. She was born in the town of Ba, Viti Levu, Fiji, and moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1978. Monolagi works with art forms from her Fijian heritage including masi (Fijian barkcloth) printing, creating Fijian costumes and teaching meke (dance). In 1990 she started to weave and learn to print masi. When Monolagi began experimenting with masi printing she drew on her memories of watching women in Fiji making and printing it. Monolagi now teaches workshops for women’s groups in the Fijian community in Aotearoa and is the Fijian coordinator for the Fiji village at Auckland’s annual Pasifika Festival.

Joana Monolagi, Awakening, Masi with tattooed back of lady, Haru Sameshima

Joana Monolagi, vau fibre skirt (liku), Wild Hibiscus (vau), Haru Sameshima

Joana Monolagi, Tattooing tool (Nai Qia) Bamboo, grapefruit thorn, Wild Hibiscus (vau), Haru Sameshima