The buiniga is a traditional Fijian unisex hairstyle. Similar to the afro, but more sculpted, it’s become a source of national pride. Increasingly young women in Fiji are bucking Western trends and refusing to straighten their hair.
Fijian born and raised, artist, poet and fashion designer Natasha Ratuva’s exhibition at Aratoi museum in Masterton is called Buiniga, named after the iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian traditional practice). In the exhibition Ratuva presents masi (barkcloth) artworks that reinterpret traditional patterns, celebrating buiniga as a symbol of her culture and womanhood.
After years living in Tāmaki Makaurau, Ratuva is now living on a farm in the Wairarapa with her husband and their whanau and, as Ngāti Rakaiwhakairi whenua, they are embracing both indigenous and regenerative farming practices. She is also one half of half of Vuku Creative Studio with her brother in the Wairarapa
Living there, has expanded her creative processes through greater intimacy with the natural world. Her work is grounded in iTaukei, and within that culture, the head and hair symbolise mana and connection to the spiritual realm.
Natasha Ratuva: Buiniga is on until 18 February.