Raymond Sagapolutele

Tell us a bit about yourself & your work.

Talofa, my name is Raymond Sagapolutele, I am a Aotearoan born Samoan, my parents were part of the migration from the Pacific that came to Aotearoa in the 60s and 70s. I’m a photographic artist and I am currently completing my masters in visual arts at AUT, I returned to study after more than 25 years in the workforce.


What is it about this photograph that captures your fancy? Any particular aspect that really stands out to you?

This photo is one of three that I developed as a series that ties my family history to Manurewa, it speaks of the journey taken by my parents and their generation to provide an alternate future to the one that they had set out for them. The roads that made up this series were significant in that each of them took me to the places that were my home, each represented different moments in my family history with Browns Road here being the road that I travelled when we first moved to Manurewa. This was the road that took me to school, the road I travelled when I first started working and it along with the two other roads are shot East to West – the same direction my parents took to come to Aotearoa.


Does this photograph hold any significance to you personally? Does it represent anything for you?

Aside from what I discussed in the previous answer the other significance to this image and the series is the fact I shot them at night, two in the morning to be precise and this was a deliberate move to isolate these shots in a way that only the night can do. I have been looking into the context of Va, the idea of connected spaces and the relationships built by those interconnecting spaces be it physical or spiritual, land or people. Photographing the land in portrait as opposed to landscape was a way to further imbue a connection of this land that’s more than just road or tar seal.


What is it about this photograph that makes it different from others you’ve taken before?

The technique or subject matter is no different from what I have done in the past but the intent and the context for creating this image is something I wouldn’t have looked into had I not been researching and studying.


How does this piece influence the other photographs you take? Do you find hints of it showing up in other photographs you’ve taken?

This image isn’t so much an influencer but more of a step that’s seen me view photography as a methodology to unpack a lot of what it is to be me and provide a way to express this in ways that are not traditionally photographic in execution. The darkness I shoot in has become the platform by which I share my history and explore and pay homage to my ancestors. This part of my journey has opened up so much in the way I see my place in Aotearoa and the fact that a lot of what I do now is not for my gain but to rebuild the connections that existed long before the early European explorers came to the Pacific – a small part of that is respecting and standing alongside Tangata Whenua, our cousins in this land, their land. My journey and that of my parents generation is an old one that has a history that fans out through the Pacific, connecting people to people along spaces filled by the oceans on routes our navigators made sure we always found home.

If you want to see more of Raymond's work, here are his social media links: