Raroboys are rewriting the narrative in the art scene in Tāmaki Makaurau. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Raroboys are rewriting the narrative in the art scene in Tāmaki Makaurau. (Image: Tina Tiller)

SocietyMarch 25, 2022

Raroboys are putting young Pasifika artists on the map

Raroboys are rewriting the narrative in the art scene in Tāmaki Makaurau. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Raroboys are rewriting the narrative in the art scene in Tāmaki Makaurau. (Image: Tina Tiller)

Arizona Leger meets some of the creatives taking part in the collective’s first major exhibition, Raroboys and Friends.

With their first funded exhibition, Raroboys and Friends, on at Māngere Arts Centre until March 26, Raroboys are on a mission to make the arts scene an accessible pathway for young creatives in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Founded in 2018 by Bryson Naik (Naik2G) and Lolani Dalosa (DNP), Raroboys is a collective of 10 Pasifika artists who work in a wide variety of mediums, including illustration, graphic design, photography and multimedia. The collective has already self-funded two zines, Raroboys Vol. 1 and Raroboys Vol. 2; a third is promised shortly.

Inside Raroboys and Friends (Photo: Geoffery Matautia)

The Spinoff caught up with a few of the artists in the exhibition to talk art, expression and what Raroboys means to them.


Growing up, Geoffery Matautia (Southsides) says he was led to believe that creative pathways weren’t a feasible career option. Now aged 26, Matautia is an established creative, leading his own team at AUT. He’s one of Raroboys’ earliest members. “We just wanted to make a space for ourselves, our artwork and dictate how the experience was when people came to see it,” Matautia says.

Matautia says Raroboys wasn’t set up with any purpose or goal – the aim was to create a collective that included and celebrated their creative friends. Once the members understood their potential, however, it became clear that they should work to increase youth participation and access to the Auckland arts scene. “None of us really had access to art galleries or spaces [growing up]. We never saw our work fitting or being displayed,” Matautia explains. 

Fast forward four years, and Raroboys are rewriting that narrative.

An idea brewing since 2020, the Raroboys and Friends exhibition is “labour of love [for] our friends, showcasing art from various artists outside of the Raroboys collective,” Matautia says.

“They are the ones who would come to our shows, support our work, buy our t-shirts. So, you know, why not include them in a show that we as a collective light put on together.”


Shateya Fuimaono (T3ya) is an 18 year old artist who is studying communication design at AUT in Manukau. 

Shateya Fuimaono
Shateya ‘Teya’ Fuimaono, a young artist and student participating in the Raroboys exhibition. (Photo: Supplied)

Fuimaono began embracing her talent when she started taking photos on her phone during a school geography trip. She says she’d been following Matautia on social media for a while and took inspiration from the creative work he was sharing. Photos on phones then have become photos on a gallery wall now, after Matautia put out a call for submissions for the exhibition on Raroboys’ Discord chat. “I took my chances and I messaged him back,” she says.

Fuimaono says it’s “unreal” to see her own work being displayed in an exhibition. She says young creatives who are unsure whether they should pursue similar pathways to “get out of their comfort zone and if you feel that your work needs to be out there, then you should totally go for it”.

Fuimaono says the impact that Raroboys are making can’t be underestimated. “If it weren’t for Raroboys and Period7, I wouldn’t have found the creativity that I have at the moment”.


Jonathan Thompson (jono.tee) is a 22 year-old Afakasi Sāmoan living in central Auckland. He’s an artist and designer specialising in illustration and drawing.

Artist & designer Jonathan Thompson’s works. (Photo: Jonathan Thompson)

He says he found his passion for art at a young age and realised that drawing was something he could do for hours without getting bored. “I like to do things with my hands and I like how you can create your own restrictions to form your own unique look,” he says.

Thompson’s connection to the Raroboys came through his own creative collective. Finding himself in the same university class as two like-minded creatives, Desmond and Junior, the three freshmen soon became “Comboys”, a name inspired by the university common room. Thompson heard about Raroboys via Comboys and says it changed how he thought about his own collective. “Originally our goal was to take over, to be the best, but Raroboys have changed that mentality for us. Now it’s to uplift everyone.”

Having spent some time working at the Design Institute of New Zealand, Thompson says he can relate to Matautia’s comments about the lack of accessibility and exposure for young artists. He’s confident that much of the work being done by young local artists is of a similar standard to that which he saw at the institute, but a lack of opportunity means they struggle to get the exposure their work deserves. Thompson emphasises how impactful he found the “and friends” in the title of the Raroboys’ exhibition. “Shout out to Geoff and Raroboys forreal. Doing God’s work really. They didn’t have to include ‘Friends’, but they did.”

He also advocates for the impact that Raroboys are making at a grassroots level. “They mentor, they offer opportunities and they’ve even inspired one of the boys to go to university.” It’s clear that although the Raroboys collective is only four years old, their inspiration on the future landscape of New Zealand art and design will be huge as they continue to help young creatives participate in the arts.


Dallas Matautia (alasvillany) a graphic design whiz, is still in high school at De La Salle College but his age puts no limit on his potential. “I had a YouTube channel with my cousins when we were younger,” Matautia shares with a proud smile. “We all had jobs, my brother was the photographer, I was the editor and my cousin did the drawings.”

(L-R) Dallas Matautia and his exhibition piece ‘bungas and beyond’. (Photo: Dallas Matautia)

I ask Matautia whether the world would look different if all kids had the same access to the digital resources he had as a kid. “I think the percentage of Pacific people who pursue the arts would be higher,” he says. 

Turns out it was art that connected Matautia to Raroboys. He and his best mate, Dante, were routine listeners of hip hop duo, Church & AP, and came across their posters. “We saw the posters for Church & AP and thought, who made that? That’s gangster.” They soon found out the designer was Raroboys co-founder Naik2G.

They began to follow Raroboys work on social media until they came across each other at Hayman Park, a memory Geoffery also recalls. From there, Dallas and his friends formed their own collective, Bodied

Matautia’s exhibition piece, ‘Bungas and Beyond’, is a replica of the famous photo of the first steps on the moon in 1969. But Matautia has added his own twist, swapping the American stars and stripes for a proud Sāmoan flag. “The piece was to show PI’s [Pacific Islanders] that they could do whatever the fuck they want,” he says. “Like, because we’re loud and proud, you can go to the moon, put the Sāmoan flag on the moon and come back.”

He recalls feeling really proud when he first saw his piece in the exhibition as it’s the first time he feels he’s been given recognition for something he’s good at. “Because, I’m not one for academics. I’m not great at English, I’m not good at maths. I’m not great at science. But, fuck, give me a mouse and keyboard and give me PhotoShop and I’ll run that shit up.” 

After noting that funding is essentially inaccessible to groups like Raroboys, Geoffery says that he chooses to create opportunities for young creatives because “I was one of these kids. I had cool ideas but I didn’t always have access to the right resources and people.” 

As a solution, Raroboys are becoming the right resource, they are becoming the people our youth can turn to. They exemplify the importance of using your platform to put people on the map and in doing so, inspire many around them to follow suit.

This is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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