John Pule emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand, from Niue at the age of two, and did not return to the island until his late 20s. However, Pule’s Niuean heritage came to dramatically inform his broad-ranging body of work, which consists of painting, drawing, printmaking, poetry and three novels: The Shark that Ate the Sun (Ko e Mago Ne Kai e La) (1992), Burn My Head in Heaven (Tugi e Ulu Haaku he Langi) (2000) and Restless People (Tagata Kapakiloi) (2004).
Pule’s artwork combines influences from traditional Pacific artforms, such as Niuean hiapo bark-cloth painting, with more traditional European-derived forms such as oil painting and intaglio printmaking. His work engages with the legacy of colonialism in the Pacific, particularly the introduction of Christianity and its displacement of traditional religions and social structures.
Pule is widely regarded as one of the Pacfiic’s most innovative and influential visual artists and authors, and his work is held in numerous public and private collections. In 2010, a major touring retrospective of Pule’s work, Hauaga (Arrivals) was staged by City Gallery Wellington.