Edith Amituanai: Try not to get distracted by sparkly things

Miss Amituanai, 2005
Monsieur Philemon Toleafoa, 2007
Edith channels her younger self to access some smart and passionate advice for a creative career


When I was 22 I had just had a baby that I had not planned for. I was near the end of my undergraduate photography degree living with my family in West Auckland. I was probably too nice, doubted myself too often but I knew studying the arts felt right.

I think these words can be applied to many stages of my life as it’s hard to look back to a certain age and imagine what words of advice you might have needed. Perhaps if I knew back then some of the things I know now, my life may have been much different.

However, here’s me channelling my younger self to give you what I have picked up along the way.


Access the global through the local

You already know this but I’ll say it anyway, what you find interesting is right under your nose and it deserves inspection. Access the global through the local.

I read Evan Woodruffe’s advice to his 22-year-old self that being fabulous and making great work was not the same” and I love that. I think I’ve always prioritised the work but a younger me may have been distracted by sparkly things. You know the saying “all that glitters is not gold”


Talking about gold, you don’t have a lot of money but start saving

Someday you’ll have slightly more money so get into the habit of saving money. Convince your parents to keep the family home and buy a house of your own, the house prices are going way up soon.

Miss Amituanai, 2005


This one I’ll need for the rest of my life, back yourself girl

Don’t confuse humility with the lack of self-confidence. Believe in yourself and on that note…


Don’t ever shrink back your ideas/success/talent for small egos

Tall poppy anyone? Not everyone is on the level or wants the best for you. Identify that and move on, onwards and upwards.


Remember some kind of physical activity is good for you

Soon you’ll go and do further study and this time stay active. Get out of your head and get your sweat on.


No is okay

It’s okay to say no sometimes. Practice saying the word, don’t do things because you’re too nice to say no.


And lastly, enjoy your child while she is a child

Take more photographs, videos and include yourself in the frame too!

Before you know it, it will be 2019 and you will have a 17yo getting ready for her school ball and you’ll wonder where the time went.

Monsieur Philemon Toleafoa, 2007 

Edith Amituanai was awarded an MNZM for services to photography and the community this year. Intimacy with the world she photographs is important to her, along with an ongoing contemplation of the idea of home. Born in Auckland to Samoan parents in 1980, Edith was the inaugural recipient of the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award. She first Pasifika woman to hold a solo show at the Adam Art Gallery: Double Take still showing until mid-July. Edith is represented by Anna Miles Gallery.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

2 Jul 2019

The Big Idea Editor

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