Mr. Moonlight Book Signing Event

Although I added the book signing event on the ICAS Facebook page, I wanted to make sure that I share it on this page as well.

The Fall releases of Dockside Sailing Press books will be exclusively featured at Lido Village Books, Sunday, October 29, 3:00 to 6:00pm. Besides Mr. Moonlight, there will be two other book signings. These include the books, Trapped in Paradise, Catholic Nuns in the South Pacific 1940-1943 by Eileen McNerney and Maureen Habel, eds., and Twenty-two Ocean View: Terrorists Among Us by Craig B. Smith.

Lido Village Books is located:

3424 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, California, 92663 USA

Hope to see you there!

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About Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas:

Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas describes the adventurous life of American author Robert Dean Frisbie, who lived in the South Seas from 1920 until his death in 1948. Although he is part of a long line of South Seas writers that began with Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, Frisbie managed to do what very few of these writers could do—after going to the Pacific, he stayed there for the rest of his life. He first arrived in Tahiti, French Polynesia, where he met author James Norman Hall. The two would remain friends for the rest of their lives. Hall and Charles Nordhoff wrote Mutiny on the Bounty and later the Bounty Trilogy. After four years in Tahiti, Frisbie left for the tiny atoll of Pukapuka, Cook Islands, where he hoped the solitude would enable him to write his masterpiece. Frisbie embraced life there; he married, had children and lived a life completely different from those of his American contemporaries. He was also a contemporary of James Michener. Frisbie’s writings would put Pukapuka on the map and his adventures would become the stuff of Pacific Islands’ lore.

 

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Maretu and the Sea Urchins

Lately I have been posting a lot about the Cook Islands mostly because of my book, Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas (publishded by Dockside Sailing Press), which has a Polynesian backdrop especially in the Cook Islands. So I thought I would share a Cook Islands legend that I found in the book Legends from the Atolls. I really like the imagery of this story that was originally told by storyteller, Tepania Puroku in 1977. Enjoy!

Maretu and the Sea Urchins

In the olden days the church building on Rakahanga was located on the islet of Te Kainga. Maretu was the LMS pastor in those days. When Maretu arrived, he thought of moving the church building from the islet to the new village where the people are living today. This was possible because the church building was on stilts. It was the usual method of building a house in those days- build it and put it on stilts. The house could therefore be moved if desired. So to move the church building would not be much of a problem.

However, there was a problem because no one wanted to help lift the church building through the shallow sea between the islet and the new village. They feared that sea urchins would prick their feet as they walk through the sea. The shallow sea between Te Kainga and the new village was full of sea urchins.

Maretu called for volunteers to help lift the church building but no one was willing. Maretu insisted that they take the church building to its new site. He told them that he would lead the way while the rest followed.

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“Maretu and the Sea Urchins,” illustration courtesy of Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2017.

As they were about to go, the people still feared that their feet would get pricked. They carried the church building with reluctance. When they got to the beach, Maretu was first to walk into the sea. To the people’s surprise, the sea urchins began to move to the sides to make a path for them to walk across.

So they carried the church building without any obstruction by sea urchins and no one suffered from being pricked. They carried the church building to its newly prepared place and left it there. This is where the building stands today. And that is the story of a miracle that happened when Maretu was the pastor of Rakahanga.

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Cook Islands National Cultural Policy

I am pleased to announce that the Cook Islands Ministry of Cultural Development has published the first National Cultural Policy. According to the policy makers,

“The policy is an attempt to redeem ourselves and our identity and to recognize the value of our culture. We also need to remind ourselves that we are custodians of this culture that we will pass on to our children in the manner in which it was bestowed on us. It is also important that we restore pride in our language and use it as our medium of communication, especially in our homes and our small nation. Improving on our cultural knowledge through our schools, homes and various other institutions is of utmost importance, so we need to increase our participation in cultural activities, appreciate the importance of knowing our various art forms, its uses and meanings; the value of knowing our history and maintaining our historical places as they serve to reinforce our connection to the land and spirituality of our culture.”

The mission of the policy is strengthen the culture of the Cook Islands as foundation for achieving a high quality of life. The policy examines five key areas for development that include language, art and art forms, history and historical places, cultural industry and support and co-ordination.

The Honorable Teariki Heather, Minister of Cultural Development, said,”Our culture is our business as Cook Islands people. It is our greatest asset. We own it. We are
its custodians. It is the heirloom our forefathers left us for our survival, security and pride. We have forsaken it for many years. It is time we embrace again so we are firm in our identity before we embrace others. Most importantly, we need to ensure our children embrace it too.”

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Sunset, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Anthony Turua who is the Secretary of the Ministry of Culture promised in his opening statement that with preservation, our national archives, museum and cultural heritage sites will be improved to a standard that will better preserve our historical records, artifacts and cultural history of this nation. This is wonderful news because archives, libraries and museums will play a significant role in supporting the unique and dynamic culture of the Cook Islands.

I invite you to read this historic document that provides cultural and heritage vision and strategies for the people of the Cook Islands. I have attached a pdf version of the policy:

National Cultural Policy 10 July 2017_final english(1)

Congratulations to the people of the Cook Islands for this long-awaited and much needed policy!

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Preserving Traditional Values

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Last month I came across an article on the Cook Islands News that I’ve been meaning to share. At the recent Koutu Nui conference, a New Zealand visitor spoke strongly about the rights of indigenous people and her own efforts to preserve traditional values. Pacific Indigenous Peoples Group director Tui Shortland is from an isolated tribe in the far north of New Zealand, and has spent a large portion of her life in the community.

“Around 11 years ago I was asked to work on the environmental services in the local area,” Shortland said. “That was quite some time ago. I did a lot of work around whales, bio-security, that sort of thing. Then around eight years ago I was asked by my grandfather’s people to work for them. We still retain a lot of our traditional knowledge and that was really important when the elders asked me to set up our environmental services. They asked me to recall our sacred places and to write our environmental policies.”

Though the traditional leaders of the Ngati Hine tribe were pleased with her work, they encouraged Shortland to expand her horizons and look for other like-minded indigenous people who were wanting to protect their rights and use traditional knowledge.

“One of the ways that we currently do this is through a charter school, where elders come in and teach traditional skills like waka building, language and medicine. We also have a youth enterprise program, where young people are working to establish their own businesses. A group even won an award last year because they developed an app,” Shortland added.

Shortland also looks beyond New Zealand through her department, Te Kopu, which is tasked with assisting Pacific countries with similar issues. Of the staff they have, half are indigenous rights lawyers, and the other half are primarily skilled at working “on the ground”, around the village, for example, helping to establish tools and program. “So say for example there is a (species of) fish that is a bio-security risk that’s taking over, we assist with that type of work,” Shortland explained.

“Indicators of the well-being of rivers is something else we help with, such as when we helped a community establish a water monetary program, and they came up with 44 cultural indicators for the way in which the water spoke to them about their health,” she said.  “These are two main areas we are working on, which is built around the pillar of traditional knowledge.”

Shortland is also active on the global stage, mentioning that decisions made at the United Nations will become law and regulations that will impact indigenous people and communities. And that is how she met Tuaine Marsters, wife of Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters. “Mrs Marsters has hosted me while I’ve been here and she’s a member of Te Kopu.”

Shortland added, “We supported her to join us in Paris for the big climate change negotiations, and I supported 20 other indigenous Pacific participants too. We lobbied for indigenous people’s rights and we were successful.”

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Polynesians Celebrated Annually in the U.S.

I just recently learned from the Cook Islands News that the U.S. Congress has designated the month of May as “Asian-Pacific Islander” month in the United States and a profusion of festivals venerating Polynesian culture can be experienced wherever there is a large population of Pacific Islanders.

The San Francisco Bay area has a large population of Hawaiians, Tongans and Samoans. Being a member of the City of Foster City’s Arts and Culture Committee (similar to an Arts Commission), Arerangi Tongia’s wife, Cindy Atuirangi-ki-Tuakirikiri Cowell-Tongia, 14 years ago proposed the creation of an educationally-themed Polynesian festival.

“Even though we moved to Las Vegas five years ago, we agreed to come back to my home town once a year and continue to voluntarily produce the festival, which has become a city favorite,” says Cindy Cowell-Tongia.

This year’s educational theme was “Defining Identity – What’s in a Name”, where the audience was taught different customs relating to naming children, marriage names, death names, event names and even place names and how people get their names.

Two special Cook Islands guests traveled to California for the festival – Ngarima George (“Papa G”) and Tuaine Tou-Gooding. Papa G was particularly impressed that many of the dance teams were able to perform songs and dances from all of Polynesia; not just Hawaii and Tahiti, says Cowell-Tongia. Tou-Gooding was delighted to see dancers of all ages, from small three-year-old children up to the Mamas – ages unknown, but beautiful dancers, nonetheless.

“Papa G was also amazed that almost 12 of the dance teams that performed used live musicians, and they were excellent. They could give Cook Islands musicians a run for their money. “These musicians and singers take their jobs seriously,” he said. “You can tell they practice, practice and practice even more.”

Cowell-Tongia says Papa G and Tou-Gooding agreed that watching the dance groups in California made them proud to be Polynesian in general and Cook Islanders in particular.

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Performers at the 2012 Festival of Pacific Arts

This article comes at a good time, as I continue to promote my book Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas.  The book has a Polynesian backdrop particularly in the Cook Islands. Naturally, I highly recommend that you read the book especially if you would like to learn a little about the history of this special part of the world. The book can be found at Amazon.com or on the publisher’s Website.

Dock

 

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New Book- Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas

I would just like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention an adventurous and informative new book with a Polynesian backdrop titled Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas: The Extraordinary Life of Robert Dean Frisbie. The book is written by myself and published by Dockside Sailing Press. It is available on the publisher’s Website, as well as you can easily find it on Amazon.com.

Happy reading!

cover

Summary:

Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas describes the adventurous life of American author Robert Dean Frisbie, who lived in the South Seas from 1920 until his death in 1948. Although he is part of a long line of South Seas writers that began with Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, Frisbie managed to do what very few of these writers could do— after going to the Pacific, he stayed there for the rest of his life. He first arrived in Tahiti, French Polynesia, where he met author James Norman Hall. The two would remain friends for the rest of their lives. Hall and Charles Nordhoff wrote Mutiny on the Bounty and later the Bounty Trilogy. After four years in Tahiti, Frisbie left for the tiny atoll of Pukapuka, Cook Islands, where he hoped the solitude would enable him to write his masterpiece. Frisbie embraced life there; he married, had children and lived a life completely different from those of his American contemporaries. He was also a contemporary of James Michener. Frisbie’s writings would put Pukapuka on the map and his adventures would become the stuff of Pacific Islands’ lore.

Author: Brandon Oswald is a native of Southern California who has never lived far from the ocean. He became fascinated with stories of adventure in the South Seas at an early age. His interest in the culture and history of the Pacific Islands was heightened by a volunteer trip to Rarotonga, Cook Islands in 2002. There he had the privilege of organizing and cataloging the material of several different kinds of libraries throughout the island, including facilities at a college, a primary school and a public library. Brandon obtained his Master’s degree in Archives and Records Management at the University of Dundee, Scotland. He currently serves as Executive Director and Archivist, Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS), a non-profit dedicated to providing voluntary archival assistance to cultural heritage organizations in the Pacific Islands. Brandon currently lives in San Diego, California with his wife, Shannon, daughter, Devin, three cats, and a dog named Steve.

Details: 164 pages. Illustrated. Available on Amazon.com. Paperback, $11.95 or e-book $5.95.

Dock

http://www.docksidesailingpress.com

 

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UNESCO World Heritage Site Links Polynesia

Radio New Zealand posted an article about Paul Tapsell, a Māori, Pacific and indigenous studies professor at Otago University, who stated that the newest world heritage site in the Pacific links all of Polynesia. UNESCO accepted the bid for Taputapuatea marae at Opoa in Taputapuatea, on the south-eastern coast of the island of Raiatea in French Polynesia to become a world heritage site after nearly two decades of campaigning. A marae is a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes in Polynesian societies.

FP Map Raiatea

Where is Raiatea?

Here is a little history about the Taputapuatea marae: The sacred area of Cape Matahira-i-te-ra’i is called Te Po, where the gods reside. The original marae was dedicated to Ta’aroa, the supreme god of creation and was also. Later, the worship of ‘Oro (the god of life and death) prevailed. According to legend, ‘Oro’s descendant Hiro built the marae, giving it the name Taputaputea, ‘Sacrifices from afar’. The drum Ta’imoana was used during human sacrifices. The white rock Te Papatea-o-Ru’ea on the nearby beach was used to invest the chiefs of Ra’iatea with the red feather girdle maro ‘ura. The three-foot high image of the god was called ‘Oro-maro-‘ura, ‘Oro of the red feather girdle. Taputapuatea became the center of a voyaging network as the cult of ‘Oro spread.

The marae complex is about 1,000 years old and was a center for Polynesian seafarers from where they explored islands such as Rapa Nui, Hawai’i and New Zealand.

Tapsell said the site had always been significant and connected the people of the Pacific. “We are all part of the same Austronesian family that carries the same language, same cultural background, same belief systems and we have been in the Pacific for somewhere around 3000 years. Taputapuatea is right at the heart of our very soul of being a Pacific people.”

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The Taputapuatea marae

He said UNESCO was coming to understand that heritage is about people, culture and community as well as landscapes. Other Pacific countries with World Heritage sites include Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

 

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