Marquesas Islands Are Official Candidates to Be a World Heritage Site

French Polynesia has filed an application to make the Marquesas Islands a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Speaking in Paris, the culture minister Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu said the bid is the most complicated ever submitted as it involves both the natural and cultural heritage of the archipelago.

The application is formally being filed by France as the administrative power and also reflects the wish of President Emmanuel Macron to project the country’s diversity.

The listing was first suggested in 1993 by officials in the Marquesas, with Maamaatuaiahutapu working on the bid for the past eight years.

The World Heritage Committee has 18 months to examine the dossier.

Where are the Marquesas Islands?

In 2017, Taputapuatea marae on Raiatea became French Polynesia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.

French Polynesia also wants the ‘ori tahiti’ traditional dance to be made part of UNESCO’s world heritage but Paris is yet to endorse the project.

The Marquesas are located 1500km north-east of Tahiti and spread out over 12 islands, of which only six are inhabited.

There are about 9,000 people living on the islands.

The Marquesas are one of the five archipelagos of French Polynesia and are made up of six inhabited islands known for their lush vegetation, steep cliffs, and exceptional seabed.

Dances, sculpture and tattoos remain strong identity markers of Te Henua Enata (the land of men, in the Marquesan language), recognizable throughout the Polynesian triangle, as far as Hawaii in the north, New Zealand in the southwest. and Easter Island to the east.

Emmanuel Macron had been the first French president to go to the Marquesas in July 2021, in particular to support this candidacy for UNESCO World Heritage. “Our treasure is this nature and this culture, so I will fight alongside you so that we can classify the Marquesas as Unesco,” he declared at the time.

Marquesas Islands, Photo from

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The Legend of Raemaru

Our first legend of 2023 comes to us from the Cook Islands. Enjoy!

The Legend of Raemaru

On the western side of Rarotonga stood a very proud mountain- her name was Maru and she was higher than any of the other mountains.

In fact, Maru would hide the sunrise during the dawn with her shadow, giving the people of the village more time to sleep. The mountain was the envy of the other villages as they all wished they could have a mountain just as high and just as useful as Maru.

The fame of Maru reached far across the sea to other islands. The people on the island of Aitutaki were especially interested to hear about this high mountain called Maru in Rarotonga, because their island was flat. The chiefs Vaeruarangi and Tamatoa decided on a plan – they called their strongest warriors together and instructed them to build large canoes and make special tools to take with them to Rarotonga. The Aitutaki warriors said their prayers to their mighty God – Rongo, and sailed for the island. They planned their arrival in the early hours of the night and after one day at sea they sighted Rarotonga and the proud peak of Maru.

The Legend of Raemaru- Cook Island

“The Legend of Raemaru,” illustration by Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2023.

The warriors went ashore through the tricky inlet whilst the people of Puaikura were sound asleep. They worked fast; cutting the mountain Maru in a few hours, before doing the more difficult task of carrying the mountain to their waiting canoes.

Their grunts, puffs and lifting noises told the Puaikura people that something unusual was going on. They thought that the chopping noises which had awakened them were spiritual activities, but the grunts were human. The Puaikura warriors went inland to investigate and saw intruders carrying their beloved Maru away. They gave chase but the Aitutakians had seen them. The chase resulted in pieces of rocks dropping and falling off as the Aitutakians ran, hanging on to their prize. They made it to their canoes and pushed off before the Puaikura warriors could catch up. They paddled hard and lost sight of the island of Rarotonga before daylight.

After four days of hard work they reached Aitutaki. Tiring in their last efforts, pieces of the mountain fell off as they lay Maru in the village of Amuri. At last Aitutaki had a mountain but the lost parts had reduced its size tremendously into a hill. The Aitutakians renamed the hill, Maunga Pu, meaning top of the mountain, in remembrance of their achievement.

Meanwhile, back in Rarotonga, the people of Puaikura were preparing for a search. Life simply wasn’t the same without the towering top of Maru – the sunrise came early at dawn and disturbed their sleep. However, before their war canoes could be finished, they discovered that waking up early had its advantages – they could for example, catch bigger and better fish at daybreak. The people of Puaikura decided to abandon the cause and stay, getting used to the now shorter mountain.

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New Book About Samoan Master Builders

Journalist, Fuimaono Lumepa Hald, recently wrote a piece for the Samoa Observer about how author La’auli Dr. Francis P. Higginson is continuing his fascination with the Samoan fale, following the release of his first book The Samoan Fale in 1992, and will release a second book this year.

His second book,  which will also focus on Samoan architecture and the influence of culture, will be released in March next year. His first book is currently being used by the National University of Samoa’s Centre of Samoan Studies as a course book.

La’auli, 83, was the first Director for the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States in Apia. He is married to a Samoan, however, his interest in the fale started way before he met his wife.

“There was a lot of work and research into the current book which is about to be published. The photographer was in France and I am based in Boston. The editor is in Denmark so it took some time, but it is finally done,” he said.

“There is a lot of detail in the new book. It points to how culture informs architecture,” he said. “I had help from a lot of Samoan scholars and experts around the world.

“This is the first also of this kind of detail for the Samoan fale.”

His first book The Samoan Fale is used by heritage workers and professionals such as Dr Brian Alofaituli of the National University of Samoa – it looks at the different types of fales that Samoans have built.

The publication includes the rarely built “fale tele” and “fale afolau” and depicts the material culture of Samoa within the fale building context as well as the ceremonies that accompany the building.

Laauli said his new book extends further from the ceremonies and the types of fales that were there and takes a deeper look into the architectural designs used by the Samoan tufuga (master builders) and its links to the cultural life of a Samoan society.  “It very much informs how culture shaped architectural designs and what the current generation and future can use from it,” he said.

“The fales are ingenious. While I am palagi, I am also very invested in Samoan culture, and have dedicated a lot of time researching this subject,” he said.

“So I hope it becomes useful for academics or just anyone who wants to know do more research, from what I have done.

“Of course, there are a lot of Samoans that I could mention who have helped me through both books, by connecting me to the right sources, and I will always give them credit for that.”


Samoan fales. Photo by ICAS.

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Keeping the Ancient Art of Weaving Alive in Fiji

Journalist, Wata Shaw, of the Fiji Times recently wrote a post about how the women in the highlands of Naitasiri kept alive the ancient practice of weaving baskets using the abundant natural resources near their villages.

Unfortunately, many women have lost interest in the age-old skill, giving way to newer influences and lifestyles.

But Miliakere Lewasau is someone who will not let her ancestors’ knowledge of the art slip through her fingers. The 72-year-old from Nasoqo Village in Naitasiri, continues to weave.

This newspaper caught up with Ms Lewasau at her home as she returned from voting during pre-polling in the 2022 General Election.


Miliakere Lewasau works on a basket at her home in Nasoqo Village, Naitasiri. Picture: ATU RASEA

She said her baskets were designed from climbing plants called wa me or wa midri, a type of vine with long aerial roots The septuagenarian said she learned to weave after she got married and moved to her husband’s village. “I learned from a someone who had come to our village to teach the women. A lady from Wainibuka and I were the only ones who carried through this practice of weaving. Unfortunately, she (the Wainibuka woman) has passed away so it is only me,” she said.

Ms Lewasau said the vines had to be soaked in water first before the inside of the plant was scraped to get the final product used for weaving. “My son goes to fetch the plant before I can start preparing. The pattern of weaving is just like weaving a mat.”

She said the final product was used to make fishing baskets, building houses and binding house rafters.

Ms Lewasau said when the baskets were ready, she would sell them in Suva. “I sell my baskets at the Suva bus stand and also at the flea market. I sometimes take around five or six baskets and sell them all and come back home and make some more. I also sell them to market vendors because they use baskets to carry and pack their tomatoes and other vegetables.”

She said money earned from the sales of her baskets had helped sustain her family financially.

“I also teach my family how to weave because this can be their way of making money in the future.”

Ms Lewasau said the knowledge of weaving was fast disappearing in the village. “I often go to nearby villages and teach the women how to weave so they can have a source of income for themselves.”

Her message to village women was to make use of their natural resources and not to wait around for government assistance.

“We have the land, water, the sea and natural resources which we could use to earn a living and continue to practice our traditional art and skills.”

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Cook Islands Writer Explores New Genre to Promote Polynesian Culture

Let’s kick-off 2023 with an interesting post from the Cook Islands…

Journalist, Losirene Lacanivalu, of the Cook Islands News recently reported how former Miss Cook Islands and Miss South Pacific, Joyana Finch, is set to release her new book- Merio the Polyneisan Mermaid.

Merio is a young mermaid child who gets lost in a storm after ignoring her mother’s warning while chasing reef fish.

She takes shelter overnight in a giant Pāua shell and in the morning, while she wept, she hears faint magical music.

After making her debut with Buzz the Electron followed by Violet the Photon and Bucky the Carbon Atom, Finch says she decided to give science books a breather and jump into “a bit of fantasy” with Merio the Polynesian Mermaid.


An illustration of Finch’s new book set to be released this year. SUPPLIED/22112326 /22112327

“I’m intending to write a series of Merio books. This first one being about her journey with ‘Nanna’s Pearls of Wisdom’.”

Finch, the first Pasifika woman to attain a degree in Mechatronic Engineering, says her latest book is about a young mermaid and her Nanna. “Her Nanna reveals that the music comes from her magic pearls of wisdom hidden in her kete,” she explains. “In times of trouble, the pearls of wisdom will help guide you if you listen with an open heart.”

Finch says she is very excited about this new publication and is putting more effort into the illustrations. “I want this book to be beautiful and on par with the times, so that our children can reach for it from their library shelves.”

The book will be a bit more of a Polynesian style, says Finch, hoping it will inspire children to value their Polynesian culture more.

“Well that’s the intention,” she says. “Merio wears Tiare Māori in her hair and black pearls around her neck. I want our kids to be so proud of who they are.”

A mother of three, Finch, who grew up in Rarotonga, has published three science books for children up to the age of six.

In 2021, she released Buzz the Electron, introducing electricity. Later that year, Violet the Photon introduced electromagnetic waves and refraction, which she illustrated in Rarotonga and in 2022, Bucky the Carbon Atomintroducing atomic structure and covalent bonds.

Finch says when she started writing her first book, she was simply fulfilling a gap in the literary market. “As a parent in the tech industry, it was a need of my own.”

However, after receiving positive feedbacks following the book’s release, she realised there was a large desire from parents for this genre. “And I had proven to myself that I am indeed capable of producing these books.”

Finch says her first books have served as a learning curve for her especially in areas such as: sourcing publisher, designing for production, creating an online store, incorporating a business, growing a network of organisations that align with this project, learning new illustration software’ and starting and growing a brand on social media.

“The list goes on. And all this had to be done in between raising my three young girls and while working as a remote engineer.”

Finch says when she receives “thank you” messages from parents or sees videos of children around the world reciting poems about electricity, electromagnetic waves and covalent bonds, something within her glows.

“That’s the only way I can describe it. This journey has been my most fulfilling venture yet. And I believe it has only begun.”

Finch says the science books are very popular as a trio set, and are available at

The books also got picked up by Scholastic New Zealand and featured in their book order brochures all over New Zealand.

“That was definitely a surreal milestone.

Online business Mrs. J Finch

Finch says the Mrs. J Finch brand just happened – “It certainly wasn’t planned. When I had to sign off as an author for my first book, I didn’t want to put my full name.”

Finch somewhat wanted an alias, because she didn’t want her friends and family to buy the books because they knew her. “I fully believed the books could stand on their own because they are good. Mrs. J Finch just stuck and it soon became a space where I can share my creativity and ideas for all to enjoy.”

She says there is a Mrs. Finch Europe branch being set up in Holland, taking over the Dutch translations of her books.

“I’ve been trying to realise Kuki Airani translations but no luck yet. That’s ok though. It will happen eventually.

“I had no idea how well it was going to do. I’m just following my gut (and heart) most of the time.”

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Study Shows that Micronesians Came from Asia and Polynesia More than 3000 Years Ago

It is my pleasure to publish the last post of 2022. It has been another great year, and I can’t believe that next year will be my thirteenth year of sharing the cultural news of the Pacific Islands. Thank you for reading and taking an interest in the extraordinary cultural stories and happenings from a very unique part of the world!

Here’s to a healthy, safe and prosperous 2023!

The Big Island Now posted an article about how research involving four co-authors with University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa ties has revealed the origins of the inhabitants of Micronesia. Prior to the study, the inhabiting of this vast region was a mystery.

Ancient DNA showed there were five streams of migration into Micronesia and matrilocality, or patterns of marriage in which the groom resides with the bride’s parents, in early Pacific seafarers. The new insights, recently published in Science, were gleaned from research involving UH-Mānoa anthropology professor emeritus Michael Pietrusewsky and his former students Rona Michi Ikehara-Quebral and Michele Toomay Douglas and affiliate graduate faculty J. Stephen Athens.

“I am so proud that we have contributed to a better understanding of the bioarchaeology and archaeology of Micronesia, including the Mariana Islands and Pohnpei, the Pacific and beyond,” Pietrusewsky said in a press release.


Nan Madol, a prehistoric megalithic complex on Pohnpei Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, where some of the samples used in the ancient DNA analysis were collected during archaeological investigations led by J. Stephen Athens in 1984. (Photo credit: Michael Pietrusewsky, 1987)

The work discovered five previously undocumented migrations into Micronesia and suggests that approximately 3,200-3,500 years ago early inhabitants of Remote Oceania, including Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, had matrilocal population structures where migrants joining new communities were almost always men.

The five migrations detected included three from East Asia, one from Polynesia and one from the northern fringes of mainland New Guinea. The results come from a genome-wide analysis on 164 ancient individuals from between 300 and 2,800 years ago, as well as 112 modern individuals.

“An interesting finding was that, unlike the pre-contact and modern people of Central Micronesia, the present-day indigenous people of the Mariana Islands derive nearly all their pre-European-contact ancestry from two of the East-Asian-associated migrations, making this one of the few places in Remote Oceania without Papuan ancestry,” Pietrusewsky said in the press release.

The article was published by a team of researchers co-led by Harvard geneticists David Reich and Yue-Chen Liu, Ron Pinhasi at the University of Vienna and Rosalind Hunter-Anderson, an independent researcher working in Albuquerque, N.M. Athens, Ikehara-Quebral and Douglas are affiliated with International Archaeological Research Institute Inc., which has offices in Honolulu and Guam.

Future research will hopefully involve modern and ancient DNA from other Pacific island communities that have an interest in learning more about biological origins, family structure and social customs of their ancestors.

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Proposing the Kanak Flag as the Official Flag in New Caledonia

Radio New Zealand recently added a post about how pro-independence groups in New Caledonia have proposed the Kanak flag as an official flag for the territory.

At the moment, the Kanak flag and the French tricolour are jointly flown but the pro-independence emblem does not have official status.

The proposition for the change was made to the Congress of New Caledonia as the French Minister of Interior, Gerald Darmanin, continues his visit to the territory.

A statement from the pro-independence FLNKS said the flag proposition is to honour the Nouméa Accord of 1998, which was a promise by France to grant increased political power to New Caledonia and the Kanaks, over a 25-year transition period.

The French tricolour and the Kanak flag Photo: from Radio New Zealand, 123rf

“To honour the Noumea Accord and to to live up to its name, we want to see the FLNKS represented in the flag of our future country,” it said.

“This flag is to mark the personality of the country and unify the Caledonian society.”

The flag is green, red and blue with a yellow circle in the middle portraying the indigenous Kanak carved rooftop spear.

The flag is based on the FLNKS and the independence movement of New Caledonia.

The government of New Caledonia debated the introduction of an official regional flag in 2008, as required by the Noumea Accord.

In July 2010, the New Caledonian Congress voted in favour of flying both flags together.

The move was controversial with an anti-independence group calling it an unrepresentative of the population.

The New Caledonian delegation to the Pacific Games used the combined flags for the first time in 2011.

Thus, the debate over a permanent flag is ongoing amid hopes it can promote a “common destiny” for ethnic Kanaks and ethnic French residents in New Caledonia.

According to the electoral law French political parties are not allowed to use the tricolour in their material as not to convey the notion that they represent the state.

In the 2021 referendum campaign, the pro-independence parties could use the Kanak flag which prompted the anti-independence camp to counter with a demand to be allowed to use the French flag.

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Cultural Hub Opens in Vanuatu

The Vanuatu Daily Post has recently reported that the Minister of Trades and Industry, Matai Seremaiah, and the Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Heidi Bootle, unveiled the TAFEA Creative Industry and Cultural Market Hub at Lenakel on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu, this week.

This development is the result of the strong partnership and co-investment between the TAFEA Provincial Government, Department of Industry (DoI), Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, the Community of West Tanna and the Australian funded Vanuatu Skills Partnership (VSP) through the TAFEA Skills Centre.


The unveiling by Matai Seremaiah, and the Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Heidi Bootle. Photo from

The hub was built based on the successful models of the MALAMPA Handicraft Centre and the TORBA Handicraft Centre. It will be a one-stop-shop for all handicraft producers in TAFEA province, enabling men, women and people with disabilities across all communities to have access to a market facility which will link them to other market outlets domestically and internationally.

The construction of the hub was completed through on-the-job training as part of the delivery of Certificate II in Building Construction by the Vanuatu Institute of Technology, facilitated through collaboration between the DoI, the VSP, Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, the surrounding communities and Public Works Department.

Twenty-four trainees undertook the training, including three women. One person with disability participated in the training and completed all the requirements to be awarded with a Certificate II in Building Construction.

A local construction company was also engaged to provide coaching and mentoring to trainees as part of the on-the-job training delivery. The local company worked closely with the training provider to ensure the building met all quality standards and safety requirements.

Most of the funding for the training and construction was provided by the Vanuatu Skills Partnership though the TAFEA Skills Centre. However, the DoI provided a contribution of Vt2 million towards the building materials. The Public Works Department provided transportation of aggregates and sand to the construction site. The total cost of building is VT8 million.

The Nikoletan Council of Chiefs is an active partner and is very supportive of this initiative with the aim to support the revitalisation of culture through the production of handmade crafts in TAFEA province.

This is an outstanding example of the power of partnership and local capability to make decentralisation a reality and bring skills, entrepreneurship and improved service delivery to our communities in the outer islands.


TAFEA Creative Industry and Cultural Market Hub. Photo from

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Five Countries Join the US Airforce’s 71st Operation Christmas Drop 2022

Radio New Zealand recently reported that five countries are joining the US Airforce’s 71st Operation Christmas Drop this year.

They are set to make deliveries to 56 remote islands throughout the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

The US Airforce operation is a humanitarian assistance program which kicked off on December 4.

The deliveries include packaged food, supplies, fishing equipment, schoolbooks and clothing.

The operation brings together PACAF’s 374th Airlift Wing from Yokota Air Base in Japan, the 36th Wing from Andersen AFB in Guam, the 15th Wing from Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Airmen from Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Republic of Korea Airforce and Indian Air Force.

The effort allows US Air forces to “work with partner countries to plan and execute low-cost, low altitude air-drops, improving critical interoperability and communication for future real-world humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions,” the Airforce said in a statement.

The annual event, delivers packaged food, supplies, fishing equipment, schoolbooks and clothing.

“Operation Christmas Drop continues to be an annual collaboration delivering valuable humanitarian assistance to those in need. We are excited to team with our allies and partners throughout the region as we launch the 71st year of Operation Christmas Drop and execute OCD 2022,” said Colonel Andrew Roddan, 374th Airlift Wing commander in the press release.

“OCD 2022 represents a significant opportunity to integrate airlift teams as we work closely with international partners. This operation helps to hone critical skills necessary for successful response to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and we look forward to continuing our successful joint efforts in support of humanitarian aid delivery, said Col Roddan.

The tradition began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, 3,500 miles south-west of Hawaii.

In the spirit of Christmas the aircrew dropped a bundle of supplies attached to a parachute to the islanders below, giving the operation its name.

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Tivaivai Treasures on Display in Cook Islands

Journalist, Pamela Steele, of the Cook Islands News recently reported that a magnificent display of newly made tivaivai was held on the island of Mangia, Cook Islands. It was organized by the women’s group (Vainetini) from the Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC), Oneroa.

The display was held in the old Mission House with the rooms and verandah completely filled with tivaivai in every style and color.

The tivaivai exhibition followed a workshop organised by Teku Tereora, wife of the current minister of the Oneroa church.

It featured work that resulted directly from knowledge and skills passed on at that workshop using cloth and sewing machines purchased from a Social Impact Fund grant from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The vainetini have established a revolving fund, with materials purchased from the grant being sold to members and the money put back into the fund for future use.

Three electric sewing machines were also purchased under the grant and placed in a central place in each of the island’s three villages.

There are nine women in the Oneroa CICC vainetini group and the materials and machines were a great help in enabling them to make new tivaivai and put on the exhibition.

Mama Ne Tangimataiti, who had several tivaivai on display, explained what it was like making tivaivai in the days before modern sewing machines.

“A tivaivai taorei was made up of very, very, small patches, the colour sequence was marked on a string, and each mama would take away a string and follow the sequence of colours in sewing together the different colored patches into bands. Then they would come together in a group and sew them all into one tivaivai. And all this would be accompanied by chatting and gossip and exchange of news,” says Tangimataiti.

“In those days the cotton was easy to rip and the squares on the tivaivai taorei were so much smaller, about a square inch – sometimes as many as 40,000 pieces of cloth to a tivaivai, so it made sense to share the work around a larger group,” Mama Ne recalled.

“These days the synthetic fabrics are harder to tear, the squares are larger and most people prefer to work on their own tivaivai at home but still go to workshops to share their knowledge and experience.”


Tivaivai design by Matapo Koroa (pictured) with crochet grape motifs made by her sister Ngatamaine. PICTURE: Pam Steele 22112519/ 22112520

Teina Stringer, another member of the Oneroa vainetini, said the tivaivai means a lot to the women and their families both as an art creation by an individual and as an heirloom to pass down through the generations.

“It’s been an old art since missionary times. And the idea is to pass on the knowledge from one generation to another. It’s a living, ongoing thing,” she said.

“We’ve been lucky to have Mama orometua Teku Tereora with us, a tivaivai ta’unga who’s been enhancing our knowledge of design, cutting, and matching colour – sharing her own extensive knowledge.

“If you want a tivaivai for a single, double or queen size bed, she will tell you how much material to get but the colour is always your own choice.”

Stringer said some of the younger generation are learning the knowledge.

“Young girls and boys came to our first workshop, from all three villages on Mangaia and helped with cutting materials. Later they held their own exhibition.”

Stringer is confident that the art will continue into the next generation.

In earlier times, groups of women in tere parties would visit the outer islands or Rarotonga to share stories and display their tivaivai however these days most displays are held locally with exhibitions also held in the villages of Ivirua and Tamarua on Mangaia each year.

According to Mama Ne Samuela groups from each village meet every now and then to discuss the number of tivaivai to be made for the annual display.

“Ivirua has more people than Oneroa and Tamarua so it will be a big show with Ivirua women making about eight tivaivai each for their show,” she said.

There are four different types of tivaivai design in the Cook Islands: tivaivai manu, tivaivai taorei, tivaivai tataura and tivaivai paka’onu.

Tivaivai manu uses applique and is the simplest of all the styles in which coloured cloth is folded and cut into patterns before being stitched onto a backing cloth in a contrasting colour.

The tivaivai tataura style is the most distinctive Cook Islands’ style which uses embroidery to highlight a pattern, often large groups of floral blossoms and leaves with the embroidery used to reflect shading. This style is popular with the Mangaia women as they can embroider pieces in their own time, and later make up a larger quilt, throw or pillow covers.

The tivaivai taorei is one of the earliest styes introduced to the Cook Islands and involves thousands of small pieces of cloth shaped in diamonds, hexagonals or squares joined together to form a mosaic.

The Oneroa display was a splendid collection of all the different styles of tivaivai and after just one day on display, the treasures were carefully packed away and returned to their storage boxes to be kept for the next special occasion or given away as a gift to family and friends.

The next big target for the Mangaian vainetini is the 2024 bicentennial of the arrival of the Gospel. Ne Tangimataiti said the women have all undertaken to create 10 new tivaivai each for the celebrations – a massive task.

“It’s up to the encouragement of the group and leaders, like Mama orometua, a very talented woman, a ta’unga who is always willing to share her knowledge and skills and encourage the young people”, she said.

Tivaivai are also made and displayed outside the Cook Islands in places such as New Zealand and Australia. One of the tivaivai in the Oneroa exhibition that attracted great attention, was made by Matapo Koroa, and included a series of crocheted grapes made by her sister Ngatamaine who lives in Australia.

The Mangaian mamas at the exhibition also talked about the problems for older women when their eyesight was no longer so good.

“You need good eyesight or good prescription glasses to sew a tivaivai but prescription glasses are hard to get in the outer islands and are very expensive,” said Mama Ne Tangimataiti.

“But in the old days before we had power, and before electric sewing machines, the old people still managed to sew their tivaivai!”

Mama Ne Samuela, also a member of the Oneroa CICC vainetini, said the difficulty in getting good cotton, which could be easily ripped into squares, had changed the style of tivaivai being made these days.

“The synthetic materials are very hard to tear to make the traditional quilts and so many of us now prefer to do embroidery and then join the embroidered pieces to make the tataura design,” she said.

“Then we can sit in our homes or I can sit in my shop and embroider the pieces when I have time and later attach them to the backing to make up a larger tivaivai piece.”

Mama Ne Samuela said she had worked hard to get three new tivaivai ready for the Oneroa exhibition, adding she will try and make 10 more over the next two years for the 2024 bicentennial celebration of the Gospel’s arrival to Mangaia.


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