Spirit of Tivaevae: a Cook Islands documentary

A woman searches for a missing piece of her cultural identity through the Cook Islands art of tivaevae.

We’re back and picking out colors!

Kia Orana! I’m super excited to be back working on this film project AND… a tivaevae!! 😊

Yep, it’s true. I finally designed and got started on my very own twin-sized tivaevae and I’ll be sharing the process as I go.

Surprisingly, the hardest part of the process so far has been picking the fabric. I walked into the store with a color scheme (purple on purple). And then quickly found myself paralyzed by decision anxiety, drifting from one rack of fabric bolts to another.

I love neutrals and moody shades, but tivaevae are traditionally bright. Do I pick this beautiful navy and dark purple? Ooh, or this gray/black combo? Maybe I should go way outside my comfort zone and use this bright orange?? Maybe this is all a bad idea and I’m not actually ready to make a tivaevae…

In the end, I selected a blue and purple combo (not the purple on purple I planned) that satisfies both my personal taste and keeps the tradition of bright, happy colors.

Follow our production adventures

The beginning of production is almost upon us! In about 12 hours, I will be boarding a plane bound for Rarotonga.

There will be weekly posts from the road here on the blog. However, if you want to follow along “as it happens,” here’s the rundown of where you can find more frequent, short, updates.

Official Hashtag

Our official film tag is #TivaevaeFilm, if you type that into any of the social platforms we’re on, you will see everything related to our film on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Checking in on the hashtag is probably the quickest way to get caught up on the daily happenings.

Instagram

Follow @TivaevaeFilm and @MelodieTurori.

Twitter

@MelodieTurori is your best bet for most frequent tweeting from the road, but you’ll also catch us on @TivaevaeFilm.

Facebook

Of course, there is our official page.

Snapchat

Updated 7/27/15: When the trip started, I didn’t expect to be using Snapchat much. However, I’ve used it quite a bit. So, if you like your updates in more of a play-by-play style, follow melodieturori!

Stitched with Love

Enjoy this lovely video posted by Te Papa Museum!

“It’s my grandma, she presented me with a tivaevae and said, ‘You remember this. I sew it with my hands and all the stitches that I have done, there’s thousands of them, that’s how much I love you. I stitch it with that love.’ Isn’t that beautiful?”

KNX Radio Feature

Guess what?! We’re on the radio this weekend! KNX 1070 reporter Ron Kilgore did a feature on our Seed&Spark campaign and the piece will be airing throughout the weekend. Listen online here to see if you can catch it!

For those of you not near a radio or computer, listen to the feature below:

My first time on the radio was as a teenager (thanks to Brian “The Doc” Halliday and his Inside Soccer show). I’ve had the radio bug ever since. In fact, it was radio that drove me into a Broadcast Writing class at Palomar College. That class was the catalyst for switching my major to Radio & TV, which is how we all ended up here.

Radio took a painfully shy kid who preferred to be invisible and it gave her a voice. It taught that kid that she could speak and others would listen, an incredible gift. For these reasons, I will always love radio. I haven’t done any on-air work since I graduated from Biola, so it was extra special to have this opportunity on KNX.

Mahalo, Ron!

P.S. We’ve got about 11 days left to hit our goal on Seed&Spark. With your support, we’ll be there in no time! Click here to contribute.

Let’s dance! (We got the green light!)

We’re half-way through our campaign and we just got our Green Light on Seed&Spark!

I promised you a special video when we got the Green Light and I’m here to make good on that promise.

I forgot to mention in the video that part of the deal in a Tahitian solo is the dancer does not know which drum beats will be played. You have to be able to identify the beats and choreograph the appropriate steps on the fly — that’s why solos are intimidating.

Check out Hitia O Te Ra on Facebook. Not only is the group one of the best around SoCal, the Tekurio family is truly special. They were the first people to make Orange County feel like home to me. If you want to see some excellent Tahitian solos, come out to Hura Tahiti in Cypress, CA, June 19-20!

Our first featured tivaevae artists!

Meet our first group of tivaevae artists who will be interviewed for the film: Mary Ama and the Pacifica Mamas!

As a collective the group have a shared passion for developing, reviving, and sharing the traditional arts and cultures of their island homelands, including the Cook Islands art of Tivaevae.

Mary Ama and the Pacifica Mamas are widely recognised within the Pacific community as respected artists, mentors and cultural leaders.

In recognition of their contribution to traditional arts Mary Ama and the Pacifica Mamas were awarded the Creative New Zealand Heritage Arts Award 2012.

I am unbelievably excited to have the support of these wonderful ladies and I can’t wait to share their stories with you. 🙂

Meet Field Producer Apii Napa

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of the filmmakers that will be working on the Spirit of Tivaevae crew during production this summer.

Here’s a bit about Apii in her own words:

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Five fun facts about Melodie

Our crowdfunding campaign kicked off last week on Seed&Spark. Today, we posted our first update video. I hope you enjoy it!

Read the rest of the update

Like I said in the video, I would love to get to know our supporters a little more! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email and introduce yourself. What kind of movies do you like? Have you ever visited the Cook Islands? Your favorite book(s)? Whatever you want to chat about. 🙂

From coconut to Kuki

Growing up, I was vaguely aware that there was a dual heritage in my blood, but I didn’t begin to understand how that identity might impact my life until I was 21.

At that point, I made the first timid steps to exploring my Cook Islands roots. I quickly learned the term “coconut,” slang for a person who is brown on the outside but white on the inside. “Coconut” is usually derogatory…but it’s also the best way to explain how I feel in the presence of other Pacific Islanders. The ones who know their culture.

The more young Pacific Islanders I meet, the more I realize that I am not alone in harboring the secret fear that I’ll never quite measure up.
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Fear, laughter, and culture

“These Maori men are told they need to be like their ancestors, they need to hold themselves up to a high standard, but how do they do that while still existing in today’s society? That’s the question.”

The question, indeed! The answer to that central question is what my generation of Pacific Islanders must answer. We seek the balancing spot between the tradition and modern.

I identified with a lot of what the crew and cast had to say in this article about a new NZ comedy series, Find Me a Maori Bride. It’s encouraging to see a group that wants to showcase culture through humor instead of using culture as an easy punchline.

“What I hope we’ll get across is that the culture isn’t behind closed doors. There are times when I have felt it’s too difficult to get in there, but it’s actually obvious.

“It’s right there, and there are people really wanting to share it with you, and there’s absolutely no reason why you should be afraid.”

Have you ever passed on an opportunity to learn about culture because you were afraid you’d say or do something wrong and come off as insensitive? I struggled with those fears at the beginning of this project. As with many things in life, it’s all about your attitude. I’ve found that humility and respect are what our keepers of culture appreciate, they will forgive a lot if your heart is in the right place.

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