Transformation from Tree to Legacy
Of course, trees have a legacy all of their own, but when a tree is carved into a special significance and erected as a monument, it bypasses the cycle of life once destined of rotting back into the essence of the Earth, and instead, the tree becomes eternal.
In Honiara, beside the art gallery, now stands a carved monument, a wharewaka, created by local carvers and Pacific Voyagers under the guidance of carver WikukiKingi, and gifted to the people of Honiara by Pacific Voyagers Foundation.
Throughout the festival and beside our booth, we watched tree turn to monument. First rough sketches were penciled in on the wood, then chiseled, then fine tuned, and painted, taking shape into a form with definite Maori influence. Each pillar represents each of the 7 vaka, and is named for each, and carved into the cross beam along the front are images that represent the symbol of each vaka. Along the sides and in between each pillar are posters reflecting the environmental messages and powerful imagery:
Nurture our lands: cherish mother nature and what she provides
Defend our whales: protect the keepers of our ocean knowledge
Respect all ocean creatures
Guided by the stars, at one with the universe
Our blue canoe, watched over by our ancestors
Treasure our reefs
In its center sits one of our guides and a tool of navigation, the star compass.
Before our departure from Honiara, there was a ceremony to unveil the monument. Skipper Frank of TeMatau a Maui performed a blessing and Tua led the gifting to the people of the Solomon Islands. There was even an impromptu haka by a Tahitian group who happened to be nearby and felt compelled to contribute. Doreen Kruper, the Chairperson of the Festival of the Pacific Arts was moved and elated that Pacific Voyagers was able to leave a symbol of our aloha to the people of Honiara.
Our hope is that the whare might become a gathering place and a space, in particular, for education….a place where hearts are transformed, a place where new initiatives might be formed to help care for the ocean, and eternally, a physical manifestation and symbol of the fact that we all remain connected across and by the sea.
Pacific Voyagers Foundation