Dear Editor, I am writing to make my situation public in regards to the mural being painted on the Nikao Seawall.
About two weeks ago someone
from some government agency came to talk to me about the Seawall Mural project.
My answer to the questions were … “Yes, it is a good idea…something needed to
be done to that wall”. In answer to the questions of “Do you have any ideas and
how should it be carried out?” Last week, someone from a government office came
asking me about the mural that is being painted. My answers were the same and
are as follows.
I feel that those local
artists interested should be asked to come together and discuss what type of
art should be painted on to the wall. Perhaps the theme should be the history
of the Cook Islands beginning on the west side with our mythology of the
creation of the world. Then followed by murals of the voyages of discovery and
settlement of lands and islands across the Moana Nui a Kiva, to Te pito o te
Henua (Eastern Island) and on to along the west coast of America (there are
evidences there that the Polynesian people were there long before Columbus).
Our history in general should
be incorporated into the mural including colonisation, the First World War,
then becoming self-government, 50 years of self-government, tourism, manganese
nodules and the present time.
Our culture and reo are not so
good. Talk to any child on the Rarotonga road in the Maori language and they
will reply in English. They know more about their cell phone, Tik Tok and Hip
Hop than their own culture. The mural can be a great educational tool for our
children including adults and of course tourists. Our dancing is good but it is
only a small portion of the culture, we need to do more if we think the culture
is an important aspect of our identity.
Our economy is tourist based.
Tourists fill in a form which asks them about the highlight of their visit. The
number one and number two answers are always the ‘people and the culture’; we
must always remember that the people is a product of our culture.
Lastly, I just had someone
read this letter and she informed me that there have been requests asking for
proposals of ideas for the seawall mural. She told me that there have been some
advertisements. I then said that I will not bother with the letter. Her reply
was ‘no’ but to go ahead and publish because she has her own opinions too like
what is the mural for, who decides what we should look at, is it for decoration
only, etc. She also said that her son who is attending Tereora College asked
her as to why is a Mexican doing the mural and not local artists?
Thank you sir for your time.
– Rarotonga-based Mexican artist Gonzalo Aldana is painting the mural with
local artist Katu Teiti. According to Marae Moana founder Kevin Iro, when
completed the wall would showcase the ocean along with the unique things found
in the Cook Islands. Iro said Aldana was gleaning off renowned carver Mike
Tavioni (letter writer) and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society for historical
motifs and for information on constellations relevant to certain islands.
Aldana had been looking to do this project for a year and a half. The proposal was also supported by Cook
Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) board members and Cabinet. Cultural
Development Minister George Angene will be the focal point for the work at the