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LETTERS: The ‘painting’ is on the wall?

Monday 28 February 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: The ‘painting’ is on the wall?

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.

Aroa nui,

Michael Tavioni

Editor – 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 seawall.