Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Flowers forever.

Aunty Martha and cousin Cecilia. Our Aunty who grew up with my mother-in-law in Aitutaki. I enjoyed spending time with the whanau yesterday. Aunty Martha was never married and has spent her life looking after other people. She is creative and generous and has a gentle nature coupled with a whole lot of mana. She is a staunch Catholic and loves flowers. Oh boy, does she love flowers. In the Pacific Islands, flowers are such a significant part of our cultures. Traditionally they adorn our heads as 'ei's, our clothes in print, our homes, and you rarely see a woman without a flower behind her hair. Most of the Pacific Islands are tropical so blooms are plentiful. In Wellington, where we live, the climate is cool, so Aunty has created her own version of flowers from fabric so that we can wear them year around. If you wear it behind your right ear, you are married, if behind the left, you signify your availability to men that you are single.

Below, this is my Aunt's lounge. It has one small path in and 2/3rds of the lounge is packed with clothes waiting to be packed and sent back to relatives in the Islands, and the rest is adorned with photos, shell necklaces, and hundreds of Aunty Martha and Cecelia's floral creations.

These are blooms from in the hallway.

Hibiscus and orchards, and Tiari tipani or the frangipani. Aunty Martha has been experimenting with different colours. Of course frangipani is not brown or green, but those one's sell too. They just make sure there is something for everyone.
Cook Island people are also called Maori. These are their hats for church, and their 'ei's' which are floral headbands traditionally worn by woman at important events like weddings. Not just the bride, the whole congregation is decked out in white and flowers! And of course the shell necklaces which are exchanged and given as gifts.

Aunty Martha trying to give me so much stuff. I took home three wee blooms but I will be back for one of these ei's. There are some more below.
I loved this 'ei. It is made of white frangipani blossoms, and purple orchards.
There are flowers everywhere, in the hall, lounge, kitchen, adorning the floor, the fridge, the tables, the photos, the stereo, and the ones in the garden. Those are real.

Here are my three flowers. I love green and brown. These are made in the form of frangipani which traditionally come in white or pink. Throughout the Tahiti and the Cook Islands, the black pearl is the jewel of the Pacific.

This orchard is so beautiful. The photo doesn't do it justice.
Aunty Martha is guarding her skills for her mokopuna. Although people have asked her teach and talk, she has refused. She wishes to pass these skills down to the next generation. It is her legacy to us, the family. I left with a bunch of blooms, both real and created, as well as a tray of eggs and a real sense that I am a part of my husband's family. I am incredibly inspired to evolve my work to involve more Pacific themes after discussion with my husband and our Niuean / Cook Island family.

Thank you Aunty Martha for your love and tautoko. You are a beautiful flower in our family.


Lavinia said...

What a gorgeous riot of colour! And what fun you'll have making creations out of all this new material (blooms). Aunt Martha is very, very, talented. I see that creativity runs in the family on both sides.


Anonymous said...

Oh, the tumble of various colored flowers is a joy to see!

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