|Mike and I lashing the stern|
|A Vaka Ama (outrigger canoe), made by Mike Tavioni, in the National Museum,|
We spent much of our time preparing a hull, shaping the bow and stern and lashing on the gunnels at a Vaka Ama or outrigger canoe. These canoes are used for paddling within the reefs and fishing by islanders, but very few exists in this part of the world. What Mike knows of these processes are the last bits of cultural knowledge, yet his willingness to teach is inspiring. Mike is a man of ideas, a fast flowing river of ideas, constantly carving the world by trying them. Each day with Mike was an optimistic and energetic reminder that we are "all artists".
|Mike examining my work on the gunnel, and me waiting nervously for his feedback.|
We lashed into our new Vaka Ama a plank from an old sailing canoe the Te Toronui, keeping alive the canoe into the future as those who are alive today keep their ancestors in their hearts. From a bog in his taro patch we took coconut husk, ready to be weaved into cordage or sennit.
|Lashing towards the bow|
|Mike showing me an adze he made from an old lawnmower in Hawaii, at the Festival of Canoes, providing his resourcefulness|
Mike also gave me lessons in carving, philosophy, economics, and just about any topic in which a person can learn and entertain. THis is one of the incredible things about the man, his fearlessness not only in approaching a topic, but in actually participating in it. That is what makes his an incredible teacher and inspiring artist. When I told him that my finger had been broken the week before in a Taiaha spar (a traditional Maori stick fight), he said I must carve a Taiaha for myself. So with only the use of my right hand, I carved a Taiaha from local Taua (war party wood, or ironwood). In every movement I could feel my hurt finger, and in turn feel the responsibility of what I was making.
|Mike wielding the chisel|
|Using my broken finger to hold the chisel on my Taiaha|
|The Mountains of Rarotonga|
|Black Rock, the place of departure for souls|