Group Exhibition – Everything is Connected, 2019, Geoff Wilson Gallery, Whangarei, New Zealand



Thoughts and musings

I was deep in the process of tracing my ancestry and identifying my tupuna when I first decided to pursue a Master’s degree. My master’s thesis and my family tree research led me to formulate what I’ve come to call the Teretere Moana Methodology.

I learnt from my tupuna how to decode their ancestry by studying their stories, music, language, dialects, and the aspects of their surroundings.

As I dug deeper into my family history, I realised that my ancestors’ names were more than just a series of letters; they conveyed essential information about their motivations for making the trek across the Pacific.

My research into my family tree led me to discover a common thread as I uncovered information on successive generations. Meeting a tupuna showed a new branch in my family tree, which drove me to seek in “cluster” mode to find another recognisable tupuna, who in turn revealed a new branch, which led to yet another family, which led back to my own family tree. Together with my cousin who is also journeying with me, we conducted a genealogy study that yielded a list of names spanning the range of 1200 to 2000 years, from East Polynesia to West Polynesia.

Everything is connected, I realised, and that pretty well sums up my feelings about this. This piece is dubbed “Oceania Connection” because the three paper triangles represent the father, the mother, and the child.

Each triangle has its own unique size, which doesn’t necessarily correspond to anything but serves as a symbol for the importance of family in the Pacific Islander culture. Some of us may have humble beginnings while others may have more illustrious ones, but we all share a common ancestry, and perhaps even a common tupuna or two! If that’s the case, our family would explode in size.