I was humbled to create this Taonga, commissioned by the New Zealand Government and dedicated by our new Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy on her first official tour to the Pacific in March 2017.
Teaming up with Cook Island Master Carvers Mike and Awhitia Tavioni while drawing in a core team of local carvers presented a unique opportunity to collaborate on this significant Taonga.
My research surveyed New Zealand, Cook Islands, France and the United Kingdom. I met with the families, these exchanges led to narrative for this substantial carved Pou (Gateway) and Pū Conch Shell. Both pay homage to the 500 Kuki Airani soldiers who enlisted and served with the Allied forces during WW1.
In bringing this history forward all can come together to acknowledge all Cook Island Soldiers who have served in more recent theatres of War. It was an epic mission and my aro‘a to the people of the Cook Islands ‘Lest we Forget’.