Cultures don’t have to vanish

“The CIA estimates the population of the Cook Islands is declining by 3 percent per year, a rate second only to war-torn Syria.”

This story from the Star Tribune is about Niue, however it highlights one of the reasons why I believe so strongly in sharing the stories of tivaevae.

For me, this film is more than just a nice idea, it’s an imperative. The knowledge that our cultural leaders possess must be preserved for future generations. When our leaders leave us, the knowledge and wisdom they carry will leave with them.

Imagine how much richness and color we would lose from our lives if we lost all of that knowledge!

“It’s really hard. The more you stay away from home, the more you embrace other cultures, especially the Western culture,” he says. “There’s nothing much you can do about it.”

Oh, but I beg to differ. There is something we can do about it. But it’s up to us, the young people, to take the initiative and be proactive in preserving our heritage. We can choose to be sponges of learning! Soak up everything we can get –and just as important– not be stingy in sharing what we learn! We have to find ways of incorporating our heritage into lives of passion and joy, then others in our generation will take notice and wonder if this is what they’re missing.

We can examine our skill sets and the technology we love for new ways to inspire the ones coming after us to take up the mantle (or the sewing needle!). Ano Tisam and the team at the Cook Islands Maori Database are doing exactly that–utilizing technology to save a precious part of our culture.

What do you know how to do?

As for me, what I know how to do is make movies. So, here I am. I hope you’ll join me.

Melodie is the director and producer of Spirit of Tivaevae. Born in New Zealand to a Cook Islander father and American mother, Melodie was raised in the United States. Her family background gives her a unique perspective on being a Pacific Islander raised outside the culture.