Category Archives: pacific islands
Tahiti has plenty of action beyond the beach, as Lucy Gillmore discovered.
ft;margin-right:6px;”>By Lucy Gillmore.
Hilton resort, Moorea
‘Bora is boring.” With a Gallic shrug, Thibault, the manager of the chic new gourmet restaurant on Moorea, Le Coco’s, dismissed the island that has been enticing honeymooners to its reef-wrapped sands since the first resort was built in 1961.
Bora Bora, a byword for a Garden of Eden tropical paradise, has style in spades, but no substance, apparently. Within its ring of coral reef-fringed resorts time seems to have a dream-like quality as visitors gaze soulfully into each other’s eyes, wander across silken sand, paddle a turquoise sea – and not much else, or at least that was the gist.
Not that I would know. I was bypassing Bora Bora’s romantic torpor for an adventure-packed, culture-laced trip to three other French Polynesian islands: Moorea, Taha’a and that other bucket-list fantasy, Tahiti. French Polynesia’s 118 islands are sprinkled like confetti across an area the size of Europe – 5.5 million square kilometres of ocean – and clustered into five archipelagos: the Society, Tuamotu, Gambier, Marquesas and Austral islands.
Tahiti, Moorea and Taha’a are part of the 14-strong Society archipelago, named by Captain Cook in the 18th century. Now, as then, they tick all the traditional paradise boxes: palm trees, white sand, turquoise water, Finding Nemo on a loop beneath the surface. After crossing half the globe rather more swiftly than Cook, I was greeted at Tahiti airport with a garland of intoxicatingly heady tiare flowers. This is the place that seduced the likes of Paul Gauguin and, more recently, the late Marlon Brando, who bought an atoll, Tetiaroa, after filming Mutiny on the Bounty there in the 1960s. Last year, it opened to guests as The Brando resort.
Tahiti itself, however, is often just the jumping-off point for misty-eyed honeymooners. But, those who bypass it are missing a trick. The rugged, volcanic interior is straight out of Jurassic Park. You can climb to the top of Fautau’a waterfall, cascading 135 metres through a series of basins, or scale Mount Aora’I, a full-day trek around eight hours – or two days if you bed down in the mountain shelter.
I started gently, with a half-day hike through the verdant Orofero Valley. My guide, Herve Maraetaata, was armed with a machete, a bandana on his head, his body covered with intricate tattoos – the story of his life etched across his skin.
Tattoos were banned in 1819, along with dancing, music and the worship of Polynesian gods – those missionaries and settlers were a liberal bunch – however, many of the traditional customs have since been revived.
With his machete, Herve cut walking sticks to help me ford rivers as we tramped and slithered through this isolated valley, the slopes a tangle of thick vegetation, waterfalls rippling through the greenery. Hacking at sugar cane stalks for me to suck, he pointed out coffee bushes, once farmed here, as well as tomatoes, oranges, pineapples and chillis, before digging up a ginger root for me to taste. If you got lost here you could easily survive on fruit – although you might be attacked by wild boar, whose tracks Herve pointed out in the earth.
Hiking in the forest
As I scrabbled through the undergrowth he wove tales about his ancestors – the first settlers who arrived here from South-east Asia in large canoes, his grandmother who could diagnose and treat sickness using nature’s pharmacy.
He pointed out the giant roots of a Tree of Life (the banyan tree, or tumu ora in Tahitian) among which mummified bodies were once buried, and the kava plant, the roots of which, when chewed and mixed with saliva, produces a drink with a hallucinogenic effect that was once used in traditional rites. This is a Tahiti, not seen by the cruise ships docking in the capital, Papeete. They come for a whistlestop tour of the island’s colonial heritage and a grass-skirted, cocktail-laced show, ticking off the home of Mutiny on the Bounty author, James Norman Hall, before sailing on.
Hall’s low slung, green wooden house just outside Papeete, is worth a detour, however. Tahiti cast its spell over Hall, who, arriving here in the 1920s to write travel articles, fell in love with, and married a Tahitian woman. They went on to have three children, one of whom was Conrad Hall, the cinematographer who won Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty and Road to Perdition and was nominated for six more. Both men are buried on the hillside behind the house looking out towards Point Venus and Matavai Bay, where Captain Cook observed the Transit of Venus in 1769 and the Bounty memorial marks the place where Captain Bligh dropped anchor in 1788.
Next stop was Moorea, a wind-whipped catamaran ride from Tahiti. Its jagged, mountainous interior delivers another adventure playground, with thundering waterfalls and cliffs to clamber. The island is less developed than Tahiti and home to just 18,000 people; a single road skirts its coast. I was staying at the Hilton Moorea, a string of thatched over-water bungalows spidering out over the lagoon, blacktip sharks circling each night below the walkways attracted by the lights of the resort. Happily, they skulk back beyond the reef during the day, leaving me to snorkel in the lagoon with a Disney-style array of tropical fish, try stand-up paddle-boarding, and helmet diving – walking along the sea bed among sting rays.
Back up on dry land, I made a beeline for Le Coco’s. The island’s first restaurant when it opened 30 years ago, it is now a local legend. In spring this year, the outpost on Moorea was launched, sleek and stone-clad and dishing up owners’ Thiery and Benedict Sauvage’s take on bistronomie – bistro style but with gastronomic flavours – and overseen by Thibault, the Frenchman with a low opinion of Bora Bora, but a high opinion of vanilla from Taha’a.
He recalled that when working at the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, he was once asked to make a pannacotta. The kitchen had Madagascan, Tahitian and Taha’an vanilla. He inhaled the scent from each before choosing – and using all of – the vanilla from Taha’a. The head chef almost fainted – it is the most expensive in the world, costing around €300 (£220) per kilo.
From Moorea, it’s a quick flight to Raiatea, 210km from Tahiti, and then a short boat trip across to Taha’a or “vanilla island” – a mere three kilometres away and the island with which it shares a lagoon. My base was Le Taha’a resort, on a tiny motu (islet). Arriving as the sun set, I sped towards an angry red sky, Bora Bora looming jagged and black on the horizon.
Le Taha’a is the only five-star resort outside Bora Bora other than The Brando. It’s very different in style, however, from Bora Bora’s honeymoon havens. It’s a wild, rather than polished, Polynesian resort.
I wanted to get a taste of the island’s prized produce and headed off to a vanilla plantation. There are just 6,000 people on Taha’a and 500 vanilla farms. The vanilla here has 14 notes – the strongest aroma is aniseed – because it is allowed to dry naturally for up to two weeks before being spread in the sun for a couple of hours and then in a sauna-style box to sweat. By contrast, vanilla from Madagascar has just nine notes.
The vanilla farm is more of a rustic smallholding, the vanilla laid out to dry on tables in a shed in a clearing surrounded by dense vegetation and other crops such as grapefruit and bananas. Handling the long black pods I could smell the heady sweetness. “It’s the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron,” said my guide as I handed over 3,500 Polynesian Francs (around £20) for a mere 100g. “Put a pod in an airtight container with a little rum or vodka in the bottom” was his parting tip.
Taha’s other claim to fame is black pearls. At the farm I visited, I was given a masterclass in cultured pearls (a small piece of grit or shell is placed in a black lip oyster to form the nucleus, then the oyster secretes nacre on the irritant, creating a lustrous pearl).
Jumping back on the boat, with a bag of vanilla pods and pearls, I motored home to my wild, thatched resort and an afternoon of beachcombing, snorkelling in the tepid turquoise water and lazing beneath a palm tree – anything but boring.
BASIL HENRIQUES (and the waikiki islanders)
Mike Hanapi Basil Henriques & The Waikiki Islanders Share… Basil Henriques & The Waikiki Islanders Overview Tracks Albums Photos Similar Artists Events Biography (current section) Shouts Listeners Biography He is highly experienced as a Musical Arranger-Record producer-Vocal Technique coach. ( Studio and live performance skills ) He has arranged the music, performed as a session musician on various instruments, produced and supervised the vocal performance, engineered and mixed All of the following :- Albums :- Bagatelle (ALL of their original demos for songs such as “Summer in Dublin” etc) Peggy’s Leg ( Album, “Grinilla” ) Philomena Begley ( 8 albums and most of her singles) Foster & Allen ( 3 albums and 3 singles) Ray Lynam ( Various albums and singles ) Big Tom ( 16 albums and various singles) Larry Cuningham ( Various albums, singles and videos) T.R. Dallas ( Various albums and singles ) Brendan Shine ( Various albums and singles ) Cathy Durkin ( Various albums and singles ) Susan McCann ( Various albums and singles ) John Hogan ( Various albums and singles ) Hank Locklin ( Various albums and singles ) Tony Stevens ( Various albums and singles ) Buddy Boland ( Album ) Sean McGuire ( 2 albums ) Donna Darlene (1 album ) and MANY others in the entertainment business in Ireland He started playing guitar at eleven years of age and took up Hawaiian guitar at twelve. His first pedal guitar was a six string gibson 4 pedal electraharp. At fourteen he was playing in his mother’s group “The Blue Hawaiians” and at sixteen formed the “Waikiki Islanders” . From 1966 to 1968 he was resident at the “Castaways” night club in Birmingham with his group , also playing at the BBC Broad Street studios twice a week recording “Slots” for their national network light music prgs. He then toured Europe (The American Forces Bases) with his own show which included dancers and a knife throwing/fire dancer from Samoa. (Danny Tigilo) He signed with EMI Records in 1966 and recorded several albums for them on their prestigious Studio Two Stereo series. In 1970 he moved to Ireland and was co-founder of a C&W Showband called the Virginians. At that time Country Music was gathering momentum in Ireland and he was the ONLY pedal steel player working full time pro. He did 99% of the recording sessions for the next twenty years, producing many albums and singles along the way. He was also in demand by visiting American artists for their TV and road gigs. He quit session work in 1991 to concentrate on a “Duo” as he had been offered many exclusive hotel residencies. He is un-trained with respect to formal tuition, but born with music in his soul. As you surely know yourself , it is an intangible thing that really defies description BUT shows in the performance. He is self taught regarding theory and has used the “Royal Academy” theory books for his studies. Jazz orientated with his chordal knowledge(Mickey Baker’s Jazz Guitar books) and influenced by the thirties through the fifties with his musical taste end styles, He was also lucky to grow up (If he ever did) during the transition from Skiffle to rock and roll and finally the 60’s, all of which formulated his present knowledge and taste. He has performed as a musician with artistes such as :- Foster and Allen, bandleader with Philomena Begley, Roly Daniels and T.R. Dallas, and a staff musician with for RTE., session musician with the top studios in Europe, backing the likes of Gilbert O’Sullivan, Slim Whitman, Hank Locklin (He also produced two albums of Hank’s, recorded during some of his many tours of Ireland), Tammy Wynette ( She always asked for him for her Irish dates and he backed her on her last tour of Ireland and her “Late Late Show” appearance), and MANY more, He also has many solo ” Easy Listening ” Albums to his credit, As an instructor for the Irish government agency “FAS” he started courses at local Institutes of Technology for “Steel Guitar” and “Dobro” as well as the RGT various guitar courses.
Basil Henriques having retired from record production and the studio work that has occupied his last thirty years in Ireland, has now re-formed the band and is currently working on new material and projects. Although Basil plays a pedal guitar, he developed a style uniquely his own, by not using the pedals to create notes (as the C/W players do) but just to enable more lush chords and closer harmonies than would be available on an ordinary Hawaiian Guitar. In Hawaii , Jules Ah See, Billy Hew Len and others were also embarking on this course. Frank Kahili’s earlier association with big bands and jazz combos, enabled him to bring his own specific vocal interpretation to the well known Hawaiian Standards, and broaden the repertoire of the band with swing standards and evergreens. Pat Henriques’ innate sense of rhythm and chordal movement brought the band a solid rhythm and dynamic feel more akin to a piano and drum duo than to that of just one guitarist. Clive Morton on acoustic bass displays a sixth sense of what Basil was doing next , and it shines through in the un-rehearsed phrasing and counterpoint runs that lend so much to the overall blend, it almost seems that they were playing from a scored orchestration. This series of albums is not only a milestone, but gives us a promise of more to come, setting up a yardstick for others to aspire to. To be able to play with taste, panache and feeling, is something the Waikiki Islanders do naturally. This compilation represents the pinnacle of the Waikiki Islanders performances during the late 60’s , and although the recordings were only mono at 3 3/4 ips. they were made by John Birch direct from the band’s P.A. They naturally contain all the imperfections and limitations related to live recording and performances, and when one considers that they were made just for John’s own pleasure, it’s quite fortunate that they stand up to the test of time as a living memory of both John’s devotion to the band, and the band’s pursuance of excellence. Picture Picture Picture Picture Picture
Born in 1985 in Tahiti, DJ Fred Tahiti has always been cuddled by his island’s traditional music. At 14, he got a crush on the parties made by his DJs friends. At this time, two CD players, a “mixette” and some good CDs were enough to have a never-ending night of happiness.
Later, with his friends, they buy some professional equipment so they can progress and do just like professionals do. With this goal in his mind, DJ Fred Tahiti begun animating some radio phonic shows and was still learning to the maximum what he could about this musical culture that was “Deejaying”
During the year 2000, he threw himself into data processing in order to publish his own Maxi versions, and then he learns how to mix his titles by doing bootleg, and then, compositions.
In 2003, he became famous in the whole of French Polynesia thanks to some remix that soon became must-haves for local radios.
In 2005, he met Weston and produce his album “Si J’avais Su”
In 2006, DJ Fred Tahiti became THE DJ who officiates for the Paradise Night (Tahiti), the biggest night-club in Tahiti for 25 years.
Welcome to the international festival of graffiti ONO’U in Tahiti!
First ever international graffiti event (2014) hosted in Tahiti, the ONO’U festival is created and supported by a young Polynesian company, Tahiti New Generation, specialized in the creation and production of international artistic and cultural events.
Tahiti New Generation
The ONO’U festival is created and supported by a young Polynesian company, Tahiti New Generation, specialized in the creation and production of international artistic and cultural events. Entrance to the festival will offer participants a unique opportunity to enjoy amazing graffiti live paintings by some of today’s major international graffiti writers and Tahitian artists. If Gauguin were alive today, he would surely have been among this group of creative people helping to pave the way for urban contemporary art in beautiful French Polynesia.
More info at source: http://tahitifestivalgraffiti.com/
The Tahiti street art museum, created in October 2016, starts 2017 by inviting artists to perform new performances in Tahiti. This space dedicated to contemporary urban art allows to discover various achievements and starts this new year under the sign of street art.
In Tahiti, Tii was the first man, and was made from red earth. The first woman was Ivi who was made from one of the bones (ivi) of Tii (Tregear 1891:151).
In the Marquesas Islands, there are various accounts. In one legend Atea and his wife created people. In another tradition Atanua and her father Atea brought forth human beings (Tregear 1891:151).
In the Cook Islands, traditions also vary. At Rarotonga, Tiki is the guardian of the entrance to Avaiki, the underworld. Offerings were made to him as gifts for the departing soul of someone who is dying. At Mangaia, Tiki is a woman, the sister of Veetini, the first person to die a natural death. The entrance to Avaiki (the underworld) is called ‘the chasm of Tiki’ (Tregear 1891:151).
According to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) legend, Hotu Matu’a, the first chief brought along a moai (other traditional sources mention two) symbolizing ancestors, which became the model for the large moai. Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg of the Easter Island Statue Project at UCLA says that the first stone statues originated on Rapa Nui, although oral traditions do not support this and hers is just an opinion. Others contend that the first statues originated in the Marquesas or the Austral Islands.
Moai , or mo‘ai, are monolithichuman figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island in eastern Polynesia between the years 1250 and 1500. Nearly half are still at Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, but hundreds were transported from there and set on stone platforms called ahuaround the island’s perimeter. Almost all moai have overly large heads three-eighths the size of the whole statue. The moai are chiefly the living faces (aringa ora) of deified ancestors (aringa ora ata tepuna). The statues still gazed inland across their clan lands when Europeans first visited the island in 1722, but all of them had fallen by the latter part of the 19th century.
The statues were carved by the Polynesian colonizers of the island, mostly between circa 1250 A.D. and 1500 A.D. In addition to representing deceased ancestors, the moai, once they were erected on ahu, may also have been regarded as the embodiment of powerful living or former chiefs and important lineage status symbols.
It is not known exactly which group in the communities were responsible for carving statues. Oral traditions suggest that the moai were either carved by a distinguished class of professional carvers who were comparable in status to high-ranking members of other Polynesian craft guilds, or, alternatively, by members of each clan. The oral histories show that the Rano Rarakuquarry was subdivided into different territories for each clan.
Oral histories recount how various people used divine power to command the statues to walk. The earliest accounts say a king named Tuu Ku Ihu moved them with the help of the god Makemake, while later stories tell of a woman who lived alone on the mountain ordering them about at her will.
Scholars currently support the theory that the main method was that the moai were “walked” upright (some assume by a rocking process), as laying it prone on a sledge (the method used by the Easter Islanders to move stone in the 1860s) would have required an estimated 1500 people to move the largest moai that had been successfully erected. In 1998, Jo Anne Van Tilburg suggested fewer than half that number could do it by placing the sledge on lubricated rollers. In 1999, she supervised an experiment to move a nine-tonne moai. They attempted to load a replica on a sledge built in the shape of an A frame that was placed on rollers. A total of 60 people pulled on several ropes in two attempts to tow the moai. The first attempt failed when the rollers jammed up. The second attempt succeeded when they embedded tracks in the ground. This was on flat ground and used eucalyptus wood rather than the native palm trees that would have lived on the island.
And in comemoration of Pacfic Island history, cultural restaurants, Tiki bars and their drinks... are another expression of the tradition.
Te Vaka is an Oceanic music group that performs original contemporary Pacific music or “South Pacific Fusion”. The group was founded in 1995 by singer and songwriter Opetaia Foa’i in New Zealand.