Culture Travel

Pacific Islands – Our history

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. 

Marcus Garvey

Exploring: Greenwich and London
Time: Morning

Took the train from Addlestone to London. Then took a ferry from London (Waterloo Station) to Greenwich.

While exploring Greenwich I found the National Maritime Museum where this episode begins.

All the places we explored in Greenwich. The red squiggle is where we walked under the river to the other side!

Being a proud Australian Cookislander I was taught since I was born all about my ancestry. My mum and mama always told me “my girl always be proud of your name, your background, it will carry you where-ever you go.”

This museum is all about The history of Britain, its discoveries, war artifacts ect. Completely forgetting that Captain Cook discovered our beautiful Pacific Islands and Colonised Australia, when I stumbled across the Pacific Islands section I was completely shocked!

Here at the other side of the world, on another hemisphere were school groups learning all about our beautiful islands. My heart was so full of love for these kids learning, a little homesick and very proud of our part of the world.

The tour guide had taken the kids to the Cookislands section and my friend told the guide that I am from the island he is teaching about! The tour guide was so excited to meet me and asked me how to say a few words. So I taught him to say ‘Hello – how are you and Mangaia since he was teaching the kids about that island.’

The reason why I taught him how to say Mangaia
The Mangaian Kaika’a. Only 3 remaining survivors of this ancient Cookisland war artifact. This is one of the three.

Seeing the excitement and wonder from all these groups of people about my motherlands, and randomly being able to educate them reminded me of what my mum had always told me. It is a memory I will never forget and one that has changed my perspective on the world. Here I was being amazed and in awe of there beautiful Country, thinking to myself ‘they are so lucky to live here in the UK’ and they were doing the exact same thing to me and my side of the world.

While I am not anybody special in this great big world of ours, and the moment was just for a few minutes of time. It reminded me that at the end of the day having the mindset of a child is nothing we should be ashamed of! It is not the material things that count in life. No matter where, what or who you are, everyone is uniquely and wonderfully created. All these different places we belong too and experience sculpt us in ways more than our physical DNA.

My uncle always told me… “Catherine you are not half island and half white. You are the best of all your worlds in one” And finally at 28 going on 12 I learnt this lesson in the most beautiful of ways.

Hey Grandpappy! My ancestry line originates from this Hawaiian King. His daughter (mum correct me if I am wrong) ‘Mahina’ is who I am named after. Thanks mama x

Above left: Captain James Cook. Above Centre: War boats of Tahiti. Above Right: The first Europeans to arrive in Aotearoa.

Above: Ancient Samoan, Tongan, PNG, Fijian, New Caledonia, Maori and Cookisland war relics.

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