Being away with my Islander mother is an exercise in Tahitian.
A flurry of activity, joie de vivre, excessive energy …… and then there’s me 😂
We’re at a shoot for the new book we wrote (Koko and the Coconut – released today!!) – a kids book about the resilience of a small coconut crab named Koko.
Mum (Ma’ū) is funny and exuberant, singing out loud while the photographer snaps away.
“Aita pea pea!!!! Mana!!!!!”
She’s a vision.
A beautiful Tahitian necklace is placed around her collarbones – set with a massive oyster shell and black pearls on either side. Her glossy black hair shimmers in the sun.
She asks the man Ryan what he’s doing with his umbrella, and says, “We’re Tahitian! We love the sun!”.
He looks awkward and says it’s to “scrim the sun”.
I know she has no idea what that means, but she nods her head in satisfaction. Ryan the umbrella man is not as superfluous as she originally thought.
In the interview with the journalist, Ma’ū dominates. One moment, she is speaking with verdant passion about politics and Pasifika culture, the next talking about her childhood in Tahiti.
I helpfully add that Koko is brave like his Polynesian ancestors, who set sail for an unknown land with their canoes piled high with breadfruit and chickens and pigs. Their sails were made out of tapa, the inner bark of a mulberry tree.
Mum nods her head in agreement.
Next she’s on the floor, crawling around like a child.
“See! This is what a child sees!” she cries.
“You have to be able to see the world through their eyes!”.
The journalist is nodding her head with interest, and writing notes in her yellow foolscap notebook.
I laugh internally, and file this anecdote away underneath something to tell my brothers tonight at dinner. I’m excited. We’ve had dinner together before, but only ever at Ma’ū’s house, never like Grown Ups in the City.
Mum is going to Tahiti in a week, and this is the last time I’ll see her before she goes. I’m happy that she’s going back to her homeland. I think it’s important for her to reconnect with her family and her culture. I’m stoked.
Dinner that night is loud and boisterous, with Mum being the most boisterous out of us all. It’s a great night. Mum and I go back to our hotel. We’re sharing a bed in a small airless cube that the hotel has the audacity to call a room.
Mum holds my hand and says how proud she is that I knew about the tapa.
It gets passed down from generation to generation. Most of the stuff Mum says to me goes over my head, but some of it I think about and some of it I remember.
Writing Koko has helped me know more about my Tahitian heritage and Polynesian roots. It makes me feel more connected to Mum, more connected to our ancestors, and more connected to my mana.
To some, it will just be the small story of a cute crab who climbs a coconut palm.
But to me, it’s a story about my culture.
It is about courage.
It is about the South Pacific.
And it is about the next generation, carrying on tradition.
I hope you love it.
PS – Here’s some pics from the shoot. They’re all inside this month’s issue of Australian Women’s Weekly.
Didn’t I say she was a vision? 😍
PPS – If you’re wondering how I managed to write this book with Mum, while recording daily episodes of my podcasts, and teaching women how to run inside my course Run with Turia all while growing a team of six wonderful, creative women in my business …. it’s cos I listen to Marie Forleo.
Her course B-School changed the game for me. And she’s running a FREE 3-Day Dream Business Bootcamp next week!
I’m gonna do it.
Wanna join me?
I’m gonna host a Facebook group for us too, so we can unpack her lessons together. So, if you wanna learn some clever ways to start or grow a business or side hustle, come and join in!