"For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children's future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it." - Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
This sculpture of a baby in a coconut shell is titled "Niu Born". The word "Niu" is a Polynesian word for coconut. A play on words for New Born. Coconuts float in water and travel thousands of miles. When they land on ground, they take root and flourish across the land. This sculpture represents how Polynesians have flourished throughout the world bringing their deeply rooted traditions, family values, and culture.
-Lilo Tauvao (Artist)
My husband and I saw this sculpture years ago, before we were married, attending an event promoting Polynesian Artists at Cal State Long Beach. It was a night filled with film, music, poetry, spoken word, and various art mediums, but this sculpture was so striking that it made a powerful impact on both Greg and I. Last year, around my son's first birthday, the artist (Lilo Tauvao) made the sculpture available for purchase and after reading his beautiful description the piece spoke to me so much that I knew we needed this piece in our home.
It makes me think of my father, leaving his small island home in Samoa, with a dream to one day be able to build a home for his parents. His dream took him first to New Zealand where he met a beautiful Maori Maiden, and sprouted roots by started his own family. New Zealand afforded him the opportunity to accomplish his dream and build his parents a home back in his village of Fasito'outa, Upolu, Samoa.
But my father continued to dream and like the coconut travelled thousands of miles to The United States, which he called "The Land of Milk and Honey" to afford his children greater opportunities. I'm so grateful for my immigrant parents for having the courage to sprout new roots in a country far from their island homes while having the strength to stay rooted in their traditions, family values, and culture.
I can see this piece becoming an heirloom to our children. A piece that sparks conversation and brings to our remembrance that no matter how far we travel from the islands,
the islands will always be a part of us.