Category Archives: Personal Blog

Reigniting Old Passions

My very first experience strumming a guitar was when I was 7 years old. My mothers younger brother (15 years apart in age) had migrated to New Zealand from Manihiki, Cook Islands on scholarship for secondary schooling and he brought with him his guitar. It was a classical guitar and it looked so monstrous, in my view it did as a child. The guitar was in the guitar case, with the lid open and calling me to strum it’s strings. And so I did!. I couldn’t help myself but I remember my mother saying “No Hina, don’t touch Uncles guitar”. My Uncle walked into the lounge just as my mother was saying it and he instantly took his guitar out of the case and allowed me to strum it. He then placed the guitar across my lap and encouraged me to get accustomed to strumming the guitar. I was wrapped with excitement and immediately accepted the invitation. I am thankful to my Uncle for introducing me to such a beautiful instrument.

Later on he taught me my very first chords D, G and A. I advanced very quickly and was playing very well before the age of 10 years old. I was 11 years old when I began music lessons during my Intermediate Schooling years. Our music teacher Mr Darrah was a classical guitarist and when he heard me play, he began teaching me a little more. I was later asked by the Māori Culture group teacher to play the guitar for their song items and so I agreed. Many of the students and teachers were very surprised to see and hear my guitar playing and how confident I was in this instrument. In reality I felt that it was a part of me, to the point that when I slept I could hear myself playing and making sure to hit every note correctly.

I was 10 years old when a friend of the family Neville Smith bought an acoustic Spanish guitar for me and surprised me when he returned from his trip to Spain. He owned a chain of music stores in New Zealand and so he travelled a lot looking for the best musical instruments etc. for his stores. I was so grateful for his beautiful gift, for it was a hand made Spanish guitar. So beautifully hand crafted and polished with love and care. My first classical guitar lesson with Mr Darrah was to learn a piece called “Spanish Romance” we chose that piece, representing my guitar and it’s birth place. I was so pedantic in playing it well and made sure I put every time I had into practicing it. I had my first recital by the end of the second term and performed it on stage in front of the entire school, it was an amazing feeling to be sharing it, alongside other students playing their recitals. I surprising wasn’t nervous at all and why? because I loved my guitar and I chose to give it the respect it deserved and play it’s harmony in my left hand with the melody in my right hand, with pride. Strange thing is, my fingers on my left hand are longer by half a centimetre than the fingers on my right hand, that’s how you can pick out a classical guitarist hehehe…

I continued playing the guitar during my College years, with music classes at school with our teacher Mr Crooks. I was 13 years old going on 14 years old and expanded my music talents in taking up piano lessons as well, Mr Crooks was a pianist and again it didn’t take me long to learn how to play the piano. I also joined the school choir which helped and bettered me tremendously with reading music. I continued playing both the guitar and piano and went onto assisting the school band in school musical productions, as well as playing major roles in the theatrical part of Drama in acting. But in my final year of College my younger sister played the main role as Beauty in “Beauty and the Beast” and so Mr Crooks asked me to play the piano in the school band, in which I did. It was so lovely to be able to play the theme song and watch my baby sister dance the waltz on stage, under the spot light. It was her moment and I wanted to make it special by playing every note perfectly, just for her. Something I will always treasure and remember.

In my final year I decided to pursue my Science subjects and dropped out on sitting Bursary for Music, Mr Crooks was not happy and I’m sure Mr Darrah would have been as well, if he knew. I went onto having a career in Nursing as well as joining a Band called “White Sands” and sang as a back up vocalist for 11 years. I ceased to play the guitar and the piano and you may ask why? I guess I was disappointed in myself for not continuing my passion and just couldn’t play either instrument any longer. I felt I had abandoned and betrayed them, like they were children that I had left on the way side. But for some unknown reason I have had an urge to start playing the guitar again, I can’t explain it, maybe it’s a reigniting of old passions.

God Bless xox



Culture is such a topic that is common worldwide. Each ethnic group is built on culture, of their own beliefs, ideas, customs and social behaviours. What is your culture about? Do you know of your culture? How significant is it to you? Over the past 20 years I have met people who’s great grandparents have migrated to another country and they have absolutely no idea of their culture of origin. I know that may seem absurd, but I find it so sad that, that is the reality for some. A friend of ours is 5th generation Scottish but was born and raised in Australia. But seriously he strongly has the traits of a Scotsman, red hair, freckles etc. I encouraged him to visit Scotland and hopefully to find a sense of belonging.

Who has watched the U.S TV series “Who do you think you are?”. For those who haven’t, it is a genealogy documentary tv series, show casing celebrities tracing their family tree. The series that astounded me was Brooke Shields, even she herself was shocked to discover her lineage. All her life she thought she was American, but then to find that she descended from French Nobles, gobsmacked this beautiful woman. That is culture for you, it is believed, practiced and evolved through the ancestors, which in turn becomes embedded in the descendants. Even when you don’t know it, it is part of you.

I myself come from a family that is very strong in our cultural upbringing. I was born and raised in New Zealand, first generation Kiwi. My grandfather migrated to New Zealand in the late 1960’s and my father later in the early 1970’s. Many Cook Islanders migrated around that era, as the New Zealand government was promoting secured jobs for labourers. My father however migrated for education on a scholarship, he met my mother and had me instead. Gave up the tertiary education and worked full time to support us. He later attended University and received his Bachelors degree, better late than never I say. But with all the transition of migrating from Manihiki, Cook Islands to New Zealand I was blessed to have my grandfather, my father and other family members bring with them, our culture. I was taught and told stories of my parents homeland, my homeland, my ancestral beliefs, customs and way of life, like it was from a land of mystery.

I was told the story of where my name originated from, like it was a fairytale. I grew up listening to all of these ancestral histories that have been passed down for generations and what amazes me is how great my ancestors were during their time. They were Warriors of the great Pacific Ocean, great sea farers of their time, adventuring into the unknown and beyond. Discoverers of other lands, venturing distances miles away from the comforts and loved ones back home. To mention, a well known ancestor amongst the Cook Island Māori and New Zealand Māori is my ancestor Kupe, who discovered New Zealand hundreds of years before Captain James Cook. Kupe was from the Island, Te Whoturangaranga known today as Manihiki, from the village Te Matawhorua known today as Tukao. After discovering New Zealand in which he named Aotearoa meaning “Land of the long white cloud” he returned to Te Whoturangaranga (Manihiki) and renamed our family Marae (Land/Homestead) from Toi Tu Rahui Tepapa Te Rautea, to it’s new name Te Marae Te Hono O Te Aotea, connecting his new founded land to his birth home. To mention, his double hulled canoe (vaka) was also named after our village Te Matawhorua (Tukao), specifically connecting him to our village. If you visit the Auckland Museum there is a replica of a waka (canoe) with a plaque of history about Kupe and his discovery of Aotearoa. I am glad to have visited my home of origin Manihiki, first in 1989 and then again in 2006 and hope to visit again soon.

Culture is also your language, your mother tongue. My parents always spoke Manihikian to me but I always responded with the English language. I grew up understanding the Manihikian language but never spoke it, not until I started  relations with my now husband, who is half Manihikian/Atiuan but was born and raised in Manihiki and so then he speaks the language fluently. However I must admit my writing Manihikian is alot fluent than my spoken, but I’m getting there, Better late than never. It’s NEVER too late to learn your Reo (Language).

My families are also very involved with our customary dance culture, which plays a significant part in who we are. It expresses history in our legends and song, which has been handed down from generation to generation. This is not only for my Island Manihiki but also for all the other 14 Islands that make up the Cook Islands. Every year each Island gathers together to perform in several categories, sharing and competing to see which Island has the best story telling skills, in dance and song. It’s such an eventful time, exciting and appreciating of the love for our Cook Islands culture.

As much as I love and am proud to be of Cook Island heritage, I also descend from a few of the other Islands in the Cook Islands and other ethnic backgrounds. I also descend from Pukapuka (3rd generation), Rakahanga (3rd generation), Aitutaki & Rarotonga (4th generation), Samoa (6th generation), Tonga (10th generation), English (5th generation), French (9th generation) and Jewish (10th generation). I was never really interested in the genealogy aspect of my culture but because of the influence of my father, I was swept up into it like a whirlwind and it’s been great connecting families with each other, through the knowledge shared by my father.

Love and hold on tight to your culture, your heritage and be proud of who and where you are from. And be kind and appreciating of other ethnic cultures, for you never know, you just may be part of them too.

God Bless xox

Satisfaction through Inspiration

How are you with finding inspiration? I find it in other artists work, music and pretty much anything positive around me. Everyone has their own devices in discovering what works for them. I am inspired by photographers who travel and photograph the beauties of the world. From the amazing glaciers to the less fortunate faces of the poor. I haven’t been able to travel overseas due to illness and so for the past 2 years 6 months I have been seeing the world via the eyes of other photographers. And it’s been just as satisfying.

I have made great connections with other photographers via social media and what a blessing it has been building relationships without even meeting them in person, but through their images, I feel as if I know a whole lot about each of them. I have yet to meet up with a few photographers in my own hometown Gold Coast and Brisbane. I’m always being invited to group catch ups for morning or evening photo shoots, but something always pops up. I will make it to a meet and greet soon.

However, I have been busy with other photography work, retouching and editing for overseas companies, that at least keeps my editing skills in tact and up to date. I have also committed myself to keeping my website updated, which I did neglect for about 6 months. I have noticed most photography websites concentrate on solely sharing their own work but I have steered away from that and have begun sharing other photographers works. Adding either their personal websites or their URL’s via their accounts on Bēhance or Fine Art America. I know! You’re probably asking “Why are you promoting other photographers?”.

It’s simple really, I want to share the beauty and talent of others to anyone and everyone who visits my website. Being kind, giving and sharing is my personality, ask anyone who knows me. It makes me happy to not only help myself but others. Caring is Sharing! shouldn’t only be a saying slash quote, but an action! We need to not only say and speak but to follow through with what we do about it. Actions speak louder than words. So lately I have been jotting down other lists of pages I want to add to my website, if you have any suggestions, I’d be happy to take note of your suggestions in the comments section.

I have also built and designed my own website from scratch, so I’m really chuffed with myself. I had used altogether 3 hosting sites but have now found a great one that I have been with for a year now and have had no problems with and it’s affordable. It’s been a while since I last posted here on my Blog but I finally remembered my username and password hahaha!!… So many accounts, usernames and passwords can get very confusing. So before I sign off I would love for you to visit my website. Please share and like it on your other social media sites and keep in mind that you won’t be only helping me but other photographers on my page as well.

God bless xox

Snapper Rocks

Fear Of Heights

At the end of the day, some you win, some you don’t. So I’m glad that I’m here with some friends that I know. Always there with a smile, saying you’re not alone. Say it la la la la caesura.

My daughter has been walking around the house singing this jovial song. She attended her school camp last week and came back a totally different person. She was so excited to let me know that she had over come her fear of heights. The camp supervisors and instructors had a number of activities set for the 3 days that all the students were there.

The children all participated in “Team” activities. My daughter was the first to raise her hand and join the opposition team to balance out the numbers and she said that the instructor praised her for doing so. He said that she was the first one to take the first step in team participation. I was so proud of her, because it’s something I would’ve done and it felt good that in doing that, she reflected what we have taught her. Be a part of something good.

She then went on to telling me that she attempted to take part in all the activities, even if was only once. She is terrified of heights and I was so worried for her after reading her school letter. All the students were asked to take a camera along to the camp, I was happy with that, being a photographer, I love making record of events such as that. So she scrolled through her camera and played a video that her friend had recorded for her.

And there she was, on the high rope with her safety gear on and walking along so confidently. She took her time but she had completed the task and as a parent it was amazing to watch my empowering child reach the end of her fear. It was over! And I found myself hugging her so tightly, kissing her head and face and congratulating her on her achievement. She stood there laughing and saying “Mum, I can’t breathe!”.

She did say that if it weren’t for the encouragement of her friends and her team, she probably wouldn’t have taken that leap of faith. She’s known her friends since we moved here to the Gold Coast, since she was 6 years old. This is their final year together at school and her best and closest friend will be attending a different school next year. However, they have promised to keep in contact. So this is the reason why I haven’t minded her singing this song repeatedly.

At the end of the day, some you win, some you don’t. So I’m glad that I’m here with some friends that I know. Always there with a smile, saying you’re not alone. Say it la la la la caesura.

This time around, She WON!!

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The Impact Of Music

Music has always played a huge part in my life. As a child I strummed my first guitar at 4 years old. My mothers younger brother had migrated to New Zealand from the Cook Islands and he had brought his guitar. He would let me strum at the strings and I would sing a song making up the lyrics as I would go along. It wasn’t till I was 5 years of age when he taught me my first chords, D,G and A.

All songs consist of 3 main chords and the fill ins are minor and major chords. I was playing and singing like a pro at only 8 years of age. I loved writing songs alongside with composing music by that age and it wouldn’t necessarily be about life experiences, but more so about my imaginations. Funny as it sounds but when I now listen to groups such as Cold Play’s song “A sky full of stars”, yeah that was the kind of lyrics I would write and music I would compose.

I also went on to playing the piano, I played a lot better by ear than reading music off a sheet , however I did learn how to read music in Intermediate and College. I would also participate in school productions, either in acting, singing or playing the guitar and piano. One school production my beautiful younger sister Clara played the part as “Beauty” in “Beauty and the Beast” and so I took part in the band and played the piano for the theme song, sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. My parents were so proud of both of us taking part in something together. I really wanted my sister to shine and just feel the love and support from me as her older sister. She looked absolutely stunning, waltzing to this song as I played for her.

Music is so significant, it signifies moments in our lives, expressions of emotions and memories. I cannot remember where I have placed things at times but you ask me what I was doing 20 years ago, I can tell you by recollection of what song or music I was listening to on the radio or television at that time. Everyone needs music in their lives, it’s the one language we can all understand and relate too.

My parents would always have us children singing songs, music was always alive in our home. We grew up without a television and only listened to radio Rhema, a Christian radio station in New Zealand in the late 70’s, early 80’s, but that was okay because we were content with that. I loved listening to my father sing, he sounded like a Tenor opera singer. He had power and authority in his voice, but when speaking to us he had a gentle and kind voice, like he still does.

My two sisters and I would always practice songs during the week to perform an item at church each Sunday and we loved doing that. Our harmonies were always in sync and timing was impeccable, Clara would sing the melody, Eli would sing soprano and I would sing alto because neither of my sisters could reach the low notes haha! Relatives and friends would ask us to sing at weddings, birthdays, you name it, we were there singing.

I then went on to singing backup vocals in a band for eleven years and loved every moment of it. Singing alongside professional musicians is such an amazing feeling. Being on stage was a thrill and a privilege, but on the down side I missed out on immediate and extended family events and occasions. But when I could, I would attend family gatherings, even if I turned up an hour before finishing time. We were such a happy go lucky type of band but a committed one at that, always being punctual for practices and gig dates. All we wanted to do was to share our love for music and that’s what I appreciated about my friends in the band. We still strongly keep in touch with each other. Below is a YouTube video of one of our recordings. By the way, I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter while doing this track, very hard to breathe when you’re trying to use your diaphragm to sing ha!

My husband then asked me to do an album with his older brother Mata and so I made time to do that for him, not realising how much this album has now meant so much to him. ‘My brother-in-law passed away to cancer in 2012 and I’m so glad that I did this album with him. My dear husband occasionally listens to his brothers other albums, just to hear his voice. How music is also a lifesaver, reminding us of our lost loved ones. Mata was very popular amongst the French Polynesian and Cook Island music listeners. Everyday we miss his jovial laugh and his joking attitude. This YouTube video clip is from our album “Matahina Roots” taken from our names but is also a Manihikian ancestress of ours. The song he is singing is an old French Polynesian song describing how a person feels dead without his lovely maiden.

When I gave birth to my daughter in 2002, my life was complete. The music was sweeter and it had more meaning. I would sing to her while she was in my stomach and when she was born I continued to sing to her. I still sing to her now and it always soothes her before bedtime, or when she’s not well and sick. Music is my best friend, it has always been there for me during my sad and happy times.

I had the last waltz with you, two lonely people together. I fell in love with you, the last waltz should last forever!.