“The birth of my youngest, my daughter, Marika, in 1982, brought me to New Zealand for the first time. Her mother, Paula Swan, was from there and we were bringing our baby to meet her grandparents.
I immediately found New Zealand and the South Pacific to be very beautiful and hospitable. It provided heart and soul with all the gracious things that inspire the minds and spirits of artists to gracious flight.
Soon after our arrival I found myself at the great museum in Auckland and was overwhelmed with the art and culture of the Maori. Being a wood carver and coming from a carver’s culture, I was in awe of the style and quality and volume — and most important, the spiritual depth and power of the art forms. I found myself unable to get enough of it all, to be touched and fed and protected by it all. I was delighted to find I could sense the deep and powerful meaning behind the faces and forms. For sure, these things of these people respected and welcomed me.
My first and most precious moments with the Maori were visiting in Auckland at the home of Amelia and Eruera Sterling. Amelia Sterling had looked after Paula when she was a child and they were delighted to see her and meet the new family. The feel of their home and their voices and movements were so loving and real that I knew, beyond any doubt, that like my child, I was home. These elders loved and respected us on the basic facts that we were life and we were theirs.
To this day the memory of seeing them sitting side by side on their porch smiling and waving to us as we left fills my heart to bursting and will forever tie my soul to their people.
I have been reborn a number of times in a number of ways by a number of different people - and through our daughter, Marika, I was born to the Sterlings and the Maori of the East Cape — and no matter how many more places I go and other people I become, I will in my heart and soul also remain Maori.”
Joe David was born in 1946 at Opitsaht, a Clayoquot village on Meares Island, on the western shore of Vancouver Island. The family resettled to Seattle, Washington, in 1958—and they moved frequently during his teen years. His father, Hyacinth David, was a respected chief and elder of the Clayoquot nation, and even though he had removed his family from Nuu-chah-nulth territory, he remained connected to the village and practiced the traditional values and ceremonies.
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