It's funny how the universe provides some times. And so it is the case with how I met Safina. But first a bit about why I was looking.
I am really proud to be called a Kiwi, a pakeha, a New Zealander. Culture is important to me. Although I have lived overseas for more years than I lived in New Zealand the culture that I was brought up with forms a huge part of who I am. Maori culture, the symbols, traditions, language, legends as well as British and European history are part of who we are, who I am.
My daughter is Australian. I brought her up knowing her NZ cultural heritage - brain washing her from birth some might say! She could sing the NZ anthem before the Australian one, she can sing songs in Maori and count to ten. She knows some of the legends. When I thought that I should balance the books though I was saddened that I couldn't tell her much of her Australian heritage. In fairness I didn't look very hard.
Anyway to cut a long tale shorter, once I had decided to name the sportswear brand Lowanna (exquisite beauty, beautiful girl, tranquil waters), and as it was Australian based I wanted to assist in creating awareness of Australian symbols, legends, beliefs so they too could become as widely known as the silver fern, the koru, the taniwha.
A quick post on Facebook asking a group if they knew of any Aboriginal/Indigenous artists pointed me in the direction of Mary Mutsaers who has an art gallery in Inverloch, VIC. She was holding an exhibition. One of the exhibitors was Safina.
Safina is both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in Indigenous heritage so she is able to draw from a rich heritage to create stunning and meaningful artworks. Her Indigenous heritage comes from Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait and Wuthathi Country in Far North Queensland, and her Non-Indigenous heritage comes from Scotland. In an ironic twist Safina is married to a New Zealander and was born and lived in New Zealand as a small child for a number of years before living in Papua New Guinea and then returning to Australia.
Softly spoken and considered in what she says, Safina is passionate about educating and enriching people's lives through explaining her heritage. She believes in the dignity and equality of all people and wishes for mutual respect and acceptance between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
Our hope is that by joining together we can share the richness of this great land, it's animals, it's creation and stories as passed down through the generations.
Photo credit Eddie Jim for The Age.