Damien's cover image

Damien Snell

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: National Arts - Visual > Woodcarving And Turning
To learn the traditional arts and language once practiced on Norfolk Island - Pitcairn Island, Tahiti

The idea to pursue the art of wood carving under a well-known craftsman which my ancestry blood lines are linked to, drove me deep into the South Pacific Ocean to what we call the Home Land – “Pitcairn Island”.

The outcome would be to bring this knowledge home to share with others on Norfolk Island who wished to follow in their Bounty forebears’ footsteps.

I would start collecting information from the Elders on Norfolk to find out which path I should take. This was done in a survey and house visits, and proved to be the catalyst for me to head to Pitcairn.

Pitcairn delivered more than I expected in just a short period of time. The Pitcairn community explained to me in fine detail the information I was seeking and I returned home knowing that what I took away was what I went in search of.

I would visit different families on the Island, all having a very similar set of skills required to sustain a very unique Island lifestyle.

Time on the Island wasn’t only taken up with wood carving but all things to do with culture, not just that which I belonged to, the “Mutiny of the Bounty” story, but that of the Polynesians who stood on that Island many years before our Tahitian foremothers raised their Bounty children up in a peaceful life.

The importance of the Language we speak at home and on Pitcairn was proved when I found it followed on from the very old words of Tahitian, words that even the Tahitians don’t use today.

These findings didn’t fall into my lap but came by a man who himself has been studying his origins, Mr Tihoti Matauteute Barff Faara.

Together we searched out answers to my many questions and he was able to answer nearly all of my enquiries.
My findings also proved to me that the Norfolk and Pitcairn Islanders are closer to our Polynesian foremother’s side within mannerisms, humour, general day to day behaviour and logic thinking then that of our English forefathers.

My ancestry connections are dying faster than I had realised before this trip.

I now stand on an edge wondering what direction to go in?

Keywords: Pitcairn, Norfolk, wood carving, elders, language

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