Spirit of Tivaevae

Garden Grove, California | Film Feature


Melodie Turori

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $5,203 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

25 supporters | followers

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A warm tropical island in the South Pacific is last place you'd expect to find a cultural history of quilting more than 150 years old. All contributions are tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor From the Heart Productions.

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About The Project

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The Story

NOW through June 13: A generous sponsor is matching all contributions up to a total of $500!!

All contributions are tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor From the Heart Productions.


Growing up, I was aware that my blood held a dual heritage, but I didn’t begin to understand how that identity might impact my life until I was 21. As I began to dive into my Cook Islands roots I learned the term “coconut,” slang for a person who is brown on the outside but white on the inside. “Coconut” is mostly used in a derogatory fashion, but it's the best way to explain how I feel in the presence of other Pacific Islanders who know their culture.

The more young Pacific Islanders I meet, the more I realize that I am not alone in harboring the secret fear that I’ll never quite measure up. I’ve also come to realize this is a ridiculous fear that holds too many of us back from embracing cultures we were born to inherit.

Our heritage is there if we choose to grasp it — there is no shame in being a coconut who is late to the cultural party (hey man, we were just running on Island time!)

With a little help from Google, I found my invitation to the cultural party in the art of tivaevae. When images of the vibrant, meticulously hand sewn quilts popped onto the computer screen my jaw dropped.

This wasn't the first time I'd seen tivaevae. My family had been keeping three of the queen-sized blankets tucked away in closet for years. We just didn't know what they were or why they were important.

My dad tells me he can remember being sent outside to play so his mum could use the living room floor to work on her tivaevae. Based on tradition, she should have been the first person I called once I decided to learn tivaevae — however, my nana has dementia now and that avenue of learning has been closed to me. I wish I would have known to ask her about tivaevae 9 years ago, the last time we spent time together.

There are still many living tivaevae artists, mamas with decades of knowledge and wisdom that will enrich the lives of many young women — if that knowledge is preserved.

Creating this documentary is a way to share the wisdom of the women who came before us, to preserve their stories and place in history for future generations.


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Production Assistants

Costs $1,200

Thou shalt not film alone! We're hiring a few talented local filmmakers to assist on big shoot days.


Costs $200

Gotta keep our most precious camera gear safe during the flight overseas.

Monitors - External Monitors

Costs $200

"What a nice monitor you have," people will say. "All the better to see you with," we'll reply.

Lenses – Tokina 11-16mm

Costs $500

This baby will help us show you the incredible beauty of tivaevae, the Cook Islands, and NZ.

Accessories - Batteries

Costs $60

Spare batteries will make sure we're ready to roll camera at any moment.

Boompoles & Wind Protection - K-Tek KE-110 9.5’ Internally Cabled

Costs $180

A boompole lets us get the mic in close so we don't miss any good stories!

Hard Drive

Costs $280

Two travel-sized hard drives will keep our footage and photos safe and backed-up!

Accessories - Storage / Media

Costs $50

Lightning fast memory cards to record all that gorgeous island scenery in full HD.

Hotel Room

Costs $400

For the handful of nights when there's not a couch to crash on (probably while in Wellington).

Car Rental

Costs $600

There's more ground to cover in NZ so we'll need some wheels (gotta remember to drive on the left!)


Costs $250

A rental car will need some gas...err, oops. Petrol. The car will need some petrol!

Baggage Fees

Costs $310

It'll be warm in the Islands but cold in NZ. Plus all the gear...yep. We're gonna need an extra bag.


Costs $270

For when the unexpected strikes.

About This Team

Melodie Turori, Director/Producer
Melodie co-produced OC Crime Catchers, a 3-part television series that aired on PBS OC and was nominated for Best Documentary/Reality at ITVFest 2011. She is currently the Digital Content Coordinator for Sportscasters Talent Agency of America and a freelance editor and shooter at Garden Grove Channel 3. Melodie is the Cook Islands representative on the Pacific Islander Community Council (PICC) and an active member of PACCC.
Apii Napa, Cook Islands Field Producer
I have always had a passion to work in the Media field. I worked at our local TV station as writer for the local herald and anchor to present our local news every night. This passion eventually helped me two years ago to make on behalf of the Cook Islands National Council for Women my first short film and the Cook Islands first ever short film made locally. The short film “The Island Night” depicts the story of a young girl’s reality when faced with illness of a parent and the decisions she has to make.

I believe that film making is an important means to share stories. To raise the capacity of Cook Islands story tellers to tell their own digital stories to the world.
Click here to read more about Apii.
Ani O’Neill, Cook Islands Field Producer
Arerangi “Sammy” Tongia, Cultural Advisor
Former Director/Curator, National Museum of the Cook Islands, Ministry of Cultural Development, Government of the Cook Islands.

Current Team