One of the great things about networking, and being in spaces with other creatives, is the incredible women you meet. Even though you may not see each other very often, it is almost like your souls are now connected by a creative thread. A thread that crosses cultural and geographical boundaries. Jackie Harvey is one of those individuals, and I met her when I attended the Weave Group at Parramatta.
For many years I felt a disconnect to my culture, I had almost convinced myself that I didn’t even have one. If anything, I was envious of others, I was just an Anglo Australian. What made it worse was that I was not a person who connected with the many qualities of Australian culture, I felt like a fish out of water.
It was this strong Maori woman, who is firmly rooted in her past and deeply connected to family, that provided a light for my path. She has shown me what it means to stand strong in the face of adversity, how vital it is to embrace your culture, dig deep and look for it, and the how imperative it is that we pass culture down to future generations.
A weaver and healer Jackie is based in Western Sydney.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.
Hikurangi is the Mountain
on the East Coast of the North Island,
Waiapu is the river,
Ngāti Porou is the tribe,
Te Aowera is the sub-tribe, the Ancestor and the Meeting House,
Pahau is the family,
Wiremu Pahau is my grandfather,
Amiria Hurae McLean is my Grandmother,
Josephine Pahau is my Mum.
Ian Harvey is my Dad,
He is Scottish and English Heritage,
Fifth generation from New Plymouth.
Born in Gisborne NZ, I was first raised in the East Coast as a toddler, before my grandfather’s older brother took our family to New Plymouth. I grew up in New Plymouth, spending my holidays on the East Coast at Ruatoria with my Grandparents on the farm and family homestead.
Because of that time spent there, at the foot of those mountains on both the East and the West Coast, I now have a natural affinity for the land. So, the land informs my practice. It opens my heart in many ways and brings an expansion that connects me with the heavens and the cosmos.
That’s what I’m used to, mountains, stars, rivers – the expansiveness. Through weaving and healing I can reconnect with home, with the land that’s in my heart and in my soul. I can send my wairua spirit to soar there whenever my soul needs refreshing.
Weaving Kaakahu Traditional Maori Cloaks gives me space for my heart to grow, heal, expand, breathe, and cry. It
is my ancient Mirimiri (massage) that is my wave, helping me to come home and go with the flow…it massages my heart and my soul.
What is your greatest creative achievement?
There are a few.
My children…my heart and soul are woven into my children.
My first crochet blanket woven over the years with my Mum and my Grandmother around me.
And sitting with Aunty Kerrie Kenton collaborating on the “Invisible” Public Art Installation along Parramatta River. The experience gave me a glimpse of the immense responsibility she carries for her people.
What is your first memory of being creative?
Running out of the house as a toddler and taking off to the beach. Making outfits for my dolls like my Mum used to make for my sister and I. My dolls would have new outfits and new haircuts, and I’d give my sisters dolls new haircuts too!
Who or what inspires you?
My Mum is my biggest inspiration, and my Grandmother and Grandfather, her parents. My Grandparents looked after the homestead and family farm for our family and many shareholders. They maintained the mana and mauri, the life essence of the land, and my Mum did the same. That is quite a gift to maintain and sustain the life force and dignity of one’s family over generations. It’s why I’m grateful to have spent time with Elders like Aunty Kerrie Kenton here in Sydney. Because of her heart for maintaining and sustaining the ancient cultural Lore’s and ways of her people, they will continue to thrive and flourish in years to come.
Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?
It used to be hanging out with my Mum in her home because of the warmth of her Mauri there. She was always so encouraging, I knew she’d be watching my progress. Mum had metal valves put in her heart at 28 years old so, we could always hear her heartbeat in her home.
Now it’s when I’m hanging out with my children. I learnt some time ago by living in Australia without my family around me, and those tightly interwoven relationships that come with extended whanau family, that I’d come to find my heartbeat. It would be when I’d weave in the centre of my home for my children to see and feel my Mauri life essence, like my Mum and my Grandmother were the blessing of presence for me.
So, I clear and clean my home, I get the heart of my home warm with home cooked meals, I go to the sea to heal and feel refreshed. If I’m inspired in the morning when I wake up though, I’d rather get stuck into creating as soon as possible – messy hair and all.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
By being gentle with myself. The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and the War of Art by Steven Pressfield are good books that are also helpful.
What is one tip you would give other creatives?
You know it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to get done!
What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?
Favourite colour blue and white in the stars. Nga Mooteatea Ngata and Japanese Persian Rumi Love Poems, are books that speak to me. Listening to RnB and eating Prawn Pad Thai with nuts would be heaven. And my favourite place Ruatoria, on the North Island of New Zealand.
Make sure you head to Parramatta and check out the ‘Invisible’ public artwork.
If you are interested in Romiromi mirimiri bodywork you can connect with Jackie at: