I grew up in New Zealand on a dairy farm, milking cows and shoveling. In Polynesia, in New Zealand, the Maori culture is still very strong, the Maori language is strong. I danced and performed the Maori traditional dances and the puoi there, so my heart and soul and spirit are very moved when I hear Polynesian music, Maori music of New Zealand. I left New Zealand to sail around the world and eventually ended up in Pango Pango, Samoa and got a visa to come to the United States. I spent a year sailing in Hawaii–I was on the first international women’s ocean racing team there. I feel like I’m a citizen of the world, I don’t really recognize boundaries or borders.
I love Tucson Meet Yourself because it brings the world together in one place. I’m especially inspired by the memorial altar, because I lost a son who died of a brain tumor at age 11. He came to this festival every year for seven years. I think my greatest sorrow in life is having to have borne that with my son. I have four wonderful children, who are doing very good and kind things in the world. I feel proud of that because burying their brother was very painful for all of us. I do programs for other families of children with cancer here in Tucson– summer camps and other activities. I’m very proud of that.