Contact Us  Subscribe  Art 
Iaorana Tahiti

Sept 4, 2011
I woke to a view of Papara Village, west Tahiti Island. I can see in many directions to the mountains and the sea. How blessed I was to be hosted by Kevin Lapenia and his wife Paloma and their family. This is a sacred hill home to Paloma's royal family for centuries.
My room at Papara Village- includes dog

Even before I came to Tahiti (this is my first trip) I met many people that knew and spoke so highly of Kevin and his family. Kevin is a well known musician and I contacted him on Face Book through his sister Corie, who I went to high school with.
On the flight over I was fortunate to sit near Tapuarii Laughlin, a popular singer and husband to Mahina who I know from Hanalei. I was trying to meet Tapuarii on Kauai but never did so it was cool to talk with him on the plane.

Upon my arrival I and began my education of French Tahitian law AKA “Customs”. I must admit I was ignorant about declaring all the gifts and art supplies I brought. The government does not seem to want un-taxable items brought in too much. They searched my boxes thoroughly and after endless bags of   kakimochi and canned Vienna sausage, they gave up and let me in. The customs guy said I needed a phone number for where I was staying. I pulled out a paper plate that I got at a luau in Waimanalo. On it was written “Chief Miko” and his phone number. That got me through.
Chief Miko and Chief Viri at Correa’s Ranch in Waimanalo

Today, Sunday, they are hosting a brunch for me to meet the family. Poisson cru, sashimi, coffee in the cereal bowl, coconut milk and so much more. I won't loose weight here...

Drove out to Tahiti iti (small island) today. Met a cool artist named Victor Lefay who lives on the beach in a cool house like my old place on Waimanalo beach.

Victor Lefay and his art work

Victor found this drift “wood”

Then we drove out to Teahupo'o for the last day of the food stands from the Billabong Surfing Contest. Beautiful day.


Heading back from 3 days on Mo'orea. The most amazing mountains. Visited some horses. My host Cher took me around for three days. I thought I was going to stay with a lesbian couple because I have been communicating with Cher for about a month and she said she is with a partner named Michelle, and she said we would be teaching her friends family- Heloise and Yvonne. I told everybody I was staying with gay women and visiting their lesbian friends. When Cher took to her house there was a man in the yard. He said to me “you don’t look Chinese”. I thought “you don’t look like a woman”. Turns out Cher is married to a Man named Michel and Heloise’s Husband is named Yvon. What a dumb tourist I am!

A local Mo’orea Auntie and Cher (right)

Yesterday I lived the dream of a traveling art teacher. Had a class outside a beach house with a few Tahitian children. Ate a great lunch prepared by Heloise and Yvon. I learn a lot of my French language from the kids. They did not want to stop painting. I went swimming and in the middle of the ocean in Mo’orea, came across a pile of people wading in the lagoon. They happened to be my friends from Hawaii and Moloka'i- Dukey, Rodlyn and ohana. It was their first trip to Tahiti also.

 I stayed a couple days at the Kaveka Hotel. Seeing how the other half live. It's what you imagine an old Tahitian Vacation should look like. I must admit that I did absolutely nothing but think and lounge for an hour and a half. That was my vacation part.

View from the Kaveka Hotel

Tonight I paint a demonstration at the Transformation center in Papeete. Run by Edualdo and Aline Cicero. Tomorrow doing art for a TV show and then a presentation at night back at Papara Village with Kevin and Paloma and friends.

Friday in September...
The painting session at the transformation center was wonderful. I got to meet many local aspiring artist who like to paint while they praise The Lord. It seems there is not a lot of painting instruction on Tahiti. There are great artists and they are held in high esteem. But it seems artists teach themselves for the most part here. I had an ono dinner at the “roulottes (Lunch wagons) with my host Edualdo Cicero and his family.

Art night at the Transformation Center in Papeete

Me, Edualdo and Paloma

This morning Tiana Fabre from the TV station TNTV came to do an interview for an art program. She ended up staying all day and actually doing a small painting herself. The fare (hale-house) where we do art classes is so classic a setting.

In the evening neighbors, family and guests came over for get together and I presented a sideshow of wildlife and art. They really enjoyed it. Especially the part about my secret art frog. It seemed so unusual to them that a frog actually taught me how to paint...I guess cause there's no frogs in Tahiti.

Then all twenty of us started painting little paintings with Genesis oil paints. It was a good night at Papara Village’s Fare Pote’e (ancient style oval house).

Our first full painting workshop impressed me with the family atmosphere for learning. Paloma is a teacher and helped me very much to make the most impact on the students, some of which were her own children. We even had a couple professional artists who had never tried oil painting before. I always ask professional artists who take my class respectfully “Please let me talk to you like you never painted before because you can get the most out of me today if you try a painting the way I do it”.

Painting Workshop in the Fare Pote’e

Papara Villages Fare Pote’e

Munuha and his painting

Hituterai and her Kiwi painting

Animals in Tahiti:
I observed many of the same animals in Tahiti as in Hawaii. The fish are similar like jacks, goat fish, parrot fish, and reef fish like Moorish Idol. I saw two kinds of mullet, a smaller one with black and yellow fins, and a larger one with grey yellow fins. A woman who worked at the hotel was catching the large ones for her boss who owned the hotel. They have lots of brown noddies, fairy terns and another white tern. Myna Birds, doves, pigeons, bulbulls, a bright red bird with black wings, and a bird I haven’t met yet called the Vini (also the name of their cellular telephones). There are some horses and cattle and pigs. Dogs rule the streets. There is octopus but people don't seem to eat them as much as in Hawaii. They do like sea urchin and often put out fresh caught catches of all kinds to sell on the street for people to purchase on their way home.

Parrotfish Uru

Plants and food:
Taro is grown here but hardly eaten as poi as in Hawaii. It is served more as a table taro. They have dishes called po‘e but they are made with fruits in a desert style. One of my favorites I been hearing about for years is fafaru (Fresh fish in fermented sea water with shrimp and coconut shavings) an acquired taste that I instantly liked. Tahitians eat and mash food with their hands, Umming noises are ok...I'm home!

Sunday Heiva's Birthday Party:
I helped clean the yard and prep for Heivalani's 22nd birthday party. The party was wonderful with friends and family from the village and beyond coming to visit. I am so at home and even have cattle and a Bull in the yard to play with.

Vehia, Uncle Gerard, Kevin and Ariitoa give a sunset concert
Kevin and friends played concert quality music as the sun went down giving the valley a glow and lighting up the mango tree we gathered under. The full moon rose from the other direction. It is high tide in my heart. The moon is pulling on it especially hard tonight.
Tomorrow I’m off to Huahine Island. Stepping into old Tahiti. Out of touch for a while.

Paloma (right) and her Mamie Edna

Nathalie and Vaea celebrating Heivalani’s Birthday

I was so fortunate to be hosted by Dorothea Levy on the island of Huahine. She is the hanai mother of legendary singer and artist Bobby Holcomb. Though he died twenty years ago, Bobby was so loved by the Tahitian people and his music and art sparked pride among Tahiti’s people much like Brudduh Iz did for Hawaiians.

Dorothea Levy and

“Dorotea” set me up to teach some classes at the local high school. It was so good fun teaching drawing and learning Tahitian and French from the kids there. One class was filmed by a local TV station and the cameraman asked why I came to this far away school to teach these kids?
I told him “hopefully, if they see me in the surf, they will let me catch a wave”.


That afternoon I met Sophie Twigsmith, an artist from Hawaii, who let me borrow a surfboard. She pointed to a surf break far off in the distance. It was known as Bali Hai. I walked out to a point and watched it break. Perfect little lefts. Nobody out. Is there a reason? It seemed like a mile long paddle over a deep water pass (channel). It was about the same as paddling to Rabbit Island from Oahu. That same small feeling when you feel like a speck in the ocean paddling across the dark blue. The view was amazing of the mountains and distant islands...and the waves so clean. Breaking right on shallow reef. Great if you don’t Wipe Out! Little things started stinging me in the water. Is this why nobody is out? I felt the feeling. The one I can’t even say. You know the one. Even heard the music. What if I die here? Then I looked around. What a beautiful place to die. After a while, two guys came out. More fun. Chances are better now. One in three. Caught waves till sundown and then the paddle in. Alone again. Deep lonely blue. Chances are...Greater...

Survived the paddle in and that night had dinner with Dorotea, her friend Marty and Marty's husband Moe. Moe is good fun. He is covered with tattoos from a man named Tihoti. I've heard of Tihoti from my friends in Kauai who have tattoos by him. We are actually staying in Tihoti's house on Huahine. Tihoti happens to be in Tahiti at this time. He is usually on Norfolk Island where his wife is from. (If you'd like a wild chapter of history find accounts of the survivors of the Mutiny on the Bounty story and how they came to inhabit Norfolk Island).

Moe and his tattoos by Tihoti

Next Day
Holo-holo (“odi haedi in Tahitian) with Dorotea around the island. Stop at Mark and Moea‘s place on the beach at Maeva. Mark is an excellent artist and sculpture. That afternoon we painted with a group of 5 adults and 4 kids at Sophie’s house. Just getting to know the folks and give what input I could was nice. Focused on Skies and clouds.


After that went for a long swim in crystal waters. Had dinner at Katy’s house with Dorotea and a local teachers and waterman named Ra’anui. I enjoyed their families and hospitality and ate pizza till I couldn’t move. I fell asleep on Dorotea’s couch and when she woke me to tell me go upstairs to my bed, I sprang up and said something like “Tauhiti!” I was in the middle of a dream. Now they call me Tauhiti. Paloma says one translation could be “flying on the edge”. Sounds good. I accept.

Early morning next day...
I'm raking and burning rubbish and smoking out the neighbors when Ra'anui comes by with a boat and two surfboards. “lets go to Fiti‘i pass while nobody is out!”. Sounds good so I jump in and head for my dream day in Tahiti.

We pass through a school of dolphins on the way to a perfect right wave, but it breaks right before the shallow reef. When you wipe out on the reef you gotta think light and tumble high in the water. A better plan is just Don't wipe out! I remember the words of Waimanalo surfer Bruddah Gramberg... “Just remember, you Not goin' Die today...”

Ra’anui on the ocean

We cast anchor (a big rock) the boat and enjoy hours of surf with only the two of us. In the afternoon I take the car and cruise the island and stop at a cool gallery of artist named Melanie. On the little islet of Maeva. Melanie was painting with me the day before. She is very good and prolific. That afternoon I put together a barbeque grill for Dorotea and her friends then head off to my plane back to Tahiti.


Next day...
Today is Paloma's Birthday so Papara Village is preparing for a party. I'm heading to the other side of the Island to spend the day with the artist Tihoti. He is a wealth of information and he loves his Tahitian culture and to share his language. He has a good heart. I know that I will be different from this day on and I’ll be honored to carry his art on me. I get a tattoo about once every twenty years. Today is the day.

Tihoti and his latest art

The ride back from Teoti's to the other side of the island is beautiful and...Thrilling. Just like how I grew up. Mahalo Tehau for that one. Tehau is 23, likes Reggae and surfing and boxing. We have a lot in common and he becomes fluent in English by the time we get back to Papara Village. When we return, Paloma's Party is in full swing. It is my last night in Tahiti. I will remember it forever. Paloma is a cancer survivor so the songs and dances and family time is extra sweet. I went to bed early to the angelic songs of her friends and family. So beautiful it echoed through my dreams.

Last day...
Went to town with Kevin and then up to Temaruata Heights to Dolores (Paloma’s sister’)s house overlooking Mo’orea. Beautiful!
Mo’orea in the distance

Took in a local singing contest then took the family to dinner for the continuation of Paloma's birthday. At the airport I saw my friend Chief Miko. He was awaiting the arrival of the chiefs of Polynesia. They get together on Motiti island every hundred years. It was an honor to meet them and be in their presence. The plane takes off to Hawaii. Niiieeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Looking forward to my return!

Patrick (Tauhiti)

ref no:10108

Like Our Facebook


Please send questions about this website to
Copyright© 2004 - 2019 Patrick Ching. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use / Legal Disclaimer / Privacy Statement
Site Designed and Managed by MacBusiness Consulting