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Turtle shell a prized possession for Tokelauan artist

25 October 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Ruci Farrell -

A giant turtle shell is among one Tokelauan artist's most prized possessions. 

Merisa Bickerstaff's turtle shell. Photo/ PRN. 

Auckland-based artist Merisa Bickerstaff has had the shell in her family since the 1970s and says it symbolises the connection she has to her homeland. 

She says the turtle shell embodies the legacy of her parents and the legends of the Pacific Ocean.

"Since I was a young girl I was always fascinated by it," she says. "My parents, whenever they spoke of Tokelau, they'd share the story of the turtle shell."

Merisa Bickerstaff at the Tokelau Language Week. Photo/ PRN.

Turtles are core to Tokelauan folklore and Bickerstaff says as part of her work, she promotes environmental awareness for the sake of turtles. 

"It's part of our culture and for the kids to not throw plastic bags in the ocean."

Turtles used to be a rare delicacy shared by most Pacific nations but are now endangered.

Tags: environment, Tokelau,