Reconnecting in the Solomon Islands

In the last newsletter, I paid tribute to John Wayne, expert carver in Marovo Lagoon. I am continuing the story because it’s so important to recognize others who appeared in the film, supported me through the journey and some new friends made during this incredible trip!

In Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, and with the help of our host, Visit Solomon Islands, I was reconnected with one of the first direct descendants discovered on our expedition. Caroline’s significant painting, Marovo Lagoon Family, is a very beautiful piece of art. Maike, the young man, was described by Caroline as “tall and elegant … steeled-muscled and sleek …” Maike was an artist himself – and a good one. 

Scrapbook photos of Caroline working on Morovo Lagoon Family.

It took several days, but with the help of Ellison Kyere of Visit Solomon Islands, I was able to make connection with Terry Liva “Maike”. Terry lives and works in Honiara and although I only got to spend a brief time with him, it was such a pleasure to see him again and make sure his family had laminated copies of the painting and the film. 

Terry and Michele in Honiara.

This is NOT the end of the story of my visit to Solomon Islands. When at Uepi Island Resort, the carvers from area brought over their stunning art. A gentleman approached me and said, “I know you! You bought my very first lobster bowl.”  Yes, I did and it is proudly displayed in my home. Gary Ghuza has continued his work and created some absolutely amazing pieces.

Gary Ghuza and his young son. Photographed in 2005.
Gary Ghuza today working on beautiful carving. Photo by Tanya Burnett
Look at the marine animals Gary is carving in this stunning work of art!


Honiara is the capital of the Solomon Islands.  During our brief overnights in the city, Tanya and I were able to visit the new Solomon Islands National Art Gallery under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. I was so delighted to see the reproductions of Caroline’s art gifted via Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray and Consular Agent, Keithie Saunders last year at the Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival (MACFEST).  The Assistant Curator is Julie Ann Fakaia and she is an artist in her own right with paintings also displayed at the gallery. I’ve reconnected with friends from the past – and made new ones on this amazing journey.  

Julie Ann Fakaia, National Art Gallery
Presenting a copy of the film.

This month, I’m pleased to be giving two lectures about Caroline, Margaret and the power of art. The local chapter of the Society of Woman Geographers here in Seattle and the Northern California Chapter of Explorers Club in San Francisco are my hosts. Watch for updates!

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