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‘Ol’ol, Olioli, Ololi

The Ololi was a girdle worn around the waist that was covered in the red Armea bird feathers

Stories, chants, songs that record knowledge and are passed down from our grandparents and parents and family, we know is meaningful but sometimes as young people we do these practices out of duty and respect but sometimes we don’t delve deep into the meaning of songs and chants and often we don’t put the pieces together. For example in one of our storytelling session, the artists talked about a particular piece called the Olioli.

The Olioli was one of the pieces we had very little information about, but that we had particular interest in because it noted that it was a loin cloth. We discussed that we knew of the use of tit ves ves, natural fibre skirt made from the hibiscus tree bark, but had not heard we wore loincloth similar to Tahitian and other Polynesian counterparts. Gardiner had also discussed this piece,

“Another dress, pertaining to some of the officers, was the ololi; it appears to have been really a sort of apron, made of a fine mat, and hung down in front. It was almost completely covered with the red feathers of the arumea (Myzomela chermesina, Gray); its use was restricted to particular feasts..”

During the storytelling sessions one of the participants noted,

“ Oli oli… My understanding of this particular word..we had actually danced to a tiap hi and it had this word in it. And so the lyrics it talked about sort of like a garland..“So, like when I first heard, I thought it was a garland…” (Artist)

This same participant later consulted with an Elder to gain more insight into this piece and he noted,

“the pronunciation was the ‘ol’ol” (Participant).

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