The 10 most important things one should learn and do whilst on Pitcairn
Visit Nola and Reynold Warren
Whilst visiting Pitcairn Island we recommend that you check in with Nola and Reynold Warren and make a time to visit with them.
Their home is located past the Square, opposite and above the lane which takes you down to the cemetery.
We often refer to them as the last of the traditional Pitcairner’s. Their home is open and comfortable and the last of the early Pitcairn dwellings. The weather boards are the originals - made from the Tapu tree, milled many generations ago. Likewise, the floor bearers are from the ‘Laata’ tree, both primary building timbers of years ago.
When you visit, you’re likely to find Reynold out the front whittling away on his latest carving. To this day all his work is done by hand. From the log to the finished piece, no electric equipment is used. Although it may take him days, even weeks to complete a carving his preferred tools are an axe, carving knife and a piece of broken glass - its edge used to smooth the finished article. Given he is the last of the island’s traditional carvers, his work is considered collectable in the art world.
Nola will be just inside the door on her favourite weaving couch. Nola still harvests and cuts the thatch by hand, despite the ‘Paioori’ fronds sharp serrated edge. After many days of drying in the sun, its boiled, re-dried and then died with her favourite colours.
On her couch, Nola will be weaving the prepared thatch around a ‘Block’, its length and breadth ultimately determining the baskets final size. Her still nimble hands working in clockwork, with a precision and fluidity that could have only have come from years and years of working with the fine strands.
Nola is full of Pitcairn history which she will gladly share with you. Whether it’s genealogy, the origins of place names, a long lost recipe or simply how to make bread, Nola will guide you through a remarkable past, one which they still live to this day.
Nola and Reynold love to have visitors and will do everything to ensure you’re welcomed. Nola always has fresh baking on the ready, ‘sweeten biscuits’, ‘bread sticks’ or freshly baked bread straight out from her wood fired stone oven. The kettle will be on the boil.
Darrin, Zara and Brandon were keen to spend the day with Nola and Reynold.
Yep, Reynold was out front putting the finishing touches to a wooden turtle, when the trio arrived.
Proudly he describes to Darrin and Brandon the various methods he employs turning a limb of a Miro tree into a unique piece.
Reynold can even tell you when and where he cut the piece of timber from the tree.
…“Henderson Island, 1957”, with assurance he calmly states.
“Crickey, this newly carved turtles older than me” says Darrin.
Meanwhile Zara had wandered inside and made herself comfortable alongside Nola.
In true fashion, Nola filled the dining room table with her baking and everyone must first eat and drink before being taken on a journey through time.
Breadsticks, pineapple buns, sweeten biscuits, freshly baked bread adorn the table.
Nola shows off her ‘Bolt’, an open top fire place where she still to this day, cooks food and boils water.
Alongside is her ‘Stone Oven’. Everyone agrees the best bread in the world comes out of a Pitcairn stone oven.
Everyone’s pretty full when Reynold decides to head out into his garden.
Wandering down a meandering path, he eagerly shows off some of his favourite plants. One in particular is the coffee tree. He points out a stand, laden with beans that are close to ripening.
The variety is ‘Arabica’, one of the best beans in the world. The green bean will turn bright red once fully ripe. At that point it’s picked and naturally dried using the sun.
Further along the track under the cover of roofing iron is Reynold’s old wooden canoe.
Although he hasn’t used it for many years it’s still in very good condition.
He jokingly asks the boys if they would like to try and re-launch her.
Brandon spies an unusual flower.
Reynold’s not sure exactly what it is. However, he explains it’s been on his land since he was a kid.
Meanwhile Reynold shows off a very old variety of white grape.
“Every year it never fails to fruit, and big bunches too” Reynold proudly explains.
Next is his ‘Copper’. A large ‘copper’ bowl holding water, which is supported above the ground by rocks or in later years atop a 44 gallon drum, under which a fire is lit. It was once the means for heating water for cooking, washing and bathing.
Heading back inside, Brandon couldn’t resist helping himself to a bunch of sugar sweet, ripe bananas.
So what had Nola and Zara been up to whilst the boys were outside?
Under the close guidance of the master weaver, Zara had produced a traditional Pitcairn Island hand woven, hand painted fan.