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Tribute: Reina

Saturday, April 14, 2007 by Marianne Elliott

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Anyday now my newest godson is due to emerge from his warm, safe place and come out to meet the world. His mother, Reina, is one of my most loyal and treasured friends. The gorgeous photo above was taken at her wedding to Wairere, a man so perfect for Reina that I wasn't even surprised when she told me only months after they met that they had started trying to have a baby together.

Reina and I met at university, both of us back in the student life after sometime in the workplace. Now studying for the pure love and passion of it, we soaked up our film studies, post-colonial literature and critical theory papers and spent countless hours in the Quad drinking fancy expresso coffees that we couldn't really afford, talking about films and discovering each other's life story so far.

We both married young to wonderful, loveable men and then divorced young as well – suffering much more than people looking on might have ever guessed.

We each set off in opposite directions across the globe following our dreams. Reina went to NYC where she studied film, worked with reknowned director Spike Lee and learned not to trust people as easily as we did in New Zealand. I went to the Gaza Strip where I documented human rights violations, worked with the reknowned human rights lawyer Raji Sourani and learned that I didn't necessarily have to be tough to do this job well.

We each fell in love with damaged men, damaging ourselves in the process and had to help each other find our way back to our own inner strength and wisdom.

Through all these years we lived 1000's of kilometres away from each other and yet, through Sunday afternoon phone marathons and rushed emails, we kept sight of each other and always knew that the other was there, cheering and believing and loving.

Reina inspired me when she was a film student, working endless hours to squeeze every drop of learning she could out of the opportunity. She inspired me when she was making her own film, persevering through seemingly disastrous first edits and telling a simple but moving story of a girl in whom I could see a little of my strong, beautiful friend.

She inspired me when she was falling in love with Wairere, taking bold and beautiful leaps of faith into a relationship that had 'meant to be' written all over it. She inspired me as she combined raising their beautiful daughter Maioro with directing television shows, writing her next film script and sitting on panels of "Maori women in TV and Film". She inspires me today as she chooses to concentrate on what is most precious to her, caring for Maioro and my new godson, loving Wairere and building a family and home.

I have always felt privileged to be loved by Reina, not least because she loves so loyally. After months of absence I can walk into her home, curl up on the couch with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and feel as though I was never away. It was an honour and a blast being bridesmaid at her wedding (note to brides, there is great grace and generosity in selecting fabulously sexy dresses for your single bridesmaids to wear). Now it is an even greater honour and a huge blessing to be godmother to her and Wairere's son.

I am thinking of her constantly as she waits (increasingly impatiently) for my godson to decide to make his appearance, and I'm once again reminded how lucky I am to have such a friend.

Kia kaha, Reina, not long now.
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9 Responses to "Tribute: Reina"

  1. ceanandjen says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your amazing friend. Here is to a lifetime of friendship between the two of you.xoxo

  2. You write so beautifully about your dear friend, Frida- blessings to the new little one coming and to his family that means so much to you…

  3. [a} says:

    You have cool friends.

  4. AnnieElf says:

    You two are a true blessing to each other. Your gift of words to hail your friend are a tribute to both of you and the strength of your friendship.

  5. susanna says:

    What a lovely tribute to your friend. Congratulations to Reina on her new little one. His birth will certainly be an exciting premiere!

  6. Alex says:

    You do have a way with words when it comes to treasuring your loved ones and the special moments and experiences in your life. It takes an amazing friend and writer to pay amazing tribute like that! xxo

  7. Leslie says:

    What a beautiful story….I too have a best friend…we met 47 years ago when we were both 10 and have remained best of friends…girlfriends who have shared all of each other’s “firsts”.

  8. Paris Parfait says:

    Fantastic photo and a lovely tribute to your friendship. xo

  9. mahima says:

    the photo is beautiful.
    so is the post.
    i love the words you use.
    this is inspiring in some sensitive, warm way.

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