Tahitian Hanalei Reponty’s Designs Are Divine
FEATURE // INTERVIEW
Hanalei Reponty is not your average designer. Born in Tahiti, the 27-year-old mermaid through and through, grew up among the luscious, volcanic archipelago of the South Pacific where family, the village, fresh food and the ocean go hand-in-hand. She has salt running through her veins.
It was this deep environmentally diverse and community immersed upbringing that allowed her to develop into a strong, intelligent and mindful girl of the sea. At 17, Halalei travelled on her own, to Sydney, Australia to study commerce at university, before being recognised for her talents as a surfer and model. With the support of her mother and family, Hanalei stayed on track with her studies and made clever choices that have lead her into a position where she now runs her own brand and company Abysse with her mother as business her partner. Their relationship has been tested, as any mother/daughters are, but they now boast some of the finest and most ecologically friendly wetsuits in the world and their relationship is stronger than ever.
Halalei has just released a collaboration with Haydenshapes Surfboards, in which her magical manta ray prints have been in-layed to the internationally renowned boards. It is so inspiring to see collabs forming like this, and young entrepreneurs in surf supporting each other to create incredibly beautiful performance products.
To celebrate this project, we spoke to Hanalei about growing up in a tropical paradise, why she carefully chose HS to partner with and her favourite Tahitian recipe that you can try at home.
THE MERMAID SOCIETY: Tell us about life growing up in Tahiti, surely it’s like a real-life version of Moana. Is it a lot of living off the land and the sea and strong village life?
HANALEI: Growing up in Tahiti was truly like growing in Paradise (or at least my version of paradise). Surrounded by beauty, nature and the ocean. Everywhere you look to colours are so vivid, so saturated. The nature is around you, a part of your daily life, and you can’t help but stare and love the ocean that brings so much life to our island.
Island life is very convivial, everyone knows each other and there is a true sense of community. The main town of Papeete is a small town, which means that growing up no one really cared about fashion or anything of the sort; the only thing that mattered was being in a bikini on the beach.
Growing up on a small island gave me so much love for our environment, and preserving it. It also taught me respect, respect your elders and respect your land. What is the most memorable thing about island life for you?
The people are truly what make Tahiti a beauty. Everywhere you go, their kindness, their smile, their simplicity touches you. The island is beautiful but its people are magnificent.
What are three things that people don’t generally know about Tahiti?
1. Tahiti is part of French Polynesia, which actually consists of 118 little islands dispersed over the Pacific Ocean that are grouped into five archipelagos.
2. Tahiti is a French territory although both Tahitian and French are still spoken throughout the islands.
3. All islands are very diverse. Some are inhabited, some are very old (which results in an atoll: with a lagoon in the middle of the island as the island has sunken on itself), some are still very wild. The diversity of French Polynesia makes its beauty.
You obviously have a strong relationship with the ocean how did that develop over time?
Growing up in Tahiti, I was always enchanted by the ocean. My parents taught me how to swim before I could walk, and threw me on their board at the tender age of two. I have always felt this deep connection with its beauty, its inhabitants. Growing up, we would surf as much as we could on our several beach breaks and reef breaks, we would dive, swim, paddle, or try to spend as much time in the crystal clear lagoon as possible. This special relationship developed over time. After travelling all around the world, I realized how special and privileged I was to have grown up in such an amazing environment. It made me proud and I wanted to share my voice in preserving our oceans all around the world.
Haydenshapes boards are known for being user-friendly and give so many people such an enjoyable experience in the ocean. What board do you ride and what do you love most about it?
Yes, Haydenshapes are just so much fun to ride. I absolutely love the Hypto Krypto as I feel like I could surf any conditions, at any time, anywhere with it. (SEE ALSO: The New HayenShapes Blonde in The Mermaid Society Board Review). It’s the board that is always in my car. I have really been loving the Plunder for fun surfs on long point breaks or the Untitled for more performance waves. Lately, Hayden shaped me a longboard, and I have been having such a blast riding it, taking me back to my roots of longboarding.
Your designs fit in so well with their sleek custom board designs. How did the project come about and what’s the idea behind this design?
After seeing my social media and brand Abysse, Danielle and Hayden reached out to me in order to meet up. I was ecstatic. After a quick meeting we all fell in love with each other and each other’s company. We all felt that Abysse and HS were such a strong connection, with the same eye and DNA. We both aim to take our customer on a journey, with a sense of technical element that makes our products top quality, while having a touch of style and fashion infused in our products.
We came up with putting the Abysse’s iconic ‘stingray’ print on a board, using its masculine-feminine duality & clean aesthetic that represents so well both brands; and adding a touch to my love for the ocean. I absolutely love the design and how it came out!
Being an island baby, you must have a killer fresh fish dish. What’s your fave, can you share the recipe?
I will have to say that I miss the food in Tahiti almost more than anything else. I absolutely love eating fresh fish every day. This is a classic Tahitian recipe, and our most famous dish.
– Cut fresh Ahi Tuna (or any kind of tuna you may have) into little cubes and let them simmer in salted water in the fridge
– Cut tomatoes and cucumber in little cubes, as well as an onion, garlic and chives
– Squeeze the juice of 4 lemons in a bowl
– In an ideal situation: squeeze coconut’s meat in a cloth in order to make coconut’s milk; or use coconut’s milk from a can if you are not somewhere tropical
– Drain the Tuna and add to a large bowl. And the lemon to the tuna and mix it well. The tuna will cook in the lemon juice.
– Add veggies and garlic
– Add the coconut’s milk on top
This recipe is usually served with white rice!
It is delicious!