Wednesday, 13 February 2019

5 features of diaspora Samoan women's identity markers...

'Return to Paradise' Resort beachfront in Legafa, Samoa
Today I decided to change tack in my PhD studies and reach out to other diaspora (living overseas from a point of origin) Samoa women via social media (and in this case Facebook) to ask about ideas or thoughts regarding what the top 5 features for identifying as Samoan women including rites of passage in our communities i.e. what sets us apart as uniquely Samoan women from other indigenous women groups?

In formal studies there's usually an ethics committee at the tertiary institution that one would have to go through to check on issues of privacy, the types of questions asked, storage of data, that would be asked that weren't offensive or leading, that the research undertaken would be dealt with ethically etc.

The Ethics committee is still a part of this study but I see this as a conversation starter through a social media platform to enable diaspora Samoan women to discuss this topic and if there is interest to be a part of my formal study then the opportunity will be there too.

I definitely have my own views but instead of launching directly into writing about them, I thought it best to consider a range of perspectives from women who identified as Samoan women whether they lived in Samoa or outside of the motherland.

For me I have particular interest in the views of those who live as diaspora Samoan women living outside of the motherland and particularly those living in New Zealand but views from other countries would also be interesting to learn about.

So you are most welcome to list your top five and give reasons for your answers on this website or via through the Facebook thread that I will begin. I guess for me the importance of having public engagement earlier on is that it will allow for women to discuss 'our' own issues or ideas genuinely without having pressure of being a part of a university study.

So what are your top 5 features and why?

Monday, 11 February 2019

'Green Book' movie review...

Last week I had the opportunity to watch the movie 'Green Book' which is currently playing in Cinemas based on the real-life story of two people: a world class African American concert pianist, Dr Don Shirley (has 7 PhDs and speaks 8 languages) and a working class Italian American driver who both make a journey and build a friendship between New York and the Southern states of American to play concerts over a 2 month period.

I highly recommend this movie as one that discusses race relations and homophobia in the US during 1962 around the time with Martain Luther King had started his support of openly protesting against prejudice, racism and the many challenges that African Americans experienced at the time.

The actual name of the movie is named after a 'Green Book' that was compiled by an African American post office worker, years earlier, who was aware of the dangers where apartheid-like laws operated in many of the Southern States.

It also assisted many black travellers by giving names in the book and the locations where black travellers could stay for the night or for a few days at hotels, motels or itinerate places that they would be welcome to stay when travelling for funerals or across state as this could mean the difference between life or death in some states as demonstrated in the movie.

A tremendous performance by both actors: Mahershala Ali, who plays Dr Don Shirley and Viggo Mortensen who plays the Italian American driver with the possibility of winning an Emmy in the upcoming awards...

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Best Oka (raw rish in coconut cream) in Vaigaga...

Best fresh 'oka' in Vaigaga 
 One of the best places in Samoa to pick up Oka (raw fish in coconut cream) is in one of my Aunty's village of Vaigaga. You have a choice of many fresh fish to purchase daily or you can buy a cup of delicious spiced oka worth SAT$6 with or without bones.

So everytime we pass close by we, when we get a chance, we buy some oka in which you can taste the lime/lemon, cucumbers and hot pepper to either consume on their picnic tables with a SAT$1 boiled green banana, or we take it home to place in the fridge to eat with the next family meal.

You gotta believe that it doesn't last long in our family ie. it doesn't last to the next day and then we're craving for more. So no fancy restaurants for us (except we we're out visiting on a special occasion) as when we go to Samoa it's just at the local markets to support our local families or the local supermarket.

So if ever you're in Samoa and you're wanting to check out some fresh oka, don't go past the village of Vaigaga which is only a 5 - 10 minute drive (depending on traffic conditions) as it's sure to whet your 'oka' wanting appetite...

Saturday, 2 February 2019

In memory of the devasting 1918 Influenza epidemic...

Mass graves at Vaimoso from the 1918 Influenza Epidemic and commemoration stone
 Last week I was able to take my family to Vaimoso in Samoa to view the commemoration stone erected by the NZ government some years ago and the lines of concrete depicting the mass graves of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.

It is understood that within villages, some were able to bury their dead on their own lands but so many Samoan were effected at the time that the epidemic was at its peak, that the NZ Garrison got involved in burying the dead who lived close by to Vaimoso in a bid to contain the epidemic spreading further.

It's part of the indigenous research that I'm doing for our next book soon to be released in commemoration of now over 100 years since the fatal influenza epidemic reached Samoa's shores back in the year 1918.

The research for this book has been a couple of years in the making in wanting to get the story right and also in trying to understand the circumstances that lead up to what happened and the aftermath which is still being felt today.

I know that the effects of this devastating event still affect some of the families that I am connected to in not knowing or having gaps of knowledge in their genealogy because significant family members who held that knowledge died during the epidemic and those family connections and stories were not passed on.

I must say that even for many Samoans, this part of their history is unknown to them and I most recently found out where the mass graves were located because this part of our history has not been taught well inside and outside of Samoa and for me, our books are a part of encouraging the education of our children to know about their history that informs their past, present and future...

Thursday, 31 January 2019

'Return to Paradise!'... Samoa e...

Looking out at the lush beauty of 'Return to Paradise' Resort from the welcoming reception area
 Just back from a quick trip with the family to Samoa i.e. Returning to Paradise and had an absolute great time visiting family, some indigenous research on three books that I'm currently working on and celebrating our middle child's birthday at my Aunt and Uncle's (and co.) 'Return to Paradise' Resort in Lefaga.

It was the dream of my Aunt and Uncle's family, with the help of my maternal Grandmother, to develop this dream resort which many are now able to enjoy, not only as patrons but also as it brings income through employment and leasing to local villages when in days of old were seen as being quite remote in their locations but are now thriving.

It's also a part of the story in a book that I am working together with family to collate in my grandmother's biography and many adventures that she took part in even as late as in her eighties. She was still up for an adventure and we hope to share that pioneering spirit that she had which influenced us growing up will be shared in a book with our next generations, especially those who never got to meet her.

In fact, a very big CONGRATULATIONS! to the 'Return to Paradise' Resort team for winning the Samoa 2018 Excellence in Tourism trophy recently which is an amazing feat as you just have to check out the other contending resorts in Samoa to see the competition that they were up against.

And a big thanks for making our birthday special with such tasty cuisine, yes, a little unimaginative as we kiwi's all ordered the fish and chips; the yummy smoothies with my favourite being the Pineapple Hula drink and an amazing birthday cake with frosting that melted in your mouth.

So I would most definitely highly recommend the 'Return to Paradise' Resort as the go to resort for those special occasions of birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, vow renewals, or just to relax complete with several pools (3 for children) that we really enjoyed, a beach that you just have to keep an eye out on wave action etc. a wedding chapel and beautiful grounds to just walk through. They even had a crab race that was fun to watch as well.

We're looking forward to our next Ah Siu Family reunion being booked at the resort in January of 2021, with some already booking well ahead to avoid being disappointed in missing out (that's a reminder to me too). It'll be a place that that we can relax and enjoy together and still be able to special make memories that will last a life time...

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Summer evening strolls with the family...

 Now that summer has truly set in, we have started taking summer evening strolls as a family and it's a good time to get out of the house and enjoy each other's company whilst discussing things that come to mind in a relaxing atmosphere whilst out in nature.

It also benefits the body in taking in fresh air and having that 30 minutes a day exercise that we're all encouraged to enjoy family and what better way to than working out together as a family and making memories whilst we're at it.

I must say that I can't take the credit for it as it's my beloved's forte in getting us out in the evenings to be active when I'd rather be relaxing on the laptop but when I do force myself to put on my runnings shoes and comfortable clothing, then it's all worth it.

This weekend we took time to walk around the Panmure Basin which takes less than an hour with so many workout stations and people doing the same thing that it feels like camaraderie of sorts with some walking, biking, running, skateboarding etc.

So if you're children or partner/spouse ever get bored at home and need something to do then I would encourage a bike, walk, stroll around a local park, the street or block etc. to get that adrenaline up, especially if you add a couple of hills in there and you never know, you just might enjoy it like I'm doing....

Friday, 18 January 2019

Beware $ counting machines don't always get it right...

This week I came across an interesting situation whereby I went to the bank to withdraw some money to send overseas.

The bank gave me my requested amount in $50 notes which was weighed on the bank's money counter and I was able to see the amounts that I had requested on the money machine counter.

As I was busy to go back to work I didn't ask for the money to be manually counted (my mistake!) and took the counters word for it.

I asked that all the dollars be placed in the bank's plastic money bags and sealed it so that there wouldn't be any lost between the two venues that I would be travelling from/to.

However, when I went to another bank, some 15 minutes later to exchange the dollars to another currency, the other teller opened the sealed money bag, started counting the dollars and we both saw a $10 note slip out amongst the other $50 notes.

I was surprised and instantly thought that it was a mistake of either $10 over or the note replaced a $50 note, it was the latter. I decided that it would be difficult to prove otherwise, continued with the transaction as I had a busy schedule ahead and decided to write it off as a stern warning to always check it manually next time.

A few hours later, I discussed the situation with another bank teller and her considered opinion was that the bank in question would show a $40 deficit at the day's end. I decided to go back to the former bank, discussed it with the teller of whom I had withdrawn the monies. She assured me that she would get back to me at the end of the day after balancing their tills.

The teller did get back to me, later in the evening, and explained that there was no shortfall of $40. I then decided that I would go to the bank the next morning to investigate further and when I returned the next day I was told that when checking the weight on that particular machine between a $10 and $50, that they were the same and she promptly gave me $40 in return.

Just a stern warning and reminder, to myself, to not always take the word of a money counter against what you can see with your own eyes, otherwise it's your word against theirs...