Monday, 12 November 2018

Ah Siu Family Reunion - NZ 9-11 Nov 2018...

This weekend we had our first New Zealand Ah Siu (Samoa) Family reunion in Auckland with family coming from Samoa, Australia and American Samoa to join in the festivities.

As far as we are aware, my great, great grandfather travelled from perhaps Shanghai in China on board a ship from America to land in Samoa in the 1800s.

From there he was able to work perhaps as a cook and worked his way in finding opportunities to acquire land, shops and married a Samoan woman of whom he had five children with.

Their eldest child was named Aialaisa and he was my great grandfather who was a ship's captain who died trying to put out a fire on the ship. My late grandmother was his eldest child and my father her eldest child.

This family reunion helped me to put the pieces together of a puzzle that I hadn't really been able to figure out in not having all the pieces until the gafa or family genealogy was shared in which I am now able to make the connections to villages and names that I hadn't understood earlier.

It was also neat to be able to meet new cousins as well as to see my elder brothers party of 16 who came from Sydney for the unveiling of the tombstone for my grandmother which was also on the weekend.

I count my family blessed for having had this time together in honouring those who had passed on, those who are the current elder leaders of our family and also looking at the generations that we currently have with plans afoot for another family reunion in Samoa in 2021.

A real blessing and privilege to be a part of...

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Today marks 100 years since fatal Influenza epidemic hit Samoa...

Today, in Samoa and with Samoans all over the globe, marks 100 years commemoration of a devastating event that would have far-reaching consequences to the history of Samoa.

In 1918, the 'Talune' as pictured beside left New Zealand with passengers who were sick with the influenza virus.

Already in NZ it had begun to take it's toll with up to 9000 people dying by the end of its furvour.

However, in American Samoa not a life was lost because of the caution of the American administrator at the time and the quarantine that was in force that prevented the Talune from docking there.

That was not so for three other Pacific Island nations of: Fiji, Tonga and Samoa that did not escape as the ship headed to each port and left devastation behind in thousands dying within days and weeks of coming into contact with the dreaded disease between November and December of 1918.

In Samoa, it is estimated that around 10,000 people died perhaps a quarter of the population and these are estimates only because no one knows for sure in what happened. My maternal grandfather told my mother stories of what he'd seen as he was only 9 years old at the time and the devastation of seeing loved ones dying and disease decimating village populations.

My grandfather's own father died during that time and was buried in a lone grave in Fale'ula. There now stands a church next to his grave and I hope to write a book that will tell the devastating story for many to learn about and not forget.

In 2002, the then Prime Minister, Helen Clark, apologised on behalf of the NZ government for the NZ administration who had been negligent and were responsible for the thousands who had died. How can an apology cover over the suffering and the loss of so many generations?

I am so thankful that many more are more aware of what happened in Samoa's history 100 years ago, about what I wasn't taught in NZ schools and what I know was the apathy of NZ administrators whose feet this falls squarely at...

Friday, 2 November 2018

'Hibiscus and Ruthless' movie...

I finally got to watch 'Hibiscus and Ruthless' by the makers of 'Three Wise Cousins' last night thanks to my youngest sister who got things rolling as I'd been talking about watching it at the movies but due to my busy schedule, I wasn't able to get there during the premiere etc.

So when I watched it with my own children, I couldn't help laughing at some of the Samoan jokes and nuances that I was aware of and that many other non Samoans might not understand especially the mum's staunch and strict upbringing of her daughter of which I could relate to through my father.

It was also funny because the Uni scenes were set at Auckland University where I spent the better part of five years of my life in the Arts Faculty and the Gym. Most of it's since been upgraded but it still stirred a lot of good memories in studying and the carefree life of being a poor Uni student at the time.

The storyline of the movie started quite funny in parts but by the middle of the movie it turned serious and sort of lost it's funny bone but still reconciled the two generations of the mother and the daughter with their different values and the daughter's pakeha friend who sometimes seemed to take on the Samoan values more than her Samoan friend.

Still, it was an interesting movie that I would recommend for Samoan young woman to watch with their families, especially if they come from traditional ones like the way I was brought up because I know of a lot of young women who rebelled and ended up pregnant or left home early or eloped because they couldn't reconcile their ideas with the traditional ones.

Highly recommended for a laugh at the beginning but then a serious message at the end, much like 'Three Wise Cousins'...

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Happy Birthday 99 years Grenma...

Today would have been the 99th birthday of my Grenma (my special name for my granma as a child) as it's the first year that we won't be celebrating her birthday as a family as she passed away last year soon after her 98th birthday.

Next week we will be celebrating the Ah Siu family reunion, the family from which her paternal grandfather came from, in China, and also the unveiling of the inscription on her tombstone.

She played a large role in my life having been the matriarch of our family for almost all of my life and it still brings to tears know that she has passed on as we shared some close memories over the years and I learnt a lot from her.

Her personality was characterised by fierce determination, independence, faith in God and she was quite the pioneer being one of the first members of our aiga (family) to travel to NZ in the 1950s and from here she helped to sponsor many family members to NZ including my father.

There's a family book that I've started working but that's a work in progress as I look towards family working together on it for launching on the memorial of her 100th birthday which I hope to celebrate with family in Samoa.

So that even though she has passed on to a better place, her memory and legacy live on in her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren etc. No doubt in the following weekend, we'll be sharing some stories about Grandma and the hard case that she was at times and also the softer moments.

She is definitely a role model for me in being stoic in what she believed in and there have been times when things have gotten pretty tough that I've thought about what my grandmother would have done and that reminds me to be courageous, to take heart and to not let anyone push their agenda around especially when I know that it's not the right thing to do. My grandmother was one tough lady, as pioneers had to be back in the day, but she also had a heart for people with her generousity.

So this Halloween day when children are running around 'trick or treating' I'll spend some time reflecting on the special times we spent together with her as a family, we'll visit her tombstone this evening and remind my children to consider some of the important things that she taught us in looking forward to the family reunion that she made us a part of and I thank God for her...

Monday, 29 October 2018

SPOTLIGHT on: Michel Mulipola artist extraordinaire...

This weekend has been full on and it got me thinking that each month, in this blog, I'll like to feature some of the amazing things that are happening for our Pasifika people out there.

This weekend I had the privilege of speaking at and participating in the inaugural 'South Auckland writers Festival' which was held during the weekend at the Mangere East village community halls and although the numbers were small (I've been accustomed to in our community with various events) I really enjoyed listening to the experiences and perspectives of different writers and artists.

One of those artists was Michel Mulipola (please excuse the spelling mistake on the pic as it was sent to me by someone else at the talk) and what was fascinating about him was that he shared about being an international artist (comic drawings), a professional wrestler and an International gamer who had made it recently to Las Vegas to represent NZ! So that not only was he good at drawing, which had been his dream in school but also in two other arena as well.

He represents himself as a Samoan artist brought up in Mangere and it was neat to listen to his down to earth, and funny, humble way of describing some pretty amazing artwork that he's done - which is an accomplishment for a self taught artist (as he describes himself).

For example: he's designed book covers for school Journals, illustrated David Riley's Pasifika heroes books, illustrated for school journals, and now currently drawing for various comic books in USA and particularly for Professional Wrestling comic books. As well as that he also defends his title in the NZ pro wrestling arena and teaches professional wrestling to trainees. He is also a gamer in his spare time having travelled to USA on several occasions for various tournaments and came second in an International competition this month.

He's definitely a speaker that I would highly recommend for our young people to listen to and to learn from about how you can make a dream happen by just taking that first step of giving it a go. He also was very humble in not taking himself too serious in just enjoying what he is doing at the moment and was very encouraging in that his office is in his backpack which he takes everywhere with him so that people can consider different ways of working and not having to sit behind a desk or stay within four walls.

He is definitely a Samoan artist, professional wrestler, ardent gamer who is living the dream...

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Whakatane...

Masters and Doctoral Theses at Awanuiarangi
Yesterday I arrived in Whakatane with our youngest to refine my PhD topic. Te campus of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi is a beautiful campus located right in the town with lots of eateries around and much to see and do.

However, because I'm not here on a sightseeing tourist visit, I've purposed to get much of my thinking and clarifying done which has been neat for me.

Yesterday, I also got to have a look at the library theses that have been submitted in the various Masters and Doctoral programmes over the years. It was also good to see a couple of Samoan Masters theses from the Apulu family who have been associated with Te Wananga o Aotearoa for many years and a Cook Islands thesis (although I might have missed a few). It has been good to see Pasifika people engaging with indigenous ideas in the academic landscape because come from a navigating spirit which has lain dormant and been lost for but is now reviving.

It's also been neat to see some of my colleagues from Te Wananga o Aotearoa and people whom I've met in my life's journey studying here for their Masters or Doctoral studies. This week many people have converged on the campus for PhD and Masters engagement with international speakers, catching up with the supervisors and writing, writing, writing.

For me now, it's about finishing what I started and going on a journey that hopefully will bring back much for our next generations...

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Tonga's 'Sea of Red' the real winners...

If you don't know what the 'Sea of Red' refers to then you probably aren't aware of Tonga's efforts to support their Rugby League team with the slogan 'Mate Ma'a Tonga' (die hard Tongan) to the international stage which has done wonders for Tongan morale and community spirit as the rest of us New Zealanders and the rest of the world watches on.

I must say that as a SamoaNZ, I look on with surprise, support and am pleased at how Tonga is representing on the world stage with their fervour, passion and red and white flags that have been seen blowing about on cars, house, fences and hands etc. especially in South Auckland.

You only had to drive around the suburbs of South Auckland to see houses decked out in red and white with cars decorated with red and white flags, tapa cloth and many wearing supporters red shirts, face painting, hair etc. to see that this was a real important event for many a Tongan with their high interest in sports and supporting their team which has a history all of its own i.e. in that high paying Tongan sporting heroes giving up high pay checks in Australia Rugby League to play for their country.

It was also amazing to watch the Rugby match live on TV last night with Australia vs Tonga. It was expected that Australia would win but in watching how the audience were almost all dressed in red and white with the lone Australian flag spotted, and singing their lungs out, the Tongans were the real winners.

The atmosphere seemed electric and English fans thought that they could sing their hearts out at their rugby/football matches but the Tongan songs that I think were meant to inspire the team was out of this world. Some, I overheard in one Tongan Rugby fans conversation with another, had even flown in from Tonga especially for match!

Tonga definitely made it proud and there were many winners in their efforts i.e. the companies who sold Tongan flags did very well, as did the sold out stadium, the Tongan Rugby league companies' paraphenalia, the airlines who sold extra plane tickets for the game and those who call themselves Tongan. Definitely team supporters to watch out for in the future...