Thursday, 31 December 2015

Looking forward to the new year 2016...

Image result for goodbye 2015 Great to be spending time with family from overseas as it's been a real blessing with a BBQ prep organised for this evening, a family swimming pool event and welcoming the New Year with a church service and a dessert for our family get together.

Yesterday, we (almost) finished my lil' sister's bedroom reno with the wallpapering and it's looking really good and ready for her first year degree studies and in anticipation of her upcoming birthday next month. My brother now wants to take on our parents hallway with a new paint job replacing the old wallpaper and they did an all-nighter last night to get it done. You go bro! :)

It's been great to take a break from the books but am already anticipating our first launch which will be either late Jan or most probably early February with my first poetry collection of earlier poems I've written and some more current offerings.

I thank God for a great year in 2015 and so 2016, here we come...

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Counting down last days of 2015...

Image result for goodbye 2015 2015 has been a great year for our family and have been busy painting up ceiling, door etc. in my lil' sis' bedroom for an update and reno for the new year where she'll be starting her degree studies in Social work.

Which takes me back to our visit to Hawaii where it was quite funny to see, in Waikiki shops, quite a bit of winter gear - I guess for those who would be returning to the 'mainland' US as they call it but also the main department stores at Ala Moana shopping centre in Oahu, with winter woollies whereas both in Hawaii and NZ we share warmer weather so house reno's and gardening are tasks often taken over summer.

Also beginning to hit the swimming pool and beaches as the warmer weather drives us out of our houses and into nature. Looking forward to New Year celebrations and neat to have my brother and his family visiting from Melbourne before both they and my parents fly back to their respective abodes.

Have had a neat year in 2015, roll on 2016...

Monday, 28 December 2015

Highlights of 2015...

Sunning on Waikiki Beach, Oahu - Hawaii.
So many highlights for 2015 and so much to be thankful for:

1. Travelling with my children has definitely been a highlight in being able to see different countries/Islands and observing the similarities and differences in societies. A better fieldtrip experience in Sydney, Australia; Samoa and Savai'i; and Oahu, Hawaii.

2. Self-Publishing 5 books: 2 performance plays and 3 Bilingual picture books has been a real dream come true for me with many more titles to come and currently working on a poetry collection to launch in the new year as well as to continue publishing more plays and bilingual picture books.

3. Keeping in touch with family in Samoa and abroad and keeping the faith strong. This has been an amazing year for our family and looking forward to what 2016 brings...

Saturday, 26 December 2015

NZ Boxing day 26 Dec...

Image result for boxing day imagesHave had a nice quiet Boxing Day with warmer weather and time with family as well as not having to cook with so much food shared from different places.

Over time, I've noticed that Boxing Day in NZ is mainly about the big chain stores advertising their Big Boxing day sales and is very different from the original meaning of boxing day as being a time when boxes were given to staff to pass onto their families.

Today, I also visited the local markets and noticed that not many stalls were available as usual as well as the usual busyness of trying to find a carpark was gone with so many parks available. This was possibly due to people taking time off for the holiday season.

Just loving these summer holidays with family...

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Xmas to all this festive season...

Image result for animated merry christmas images Wishing you all a very happy Christmas with your families and loved ones as am enjoying time with my parents from Samoa, our children and now 2 newly adopted older ones too and brother and his family visiting from Melbourne.

It's been pretty good starting with a Christmas Eve service at our local church together with little lanterns and reminding us of the real reason for the season in the birth of Christ and singing Christmas carols. Then started the day cooking with a ham, salads, curry, trifle, pavlova etc.

And now relaxing with family in enjoying the day together after opening Christmas presents and catching up with loved ones. In the next blogs will be reflecting on the year so far and feeling very blessed in so much that's happened and looking forward to what 2016 holds...

Saturday, 19 December 2015

University of Hawaii, in Oahu...

Image result for university of hawaii images Went to visit the University of Hawaii in Oahu and very interesting to meet with a native Hawaiian teacher there who talked about the different things that they have experienced as Indigenous peoples.

It was also neat to be able to gift two books to their campus libraries of: "Tagaloalagi" (performance play) and "Tagaloalagi and Fue" (Samoan bilingual picture book) to add to their Pacific collection of books.

It was also interesting to visit the campus and to see how huge the campus is with the different amenities especially in seeing the large football fields, stadium and games area. I think a campus I would have liked to have attended if given the opportunity in as an undergrad.

But also looking forward to returning to NZ to relax after Waikiki and the whirlwind trip we've had. So much to see and do and to also look forward to hopefully coming back again with the rest of the family...

Friday, 18 December 2015

Hawaiian historical palace tour...

Yesterday we went on the Iolani palace tour which was interesting as it told of the political history of Hawaii and as I had already watched a movie about it, the tour brought everything to life. One thing I did learn was that the locals encourage people to buy local businesses as Hawaii is definitely a mecca for 'mainland' (US) travellers.

I also saw a Kukuli tree that President Roosevelt planted back in 1934 on the palace grounds. There was definitely a lot to see but it felt sad that they had lost so much and I wondered where the royal family is today.

This week also there are heightened expectations for the visit of President Obama and his family with their entourage. Have learnt a lot while we've been here that Hawaii has gone through so much and can still see a lot of building developments on the East coast side of Waikiki.

So much to do and so little time ...

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Visit to Pearl harbour memorial, Arizona memorial...

Got to visit the Pearl harbour memorial and also the Arizona memorial. So much to take in and to learn re: USA's entry into World war 2 and especially that it was the worst for human casualities on US soil with over 2,000 killed and over 1000 wounded on 7 Dec 1941.

So much sadness and also to think that it all ended with Hiroshima was even more frightening. All brought to life through the exhibits and the tours especially as had read about it in High school and even studied a couple of US history papers at Uni.

So much to see and do here and also looking forward to visiting PCC Pacific Cultural centre too. Yahoo...

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Visiting Waikiki ...

Have been so busy since arriving into Hawaii, Oahu Island. Yesterday we were welcomed by the children at Wai'alae Elementary Public Charter school which was the first charter school in Hawaii and met with the Principal/Chairperson and some teachers there with free time to visit around the island.

We then went shopping at my favourite Ala Moana Boulevard shopping centre to pick up a couple of things for my lil' one. So interesting that it hasn't changed but definitely a lot bigger than I remembered. In fact, since last visiting Honolulu in the late 1990s it has really developed and more built up.

I also am remembered about how everything here is on a bigger scale as compared with NZ. With big scale cars, utes, buses, trucks etc. even the burgers are bigger, Waikiki is massive for its many hotels and eateries and an ABC store on every corner. Then went swimming at Waikiki beach during sunset - wow! simply amazing.

As for my older ones, I think it was a real eye opener in how USA/Hawaii is as compared to other island nations that we've visited such as Fiji, Samoa, Savaii - just on a whole different scale and helps to appreciate what we do have in NZ...

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Rainbow's End theme park and then Waikiki ...

 This week has been so busy with end of year functions including prize givings, completing end of year assignments, and going to a theme park with my girls at the local theme park "Rainbow's End" with it's 'Kidz Kingdom'. It was so good to be able to relax and watch my littlest enjoy herself on all the rides.

Although, I still think that Disneyland (Anaheim) in California, the original, still reigns supreme for me but Brisbane, Australia's "Worlds" are pretty good too with their "Dream World", "Sea World" and "Movie World" etc.

Now, with only 24 hours will be on our way with my older two to Waikiki, Hawaii on a school trip but also to see what opportunities and things we can learn along the way. I think it's really important for our young to see what's out there in different societies especially where indigenous cultures are...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Weetbix Tryathlon 2015 at Mountfort Park...

  Congratulations to our middle child for completing the Weetbix Tryathlon although still not feeling 100% after contracting a bug from our trip to Samoa (perhaps Savaii we suspect?) especially since our eldest (and most competitive) was unable to attend as she's now struck down by that same bug, in fact we all were to some varying degree (except for our little runner - the youngest).

The Tryathlon track consisted of:

  1. Swim of 100 metres which she likes
  2. Cycle of 4 kilometres which she enjoys
  3. Run (or walk) 1.5 kilometres which she completed
And at the end of the race she received a medal, an apple and a frozen smoothie (on a stick) with a free weetbix breakfast, complimentary lunch from the school and lots and lots of encourage, high fives and a general sense of achievement.

So happy for her and the many students who competed with their neat Tshirts. In fact, this year, the tournament registrations were closed earlier as it was over subscribed and so glad that both schools were able to put in their registrations early.

Many thanks to the crew of volunteers and corporate sponsors who made this happen. I can only see it growing and growing and needing more venues to operate throughout the year as it is beginning to really pick up in popularity but also in a sense of community both for the school and those who compete.

A high recommended activity for all the family, especially to those who compete but also for those who wish they could but can't anymore (ha ha)...

Monday, 7 December 2015

Watching "Mockingjay part 2" at St Lukes ...

It's interesting when a book comes out into a movie how different it is to what was pictured in the minds eye. Because of my eldest's interest in the books/movies, I got to read through the triology and also view (in my mind's eye) the book at the beginning of the year and then was able to watch the last part of the franchised movie on big screen with my eldest and younger sister.

It was especially interesting because in my flurry of internet booking the movie I mistakenly didn't check the movie theatre thinking that it was our usual closest movie theatre which happens to be Manukau but when I checked the ticket it was actually at St Lukes which is about the same distance/time by motorway but I totally different clientele.

So a more younger palagi audience with people sitting all over when the seats were prebooked so it was interesting to see that sometimes people would move rather than confront those sitting in their prepaid seats. I wouldn't have minded making a scene but others quite happily  moved. And even had to tell one to take her feet off my eldest's chair top before she sat down as that was where we were going to sit. She knew I was going to make a scene so she removed her feet.

The movie itself was good in that it followed the book closely and although I already knew the ending and various parts of the book, it still didn't fail to comply and I felt satisfied upon walking out of the movie that it had played out well. Now to wait until another interesting book/movie finds it's way onto my bookshelf...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Static display at Mangere Arts centre and encouraging the next generation ...

Thanks Alyce for the pic at Mangere Arts Centre 5 Dec 2015

Yesterday I had the privilege of having a static display of my 5 newly released books at the Mangere Arts Centre thanks to Anna the arts exhibitions manager. It was also neat in that it was Andy Leleisiuao's exhibition opening and to meet with his family and friends some of whom I'd known for many years from PIC Mangere and in the arts circles of whom had come to support his opening.

It also gave me a chance to meet with some old friends and acquaintances and to share the new pathway in my arts journey. I feel like I've come full circle and am realising the dream that I had wanted to pursue in high school in wanting to work in an art space but even better now to write books combine my love for art and share that dream with many others.

It was also a privilege to meet with a young man who also has a dream and I hope that in my work, I can continue to support and encourage many young and talented Pasifika individuals to pursue those dreams and to take the path towards making those dreams a reality. I shared with him that our life's journey informs our stories (both the positive and the negative) and that no one else can tell those stories except who the gift has been given to.

I've personally learnt that although it almost didn't seem that it would ever happen that in actual case it was in God's perfect timing to happen in 2015 because now I feel there's a definite richness, a certain depth and textures to what I have to share than 5 or even 10 years ago with my first poetry collection being launched early next year. 

To God be the praise and the glory...

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Gifting books to Nelson Memorial library in Samoa...

One of the privileges I had was to be able to gift two of my books "Tagaloalagi and Fue" (picture book) as well as "Tagaloalagi" (performance play) to the Nelson Memorial Library in Apia, Samoa as this had been my base for my studies back when I was doing my first Masters fieldwork in the late 1980s.

The picture taken here is with one of the local librarians and it brought back memories as to the times I would spend writing up my research in the air conditioned room with it's dark heavy wooden furniture.

It's a lot more modernized now with extensions to having an upstairs research room with American resources and a downstairs room dedicated to children's books and resources. But as a former teacher librarian/manager I couldn't help noticing that there were a lot of dated books but that might also be because of the heat that ages the books faster.

I also recall in the early 1970s when I first visited Samoa with my family in Savaii that we stayed at a local minister's house and I found an original hard covered book in the book shelf called "Little house in the big woods" by Laura Ingalls. What that was doing on the shelf I will never know but I read it and brought it back to Auckland with me.

I hope, as a writer/author, that I can also inspire some young people not only to appreciate books but to also learn from them and one of the best places to find them are in the libraries...

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

"Tagaloalagi & Fue" book launch in Apia...

It was such a blessing to have our 5th book launch for "Tagaloalagi and Fue" last week at a family restaurant in Apia, Samoa with my parents and some friends and family.

It also happened to coincide with my birthday (a last minute plan) as we tried to fit in so many things in one week.

The story itself was one that my father told me in the 1980s that he had been told as a young boy. It reminded me of the fact that there are no migration myths for Samoa and that Samoa people were believed to have originated from Samoa unlike other nations.

This definitely was one of the most productive trips to Samoa in learning so much but also in making contact with different people. Am looking forward to more writing and painting happening during the holidays as a result with Hawaii only a couple of weeks away.

One unforgettable trip...

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Jonah Lomu memorial...

Image result for jonah lomu memorial It's been interesting to go to Samoa and then return to find that yesterday the International Rugby fraternity were still mourning the loss of the first International 'star' of Rugby at Eden Park yesterday.

I'm not a huge fan of Rugby but my husband and dad are so I had to ask Fritz about why Jonah left such a lasting impression on so many overseas as he's a bit of an anomaly here (unknown?) and he explained that he turned the face of Rugby to making it a professional sport because of how great he was. He also explained that Lomu caught the interest of big multinational companies into sponsoring Rugby which used to be an amateur type sport in the 1980s.

Interestingly enough, he had humble beginnings in Mangere (my local hometown) having migrated from Tonga with his family (as far as I am aware) and then went to local schools of Favona Rd Primary whose students performed at Eden Park. He went to Arahanga Intermediate which is now a Maori Kura (school) and then went to high school at Wesley College (Methodists) who also performed at Eden Park.

It's sad when anyone dies earlier than anticipated, leaving behind a partner/spouse and young children but he also left a legacy which I hope many young people will remember in striving hard to do what you're good at and giving it your best. That is what I will remember him for...

Monday, 30 November 2015

Overnight at Le Rosalote Guest Fale in Savaii, Samoa...

Fritz with Le Rosalote co-owner - highly recommended!
Whilst we were in Samoa, my husband (Tofilau Fritz) and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary and we decided to travel to Savai'i on our special day with our children to research material on our next book but to also have some R&R.
After quick whirlwind trip we decided to look into a beach fale close to the Wharf in order to catch the ferry back the next morning and that's where we met with the co-owner of Le Rosalote Guest Fale only 15 mins away from the Wharf.
She was so amazing as she gave great accommodation discount for our family and provided a meal with our limited budget, towels, soap and toothpaste (although we had our own but wet). The hostess was also neat in supporting with adding an extra bed for our family of 5 at no extra cost when I was quite happy to share with our littlest.
The room was lovely with a neat view of the ocean outside our fale and we were able to sleep easily after a long day's drive around the island (more of the sites we visited in following blogs) and also will be reviewing on the 'trip advisor' website too.
The hospitality at "Le Rosalote" was second to none and they went above and beyond to accommodate for our needs. I would definitely recommend them to any and all as the next day I woke up (on my birthday) to the sound of water lapping beneath me (as the fale are built half on land and the other half on top of the water) and an amazing sunrise greeting me as I lay on the bed.
But even more amazing was that Fritz forgot his wallet behind and when we caught the Ferry (Lady Samoa III) I wondered why they called his full name out and that was because one of the staff had dropped off his wallet to the Ferry staff and they were able to connect the wallet with it's owner.
Simply amazing...

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Last day in Samoa...

Image result for samoa sunset This has been one amazing trip to Samoa. Feels like we've been here for ages but have packed in so much in such a short time and will be flying back home tonight. I'll be blogging about our trip over the next few days of places we were at and things we saw.

It's been great to see my parents again but also to meet again with Fritz (husband's) mum and family. The hospitality's been great! We also got to go to Savai'i for some R&R but also to do some research on the next book's to be launched next year.

There's also the opportunity for an amazing relationship with one of the biggest booksellers here for the books so will be keeping this in prayer and it's been neat to feel again about what being in Samoa is all about.

Our children have loved it but are also missing some of the comforts of home but it helps for them to see about not taking for granted in what they do have in Auckland.

So "tofa soifua" to the beloved homeland/motherland. We hope to see you again in the not too distant future, Lord willing and looking forward to what the future holds...

Monday, 23 November 2015

Talofa lava Samoa - Hello Savaii...

Image result for savaii Loving it is Samoa with my family. Went to church at Fasitoo and neat to share in the faith in a huge church with chandeliers, beautiful stained glass windows - Samoan styled and also enjoyed watching the words on powerpoint. Samoa is certainly up with things digital, even in the village.

Had a neat Sunday lunch yesterday with my parent and Fritz' family at my parents place by the beach and then duly jumped into for a nice Sunday swim - something I probably wouldn't have been allowed to do when I was much younger (ha ha).

Tomorrow we're getting ready for going to Savaii for some R&R but also a little research on my next picture book of "Tulaga vae o Moso" or Moso's footprints. Have already written the book but just needed to check out a couple of details.

So neat to be in Samoa and catching up on everything that's going on. With my birthday and the book launch just a couple of days away - I think will just be taking it easy and enjoying being away from the hustle and bustle of western life and just relaxing back. Samoan styles i.e. faifai lemu...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Samoan book launch of "Tagaloalagi and Fue" (3rd) picture book series...

Tagaloalagi and Fue Retold and Illustrated by Helen Tau'au Filisi Am so excited to be revealing our next (3rd) bilingual (English/Samoan) picture book cover of "Tagaloalagi and Fue" in the 'origins/creation' series of the tala o le vavau (ancient Samoan stories) to be launched in Samoa next week.

This was a story that my father shared with me many years ago back in the late 1980s. He was told this story when he was very young about Tagaloalagi (the supreme god) and Fue (his assistant.) It also discusses the ancient beliefs of how people were created, before Christianity, and for me, in studying Geography at the time, it showed how people in those times related the environment around them to the creation myths of old.

So this Saturday am travelling with my family to Samoa to visit my parents and families, read books at local schools then having a family birthday celebration next Wednesday the 25th Nov and later securing a venue to launch the book on the Friday 27th Nov.

The profile of Tagaloalagi was an actual profile of my husband but upon closer inspection looks a little like my mum in colour and eye shape when she was younger. I've also coloured the background of this book in darker shades as those times were often described as the 'pouliuli' or times of darkness so this book will stand out as being a little different from the others in design.

For those wanting to pre-order/order for Xmas you can contact me on: before stocks run out. Otherwise will be trying to get into local libraries and ebooks.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Annie Grace... 12 Dec album release

 Have been looking forward to the release of the latest album from Annie since her last album "Childhood" released in the mid 2000s for which she received the "Best Pacific Female Artist" of the Pacific Music Awards 2006. I used to play her CD whilst I'd do my house work (particularly the fast songs) and then whilst driving around when the children were younger and I'd take the CD with me on different road trips 'down the line' and 'up North' on the various family and work trip all over the motu (Island). It's still on my playlist for book launches, definitely feel good music and neatly inspired.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend her album release concert event, next month, as flying out to Hawaii the following day with last minute packing to do. But wishing her well with her talented husband, Mission, who is a funky maestro on the keyboards as they would make impressive and inspired music with their Christian and Samoan roots with a love of sharing their talent with many.

My girls had the privilege of being a part of their community singing group when they were based in Mangere over a couple of years before they left for Melbourne but then returned upon the death of Annie's grandma, a couple of years ago, and they have stayed ever since with their beautiful daughter Mishana.

Annie's mum, Talosaga Puletiuatoa is a best friend of my own auntie Mafa (my mother's sister), and was one of my favourite aunties growing up as an inspirational woman in her love for others and for God. And it was in my auntie Talosaga's home that I first met my husband to be, Fritz (then) Tofilau (now) back in 2000. This family will always hold a special place in my heart.

All the best Annie, in your giftings and album release and may God bless your songs as they reach out and bless others may the blessings come back to you and your family too ...

Monday, 16 November 2015

When the world turns upside down... R.A.K. on!

My heart and prayers go out to the families affected by the situation in Paris, France and more particularly due to the aggressive and coordinated terrorist attacks we are witnessing.

Much has been written about the fact that this is already terrorism happening around the world in different countries but that because it happened in a more affluent area in the world then the world's media then takes notice.

I find it difficult that people can commit such atrocities in the face of innocent bystanders and victims. This takes war to a whole new level when people choose to be suicide bombers taking anyone else within their vicinity or to storm a building, take hostages and kill innocent bystanders. So different from the ways that I was brought up and the religion that I believe which upholds the sanctity of life and encourages one to look after your neighbour as you would a friend.

It's been said that the most dangerous of all animals is not the parana nor the alligators or sperm whales - it's people who want to dominate over others, who get out of control and then begin to want to control the whole world around them. So today am advocating, like many others, R.A.K. Random acts of kindness - doing something good for someone else just because you can...

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Patsy Fata local Otara artist... thank you!

Featuring today a photo print that was gifted to me by my artist friend Patsy Fata, a very gifted artist whom I've known since I first started teaching in high school. I was a newbie English teacher and she was the resident art teacher. I remember thinking at that time that being an art teacher must be the best teaching job because you'd get to teach what you enjoy and students liked being there in listening to the latest music and creating what they wanted.

Patsy was also the Art, wardrobe and music directors of the 3 high school productions that I wrote for the high school that we both taught at of "Maui and Sina", "Tagaloalagi" and "Su'e the lost son" (the latter play now to be released early next year). In fact, it was pretty much a 2 woman band as we were both single, very passionate about the arts and believed in the students and their potential. And the community rallied behind with sold out performances and lots of positive feedback for the students from their friends and families. I was also told that having original performances like that were unprecedented at the time which was encouraging to know about.

It's now neat to see that the plays have now come full circle with the scripts now dusted off my bookshelf and published for next generations to read, perform or view. I've now have the plays at the University of Auckland library, University of Otago with interest from Waikato University in my books and growing.

And that's the thing that I've learnt from being a teacher of English in that it gave me a good basis from which to study and teach literature by a variety of authors and to share about what I'd learnt and now I can write about what I feel passionate about too and encourage other talented individuals around me to do the same too.

So now looking forward to seeing more of Patsy Fata's works of art out for the public to enjoy and share in. The world is your oyster...

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Samoan Proverbs - pearls of wisdom...

Yesterday I felt honoured when a friend of mine wrote a couple of Samoan alaga upu (proverbs) for me that symbolised the journey that I had been on for the past few years.

"O le umu ua vela" of one who does many things for his/her country and...
"O le sola a Faleata" of one who does not run far but returns.

I also received a painting at the second book launch with a Samoan proverb dedicated to me from my daughters Samoan bilingual pre-school centre teachers and it reads:
"E lele le toloa 'ae ma'au i le vai" which translated into English means that the bird (toloa - gray duck) takes flight but shall always return to its habitat.

For me, as an author/writer, I am honoured that in retelling our Samoan ancient stories of old and adding this content into my plays (with more genre to come) that people can feel cultural pride and an affirmation of being a part of these stories. I remember as a young child in primary school sharing with my mum a love for reading cultural tales from many different countries around the world but there were none published from Samoa.

Now, I have the opportunity to share these stories in schools, at libraries, online, with groups and with individuals and it's been a neat journey so far and hoping to share many, many more stories. It's been a labour of love for a lifetime and now I get the chance to share it with so many with trips forthcoming for Samoa and Honolulu which is such a blessing that I am most grateful to God for to keep living the dream...