Sunday, 29 March 2015

Still celebrating...

My work colleagues sharing a celebratory morning tea
A neat celebratory gift from my
work colleagues
It's been a blessing to share my writing journey with my work colleagues. I've been working at Te Wananga o Aotearoa for 5 years now, most recently as a degree learning advisor and I work with a pretty amazing team.

They surprised me on Friday with a celebratory morning tea and gave me a neat gift of potted African violets, chocolates (yum) and a beauty gift. (I guess they must mean that I might need it for public appearances? ha ha). 

And I am most grateful as I work with a bunch of hard working people who give a lot to the students. Thanks team - you rock! In fact we have multicultural team mates of Maori, Samoans, Niuean, South African, Korean, European, Chinese and Fijian Indian and we all get along and support one another. My thanks to this wonderful team. 

I never thought when I began my work in education that I would ever be working at an indigenous tertiary organisation but I see that it was meant to be. In 1998 when I visited Vancouver, Canada I visited with some First Nations PhD students at the University of British Columbia. I was most impressed and made me think about what we didn't have at that time in NZ.

Much has happened since then with many Wananga (Maori tertiary learning organisations) now set up to delivery Certificate, Diploma, degrees to PhD status and it makes sense in positioning myself within an indigenous tertiary institution to begin sharing my stories. Feeling blessed...

Friday, 27 March 2015

Promoting "Sina and the Tuna"...

Coffee Table book
It's been an amazing experience so far in the comments that I've received about the book. As an Indie/self publisher, I decided to have a limited edition first printing to see how it went. It looks as if it's about to be sold out without even having to promote it.

I think it has to do with the wonderful people who have seen and read the book and can see the dream that I had many years about the importance of such stories to pass on to our next generations.

Another interesting phenomenon that I have come across was in talking to a NZ born Samoan young woman and she spoke about how it was the first time that she had heard about the story in reading it to her children. Wow! that blew me away as I took it for granted that most of us (in our 20s+) knew about this story.
Sina with "Sina and the Tuna"

Cuz/sis Lita with "Sina and the Tuna" and my mum
It makes me think about how important these stories are to pass on to our next generations and the urgency of ensuring that they don't miss out as the stories are actually moral tales that speak about a lost time and the values that were apparent for Samoans in those times and perhaps still are.

So yes, it can be a 'coffee table book' (although the printer initially didn't think it could be) and thank you to the ladies pictured above who have promoted the books on their Facebook pages. You rock too! but it is to share these stories without reservation on some of the ideas that are important to us as Samoans whether we were born here, or we visit there, or have never seen a coconut tree. These stories are yours...

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Still more launch pics!

Cover of my first Indie/self published bilingual Samoan picture book

Our Samoan banana celebratory cake - Yum
 These pics were taken by my sis/cuz Lita and am so thankful as was so busy and unable take pics at the launch and thought I'd missed out but very much appreciate my cuz snapping up pics. So grateful.

Have been so blessed too by many who have purchased the book as I wasn't sure how it would be seen although I did have faith that it was a good thing. Something that had God's hand in it.

The English text I wrote towards the end of the year when I was considering publishing my first play and poetry collection but it just didn't seem right.

I also bought the canvas towards the end of the year and during Christmas started painting the borders. I had initially approached another visual artist to do the artwork but found out that there needed to be a separate contract for the illustrator and I didn't have the resources for that so decided to start painting.

By the beginning of the year, I had completed the borders and left it there as I didn't have the confidence to paint scenery. It wasn't until I spoke to Maria at PBT Pacific Business Trust that the bells went off that I should just try.

The cover of the book was the very first painting that I undertook. I knew that I wanted to have a beach scene and a picture of Sina as well as a Samoan faleo'o (traditionally made Samoan small house). After completing it, it gave me confidence to try and illustrate the rest. And I guess I can say that the rest is history.
Our English chocolate mud celebratory cake - Yummy!

I think for me that this celebration was really for me about the breakthrough that I've had in being able to finally publish after many years of thinking about it.

It was also about celebrating with my loved ones especially, who have supported me in blind faith whilst I've continuously talked about it.

Now I can finally say that my goal has been accomplished but it won't stop there as I hope to continue sharing stories and bringing smiles to faces as parents share the story with their children, Grandparents to grandchildren, teaches to classrooms of children in Early childhood education settings, schools etc. etc.

If there's one thing I've learnt from my years in writing, that you never give up and to trust and have faith in a God who knows and cares about our dreams too.

P.S. If you would like to take a pic of yourself reading with your child, please share and will post onto my blog. Thanks in advance :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

More pics from launch

(Left to right) Samoan translator and husband Fritz,
Aunty Talosaga, me and Aunty Lepa
Some of the artwork on display

Still receiving pics from the launch from friends as my phone/camera refused to work on the book launch day at Te Wananga o Aotearoa on 19 March. Thanks Alice for the photos.  Have been really blessed by many well wishes since the day from even those I don't know very well but have heard or have seen the book.

I must say that it's been quite a humbling experience in knowing that this story has been years, decades, centuries  even in the making as I wasn't the first to write about Sina and the Tuna, and I'm sure I won't be the last. It seems fitting that my public writing begins right at the beginning of who I am as a Samoan (although born in NZ) and with an indigenous Samoan story that my parents first told me and that has been passed through the ages.

It's such a blessing as it's been an unreachable goal for so many years with my attention on other things in knowing the difficulties of being published but things have certainly changed in the past few years. It seems as if both my Masters degrees have come full circle with one complementing the other. I still am considering another Masters degree in Education but not with the publishing now started.

I must also give credit to Maria from PBT Pacific Business Trust who was the catalyst for me finishing this project on 23 Jan 2015 when we first met. It was like she 'jump started' me through sharing in conversation, as I'd been 'stuck' for so long on all the obstacles that I've let distract me from completing my writing projects. Now I feel that there are so many more stories to tell. Thank you so much Maria, you have been a God-send to me.
3 flower gifts from my lil' daughter's
Samoan pre-school Manager Lupe
Vaueli and teacher.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Book launch - A dream come true!

A family pic with my parents, cousins, husband and family

Friends and colleagues at the launch
Family and Friends at the launch
Finally caught up with sleep and recovered after the book launch on Thursday night. Wow! an answer to prayer and dream come true. There are so many people to thank as it was so special in having my parents there before they flew out to Samoa this morning. It was such a blessing to have them there as they were very much a part of my book writing history and are so aware of the long journey that I've taken to finally get the first story out in print. They also helped with the catering and my dad the constant organiser helped the day to run smoothly.

I also have to thank my dearest husband Fritz, and more patient half, who took over the vigil of my dream and patiently listened to my wishes and thoughts over the 15 years that we've been together. He was the MC and after taking Toana'i and Tu'u'u's Samoan language classes, it gave him much confidence to lauga (speech making) in Samoan using the chiefly Samoan language. Wow! what a feat accomplished. Love you babe! And our children were amazing with Glorielle on sales, Christelena helping out and Iriyahz our little runner who just loves to run.

And it was also a blessing having my cousin who was newly blessed as Pastor Tuimalu Derick to bless the day and the launching of the book. My sister Maria for helping out with the organising things when I was way too busy. Special love goes out to my two aunties Mafa and Talosaga, who have been a part of my life since I was very young and through whom I met my husband Fritz :) My sis/cousin Lita, (neice) Mariana and (nephew) Caleb who helped at the reception afterwards. It was also neat to have my uncle Afioga Tofaeono to be present too as well as my Aunty Lepa as my grandma Asia could not attend.

Many friends have been a part of my journey i.e. Cecily who has been my prayer partner over the years as we've prayed about my writing and Sita (principal of Rise Up Academy) where my one of my daughters attends. Lupe and Alice, from youngest child's Aoga Faataitai (Samoan pre-school) who gave me 2 beautiful flower bouquets (I just love flowers!) and a beautiful handmade flower bouquet took my breath away. I felt very loved, appreciated and spoiled on the day.

To my PIC Mangere (Pacific Islanders Presbyterian church) who acted as my village growing up, I thank Maria and Palale (Lupe and Alice too) with Tenaia and Dayna. It was a blessing to have some of the students from the middle school that my older child attends come too. 

A big thanks to my friends and colleagues at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Academic advisors Janice and Celia, the latter who became a dear friend that I also shared my dream of writing with. And my colleagues Penny (who most recently became a prayer partner over this dream), and Dean (another writer who shares the dream).

More thanks also to Faye (our manager) who gave me the time and people to set up with Aloma (who makes things happen!) Meree, Mele our resident JP (Justice of the Peace), Lidu our Chinese Maori speaker, Uma who's our Fijian Indian librarian. And other Pasifika work colleagues: Sally, Liz (a manager and ex-student of my 1991 English class) Rosie (church friend at work too) and Justin, my Maori colleague who blew the conch shell to start the proceedings. Much love goes out to all of you.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sneak preview of my first picture book

It's finally happening! My first indie/self published picture book will be launched in the coming week or so. I can't believe it as it's been quite a journey from writing the short story and buying the boxed canvas last year to painting the borders and then finally getting the courage enough to paint the story (people included) which isn't my forte at all.

It's a story from my childhood about Sina (a legendary Samoan mythological figure) that my parents first told me when I was young. The hard part was trying to decide what to paint on each board as I had ideas but didn't know if I was capable of painting them as I've enjoyed just painting pacific iconic patterns over the last few years.

But I finally overcame my fear and last week took the paintings to get printed. Of course waiting to see the proof was a little daunting but it was all worth it when I got to see the near finished product. A few tweaks to still go before okaying the final but on the whole, I love it! (I might even be hooked).

It's funny but on reflection it seems to be the right place to start in with my new self publishing direction. It highlights the two languages that I was brought up in, that I had wanted to have a career in art as a high school teenager (Art director) and had initially wanted to go to Elam, Auckland Uni Fine Arts school but although I'd passed Bursary art (first in the school), I didn't have enough marks to get in (but that's another story).

Now, I'm finally making it happen in a different way and rediscovering again my love for art and story making. The pic above is the front cover of my book and I deliberately had lots of beach scenes (just love the beach!) and fale Samoa (Samoan traditional houses) to depict a long lost age.

And don't forget Samoan language week on 24-30 May 2015. Will have more info on the launch and details of book viewing and/or purchasing in the coming days. So exciting!...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Love Faith Hope series

"Love Faith Hope" series
This may be one of the last acrylics on canvas paintings that I'll be painting in my "Love Faith Hope" series. This has been painted for a friend on her special occasion who has been very encouraging and a prayer partner over my first books since last year. I hope to have an announcement on the details later in the week.

One thing I have learnt over the years is that love is a very powerful force, not that kind of Hollywood love often shown on the screen but deep abiding love that weathers the storms as protective parents have of their children and that spouses have of each other despite life's desperate challenges.

As Easter appears over the horizon, I reflect on the true abiding love of God through sacrificing his son Jesus to provide a bridge for us. It's that faith that continues to keep me going through difficult times in the knowledge that He is the only hope that we have in an imperfect world as we face the onslaught of secularism and religious terrorism .

I am blessed to have a family who share this same faith and hope to pass it on to our children and oncoming generations that we may never meet.

My 40 day Lent fast of no meat is now in it's 8th day and in the lead up to Easter can reflect on how blessed and privileged we can be in our Faith in Him.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

14 Auckland spots

Have you been to all of these top 14 Auckland tourist spots that the tourist buses go to? I've been to all of them but just not all recently. I wonder if there are some other tourists spots that are missing from your list. I guess most pointedly would be our beaches missing but going to Bastion Point would give a bird's eye view of some of theme.

Not to mention the night markets. I went most recently to the Papatoetoe Friday markets which is always bustling and I've been to Saturday nights at Pakuranga Shopping Mall. I still haven't been to the Thursday night Onehunga nite markets but my family has.

The pics above show case a recent visit to the Auckland Museum which had a special feature on the 'wow' wearable art and it was fascinating to view some of the materials that were used from a type of polystyrene to wood and leather.

And I like that some of the tourists spots that were chosen are free for families to attend. I guess the Botanical gardens are too far south but that's another place that I think is quite nice for tourists to visit too.

So how many have you been too?...
  1. Bastion Point
  2. Kelly Tarlton / Sea life Aquarium
  3. Parnell Rose Gardens
  4. Holy Trinity Cathedral / Winter Gardens
  5. Auckland Museum
  6. Parnell Village
  7. Civic Theatre
  8. Sky City and Sky Tower
  9. Ferry Buildings / Quay Street
  10. Voyager Maritime Museum
  11. Eden Gardens
  12. Mount Eden
  13. Auckland Zoo
  14. MOTAT Museum of Transport and Technology
  • Eden Park
  • Winter Garden
  • Westfield Shopping Centre

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Beautiful Hibiscus

Beautiful yellow hibiscus

Lovely fushia pink hibiscus
The hibiscus is one of my favourite tropical flowers and I have been painting these for such a long time that have decided to name my company and my first self published poetry collection (to be launched around mid year - Lord willing) after this beautiful flower. These pics were taken of these newly planted at a local swimming pool. I guess to reflect many of the pacific patrons that frequent the pools.

I remember in Samoa, when we were visiting and I was quite young, girls would often decorate their houses by picking the flower and securing the flower to a thin stick which would then be displayed in bunches in homes. It doesn't have an strong scent as does the rose but they just remind me of my roots in Samoa.

Today is the first official day of Autumn/Fall in New Zealand and already I'm feeling the nippy mornings and the quickly darkening nights. Summer just seems too short of only maybe 2 months with rain dispersed within those months too. Just getting too cold too fast.

But these beautiful flowers remind me that a 3 and a half hour plane ride would take us to sunny Samoa and I would get to see these beautiful flowers in all their brilliance and visit my family too as my parents will soon be leaving for those sunny shores. Am looking forward to painting more hibiscus and will post them too.