Sunday, 28 June 2015

Pasifika arts influence...

One of the biggest blessings that I had growing up was the influence Pasifika arts i.e. through music, dance, fine arts, design etc. as seen through churches, on the streets, in Samoa, in Mangere, in South Auckland etc. that's why I love bright colours in my artwork, Pasifika drum beats in music with the influence of ukelele and guitar rhymths.

I also enjoy Pasifika dance from the Samoan Mauluulu to the Cook Islands drum dance and have encouraged my children in the arts too from learning how to play the ukelele and guitar as well as keyboards as I learnt growing up. Now my eldest has learnt all three as the others are learning as well. This is similar to Fritz (husband) who also plays the guitar, ukelele, drums, bass, electric and keyboard even more proficiently than I (he was in a band including church bands).

So it's quite important for me to pass it onto our next generation with my children also being encouraged in the arts through having a visual diary to draw from a young age to draft and design as well as giving them opportunities to learn dance starting from ballet (to give them exposure to different genre) and now for them to choose from the different dance opportunities available to them.

I'm also currently working on a playlist of songs that I would like to feature at the next book launches that I have with the next launch next month in July of a series of performance plays that I wrote for South Auckland school full play performances in the 1990s. One of the songs that I like is my Nesian Mystik (You tube clip) that reminds me of my teaching days in the 90s.

I'm really excited with these next book launches as they will be at local public libraries open for the public to attend on Fridays and also will be inviting local schools leaders to come to. The artwork on the covers will feature art from some of my family members that fit the brief that I have of bright, original Pasifika art with more news to come...

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Projects and SUPA

Being a working mum keeps me busy in ensuring that the household is running smoothly and that the various needs of my 3 children, husband and family are met as well as meeting my work and writing obligations. I think that's where prayers are important in asking for assistance from a higher power to assist in everyday living and daily decision making.

Last week I assisted my middle child in displaying her school project on a display board. I must say, that I was quite surprised as we've made up digital power point presentations before and she is very able to make up one by herself but she decided that she really wanted to be creative in displaying and work and asked for help and then I assisted her in it.

However, this week when it came to presenting the project orally in front of the senior school, she wasn't as confident and didn't complete her presentation, then I realised that I needed to spend more time with her on prepping for the oral presentation as I had done with the layout of the project.

I guess it assists me to consider, as a mum, about some of the skills that I need to pass on to my children that will assist them in the future. So upon reflection, I realise that I need to assist through to the end rather than leaving it at the oral prepping stage.

I'm also starting to support my elder child in her project work as last year I had started at the beginning of the year to assist and she did very well but this year I let her continue on her own and she hasn't been doing as well so have had to intervene and support.

It's those things that we do daily that can help or hinder or children in giving them educational support at home without telling them answers. It's that coaching position that we take, as parents, we we're cheering on the sidelines when we have given it what we can and then watch them take over the reigns to score that goal or make that touchdown.

This week it was rather important for me to see my children at work, in considering what the future holds for them, as it wasn't that long ago when I faced those very projects that when you take the time to work on them well, each one adds to confidence and facing the future with the realisation that you can do it - and sometimes with a little help from your coach...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

e-books: Here I come!I

Thank you God for another inspirational morning. My lil' one woke me up around 5am this early Sunday morning and she promptly went back to sleep but I couldn't, so I decided to spend some time working on my books and then remembered...

When I had finished painting the illustrations for my first book "Sina and the Tuna" and had decided to look at publishing, I had two options to consider: 1) a physical book or 2) an e-book.

I'd looked at e-books before which would have been a lot more cheaper and possibly easier to start with but because I'm 'old-school' I really wanted to experience holding my first published book in my hands, checking out the overall look and feel of the book to critically analyse my decisions and to make it more accessible to its audience. All of that instead of holding a tablet.

Now that I've fulfilled my first initial goal to publish in print, I know that I made the right decision and am now ready to embark on a new adventure into cyberspace and publishing e-books for a new generation of readers and to also reach a global audience in sharing these important stories and in many more genre.

My eldest in a certain reminder as she used to really enjoyed reading books but then when she was introduced to reading e-books she enjoys the experience even more. To me it's the novelty of using a device rather than carrying around a book and it's portable enough to be taken anywhere without taking much space.

The above pic you can see how I've been playing around with different cover options for the first of my e-books that I am hoping to launch within the month. This is so exciting and will keep you posted...

Friday, 19 June 2015

First Aid training - you never know when you might need it!

Completing my 2 day First Aid training today with my colleagues at work and it gives me that piece of mind that I don't need to panic should something happen that needs to be attended to. First we're told that it's about saving peoples' lives in doing something rather than nothing.

We were also reminded to remember the acronym S.T.O.P. which stands for:
S = Stop and assess the situation
T = Think! What things need to be done
O = Observe what possible dangers/hazards might there be?
P = Protect yourself and those around you.

We also got to learn the rhyme "30 to 2 no matter who!" for C.P.R. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation which involves 30 pushes on the sternum of the chest to 2 breaths to the mouth from babies through to adults. Its just the pressure applied that's different i.e. 2 hand compressions for 8 years to adults; 1 hand compression for 1 - 7 year old children and 2 finger compression for babies from 0 - 1 year.

So glad I've attended this two day training as my last training was over 3 years ago and already some of the details have changed eg. the song that we were asked to remember was "Stayin' Alive" by the BeeGees being the rhythmic beat to which one would be compressing the victim's chest.

I remembered on one occasion how an elder of my birth church when I was in my 20s died in church after preaching a sermon even when we had a doctor on site (one of the congregation members) and ambulance officers came and they tried to keep him alive using C.P.R. and then a defibrillator but he died on the scene. It taught me to always be aware of what can happen at any time. It's high on the training that I always like to keep up with...

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lychee, Litchie, 'dragon's eye' (exotic fruit) yum!

The first time that I've ever seen a lychee or 'dragon's eye' as it's been called was today. I've tasted lychee drinks before at a Vietnamese cafe but didn't know what the fruit looked like until my younger sister directed me to have a taste of one that our work colleague had brought from a Asian shop (she's Indian).

Anyway, it was very interesting to see in that when you peel off the outer brown skin, it looks like a membrane and at the core is a dark stone which gives the appearance of a pupil of an eye.

My South African colleague calls it a 'litchie' and in Niue, my Niuean colleague calls it a 'tava'.Wow! I've learnt a lot over such a small fruit that I've never seen before. Am taking some home to introduce to the children much like pomegranates that I introduced to them that is now imported into New Zealand.

I think I would say that I like all fruit especially mangoes and pawpaw from Samoa or even Brisban, even 'Vi' is Samoa is like a Samoan apple.

The other fruits that I like are pineapples which I can just about eat with anything from drinks to burgers and with meat etc. It's also seasonal fruit that I enjoy with family i.e. citrus or grapes, kiwifruit or watermelons. One can never get sick of/from fruit with so much variety...

Monday, 15 June 2015

Student and Community voices in High schools Reviews...

Today I went to a Board of Trustees and Principals meeting hosted by ERO (Education Review Office) evaluators. Hard to believe that some 5 years ago I had been shortlisted to a second interview to work there but decided to withdraw my application after I found out that 16:30 days one would be on the road evaluating schools up or down the country. At the time we only had 2 children, the job would have been a stepping stone for my career but I felt the strong impression (God factor) that this was not for me even though I had the support of my dearest.

And I have never looked back. I now have the added addition of our lil' one now 4 years old and the benefit of watching over our children at home and close by. I also have moved away from research which I had at one time considered as being an area that I would be interested in moving into and I have no regrets. My thoughts on research are another story but for me writing stories is now a way of life.

What I did find interesting about the meeting was in arriving late, there were principals and Board of Trustees chairpersons present and they looked at me with no one saying a word until I asked if there were any chairs available ('cos I couldn't see any). I was directed into a chair in the middle and sat next to an old battle axe (i.e. we're both Samoan, working on PhD's and have been around education circles in South Auckland for some 25+ years each) and we shook hands and the presentation continued.

Well of course he has to ask questions as no one else ventured to say anything i.e. not wanting to stand out of the crowd. And I thought about what I wanted to comment on as the presentation continued and found my opportunity. I asked about how important the voices of students and the community are to the internal and external evaluations? Then it got really interesting with ERO representatives echoing my thoughts in that they are very important and proceeded to show a graph which would showed that the better performing schools with self review being well implemented showed that they were ones that had much evidence on community and student input into the decisions being made which would relate to student achievement.

I also referred to a point made by another Pasifika Chairperson and what the ERO representative alluded to in that often schools make the assumptions that they already know what parents think (i.e. in parents not often engaging with South Auckland schools when there are parent/teachers meetings etc. I made the reference that often schools predetermine what communities will do and then will continue to do the same things (with parents not being engaged and then blaming it on the community). Hello!

And that was the point that I wanted to make but the interesting part was when another principal later on said that ERO should tell them how to better engage with the community and then the question was fired back to him as to how he should tell ERO how to better engage with the community. And to me that spoke volumes about some of the problems that we have in our education system/society in that often the dominant voices in schools (often principals who don't engage often with the community on a personal level) will predetermine that they know what is best when in fact they don't and the vicious cycle of failure continues.

I didn't walk in wearing a power suit or any false pretense that I am a principal or a Board chairperson (those power relationships of which I have been previously). I walked in as a Vice chair (sitting in for our chair) willing to stir the tide as an educational observer, ex-high school teacher and now tertiary educator in an indigenous education institute, a concerned parent and ex-pupil of South Auckland schools who's cracked the code on personal educational achievement and wanting many more to achieve and I walked out with the knowledge that now all those sitting on the Boards are accountable and have to make the voices of their student and community heard - no excuses!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

It's just a game!

 Yesterday, I went to watch my eldest's soccer club game. She's the only girl in a boys team that she's been with for the last 3 years. I remember starting her off with ballet classes for a couple of years when she was younger which she enjoyed but this game definitely keeps her fit and dedicated to training. She's a defender and loves the training and the game. Her team is coming second in their table and they had been training hard in knowing that they were to play the no. 1 team.

However, yesterday I witnessed adults on both sides getting aggro' as the game was quite fast and heated. In the end, our team lost by one goal but I think that the adults who were yelling at each other really were the ones who'd lost.

I like the poster pictured above that one of my friends posted on her Facebook page that should be put up at matches as a friendly reminder:

1. THESE ARE KIDS - and it's a bad example to them when they see adults yelling at each other from opposite teams.
2. THIS IS A GAME - sometimes and most often than not I've observed that adults spoil the game and often forget that it is not a life and death situation.
3. THE COACHES ARE VOLUNTEERS - and should be respected for taking time out to help the next generation to learn these skills.
4. THE REFEREES ARE HUMAN - and will make mistakes. They are definitely not perfect and if you can do a better job then you should be Ref.
5. THE IS NOT THE WORLD CUP - so don't sweat it! just let the kids have fun and win or lose well.

I find that some dad's take the game real serious and put a lot of pressure on their sons and it saddens me to see when these young men are being put off because some dad is trying to live his dream through his son. But when it's a team effort with the dad encouraging and cheering on the son - I see young men rise to the challenge.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

When you get bored/stressed/depressed/bug eyed... - Just Dance!

My middle child introduced this to me on 'You tube' last year and I loved it but soon got busy with so many other things and forgot all about it. But again, this year, in doing a unit in school on healthy families she reminded me about it, I thought I'd seriously give it a go and have been hooked ever since.

So the scenario goes something like this. I'm one of a team of 5 women at work and have called ourselves "Wonder Women" and we all wear a pedometer to count how many steps we've taken. My personal goal is 10,000 steps per day but often in the office it's way less and when I get home I'm too tired. So this fills the gap.

I've now clocked almost 500,000 steps since we started in March/April and still have a way to go. It certainly makes me think about it as when we were in Sydney, one day of site seeing and walking around along the Waterfront at the Quay, Darling Harbour, I clocked over 30,000 steps.

I'd highly recommend walking for anyone as a neat form of exercise (if you're not into the elite fitness - that I was in my youth) and just to take it easy in both walking with a pedometer or dancing to the 'Just Dance' You tube videos, especially when you don't want to go out on a cold and wet day. Give it go! you never know - you might even like it :) ...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Movie Review: American Sniper

"American Sniper" (2014) Director: Clint Eastwood. I had already read a review on the movie last year and an article about the man of whom the movie was about and thought to watch it but was way too busy. However, on the plane from Sydney, I got to watch the movie and reflected on it's messages.

The movie was interesting in how it portrayed the main character of wanting to become a cowboy and pursued that but that he became a navy seal later in his 30s and how his pinpoint accuracy in shooting as a child out hunting deer with his dad later became a symbol of killing people to survive.

Some of the difficult horrors that he had to face was having to shoot a woman and a child in their hatred of Americans in wanting to kill them with a armed weapon. It's hard to believe that there are societies out there that would promote this.

The horrors of war in the killings of those close to him aided to his mental state in especially going on 4 tours to Iraq when some didn't even survive their first. He definitely was given a gift in his shooting but ironically he killed others to save the lives of his own.

The sad ending also ironically showed how if 'you live by the sword, you die by the sword' with one of his own shooting him. I really felt sorry for his children and family in not only was he a hero for saving the lives of many, he also became a victim of his own post in the war.

I would not only highly recommend this movie for those who are interested in the war genre but it's also a movie that discusses the issues that we face about humanity and how the horrors of war can make one re-evaluate our view those who fight for freedom in risking their own lives for others.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Home sweet Home...

It was so neat to visit Sydney, to explore and take our children to a big metropolitan city and also to meet up with my older brother and loving wife who came over to our hotel with 2 big coolies of food! You're amazing and may God bless you both.

Over the years I've visited with his family and watched them grow to now each having their own families and now with their grandbabies. I feel like I'm a generation behind but something definitely to look forward too.

But it is neat to come back home refreshed and also looking forward to forging ahead with lots of plans and projects. This is definitely not one of those holidays where you feel like you need another holiday to get over it. I definitely am rearing to go to the next level in my writing projects and also in other avenues to explore with a view to meeting more children and young people to share ideas.

Also looking forward to meeting up with my folks who are returning from Melbourne in the next few days. I think if you are able to travel that it assists in allowing you to see how other people live and to observe the different things to be thankful for. I especially remember as a teenager wanting to go to live in America and when I visited there as an 18 year old, I realised that many of the rich lifestyles portrayed on TV is not exactly how many families live. East L.A. opened my eyes to what some people have to face daily.

I am blessed with a Home, with family and somethings to look forward to in the future...

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Sydney market and lots of R and R...

Paddy's market open Wed to Sun in Sydney
So much to do in Sydney and loved going to the markets to have a look and shop with my family. Definitely worth the trip to just have a look around although now only a couple of days before flying back home.

Still a couple of things to tick off our list of things to do but it was good for our children to get the feel of what it's like to live in a big metropolitan city, very different to Auckland with it's Queen Street. Here there are malls with exclusive designer ware with security visible all over the city.

Also makes me very thankful for the ability to be able to bring up a family out of the big city. Still quite normal to not see any indigenous people visibly on the streets, on TV or posters. It's like Australia is still decades behind NZ in establishing a space for Australia's aboriginal people apart from seeing representations of their unique art on Tshirts and tourist prints etc.

It's been around 10 years since I last visited Sydney and there have been a few changes but over all it feels good to have been able to relax and reflect upon things. The first couple of days it was about catching up with sleep but now feel fully relaxed. Thanks Sydney it's been good to get some R and R (refreshing and relaxation)...

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sydney's Centrepoint and 3rd book

Got lunch sorted for Fritz and his girls (birthday celebrations still continuing) at Sydney tower (what I used to remember as Centrepoint) so I can have some 'down time / quiet time' to work on our third book and other projects.

The same thing happened when we were holidaying in Wanaka for a couple of weeks and I got to stay in the hotel and work on finishing my exegesis for my second Masters whilst Fritz took the girls exploring all over Wanaka.

Still got a couple of projects running but great to be away from home to get lots of thinking done but also to get down on my planning that needs to be completed in order for other things to work.

Am also planning on visiting more South Auckland schools for book reading, 'meet the author' and talking with teachers and students etc. I don't claim to be an expert in anything but I do enjoy sharing ideas and learning from those whom I talk or share with. If you know of any schools who would be interested please do pass on my contact details to them through this blog.

Today we also got to have a look around Hyde Park at the War Museum, the Catholic church of St Mary's and now just enjoying taking it easy. So much to do and see here. So blessed to be here but also neat that we had such a good time...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Queen's Birthday Sydney by nite - Vivid light show

Tonight was out with family viewing Sydney by nite - Vivid light show which has buildings, the Sydney opera house lit up as well as light sculptures, and images projected onto building walls. This show is running until early June or maybe even later.

It is so impressive with so many images projected onto buildings and so many artistic sculptures with light as a theme but a beautiful time to be out and about with family.

We took a train into Circular Quay which just so happens to be only 2 stops away from our hotel room and is such a handy location to everything i.e. ferry rides, Chinatown, art galleries, shops etc.

There are also so many people out and about at night with so many eating places i.e. restaurants, takeaways, eateries and never a dull moment and so spoiled for choice.

We also compared prices on some groceries and noticed that cheap bread was 85c, a 3 litre milk was only $3 and cheap shampoo was only $1 which is unthinkable in Auckland. Of course on the other hand there was still designer labels and also got to see Ken Done's gallery who was one of my favourite Aussie designers growing up as I love how he plays with bright colours. There is definitely no time to be bored in Sydney with so much to see and do...

Birthday celebrations in Sydney sight seeing...

 It's been a neat blessing to celebration Fritz's, my beloved's, birthday yesterday in Sydney. We viewed the Sydney Bridge, Opera House, The Rocks markets, the Botanical gardens (where our children went on a train ride around), Darling harbour and so much else still to see.

It's been grey and overcast since we arrived here and got to especially visit with my older brother and his wife who emigrated here back in the 80s. It's the first time for Fritz and our children but I've enjoyed visiting Sydney over the years because there's so much to see and do.

Today we've had beautiful weather in the city and it's also my mum's birthday which she's celebrating in Melbourne with my dad who's with my younger brother's family. It's neat to know that they aren't so far away.

Every now and then, I think it's important to go away and spend time with loved ones in different spaces and places to share that bond that reminds us of how unique we are as a family and to be grateful for one another. It's neat to have time out to unwind and to also consider and reflect on what else needs to be done upon returning home. So I definitely encourage going away on retreats to spend time together and to relax and enjoy each other's company. I know that children grow up so fast and with time continually ticking by, we definitely want to spend some special times together as they grow up.