Monday, 31 August 2015

Author Book Readings in South Auckland and Hawaii?

Displaying Picture 1.jpg It's been such a busy year and have been very thankful in the opportunities that I've been given to share the stories that were passed on to me with the next generations in schools.

This pic was at a South Auckland school that recently invited me to read with the junior and senior students in fact I found that one of the teachers was an old friend of mine that I had had at church in my teens and we had lost contact as she'd moved to Australia.

It was also neat to see that I'm able to do something that I remember wishing I could do as a teacher as I remember only one author/poet who visited as Ruperake Petaia (Samoan poet) in having come across his poetry as an undergraduate. I understand that he's now a minister and was one of the judges for the Samoan short story competition recently.

I must say that having a secondary teaching background has been an advantage and watching how students behave in various settings reminds me of my days of being a Dean, a teacher manager of the library, a playwright and high school production director etc. Never a dull moment but also one that I'll treasure but can never go back to in now having a family of my own.

Am looking forward to visiting Hawaii with my daughter's school group at the end of the year and maybe reading and sharing the stories there. It's been a while since I've visited Oahu and so hoping to travel along and make memories as we go ...

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Girlz nite out to watch "War Room" movie by Kendrick Brothers

Went on a girlz nite out this weekend to watch the latest offering by the Kendrick brothers called "War Room". Had heard some positive reviews through Radio Rhema and thought to check it out myself as there are 4 days of screening at our local movie theatre and I suppose depending on attendance may continue or not.

At our particular screening it was pretty full and the funny thing about it was that there was clapping by the audience which I normally see at a kids movie but at this, there was a lot of interest in the subject matter.

I think even more interesting was that the main family was based on an African American family and the crises that they go through. I would definitely encourage this movie for couples to watch together but also for adolescents etc. as my children found it really interesting to view and it discussed a lot of issues that modern day families go through.

Another theme which was very important in the movie was the power of prayer or how we often don't tap into it enough. It also made me reflect on how prayer was such an important part of my life as a child growing up with my dad regularly encouraging us to come together as a family every evening. Something which he still does today both mornings and evenings with Grace in between.

It's definitely a movie I would recommend to all and a timely reminder to check in with the Man upstairs not only when things are going badly but even when things are going well...

Friday, 28 August 2015

"Tagaloalagi" 4th book launch on 25 September 2015...

Looking forward to the 4th book launch and the second in the play series with this particular play called "Tagaloalagi". Here I'm revealing the cover that was a design collaboration between my eldest daughter and myself.

It continues the story of the first play "Maui and Sina" and follows his youngest brother (who wasn't created in the first play) Tagaloalagi and explores how he copes with peer pressure and the tensions between culture and his peers.

This particular play will be launched on Friday 25 Sept at 10.30 am at Mangere East library and looking forward to sharing this second play with the public.

It's actually already had two public performances (back in the 1990s) by Tangaroa College when I first wrote it and Nga Tapuwae College in the subsequent year. Both plays were accepted and praised by both communities with much satisfaction as a writer at the time.

Looking forward to finally seeing these books in print and to pass it on to the next generation as I realised that these plays had not been in public settings for some time. And now it's time...

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Movie "War Room" opening in NZ Events theatres tomorrow...


I've heard quite a bit about this movie on Radio Rhema (1251 AM) in Auckland and looking forward to viewing it on the weekend. It's made by the same Christian movie makers of the movie "Courageous" about 4 men overcoming difficulties and the vow that they make to their families in the end is really powerful.

And my mum really likes the movie "Fireproof" that I bought a few years ago and she took it to Samoa with her. It has a powerful and healing message about how a couple are torn apart by issues but slowly, with the help of a mentor, they heal their marriage and come together again.

The two movies that I've watched so far have powerful messages for both couples and families. It really makes you think about the day to day decisions that we often make when facing adversity and how it can positively or negatively affect a family.

The two other movies which I haven't had the chance of viewing yet are "Flywheel" and "Facing the Giants" all with a Christian messsages about overcoming family problems/issues and working together.

A couple of years ago, I heard an interview by the Kendrick Brothers, who are the movie makers, about their dream of making a movie and in making it happen. It was within a small US community who worked together with a small budget, but then viewers in the USA really enjoyed the movies with rave reviews that they are continuing to make more movies.

It shows how powerful the power of the pen and the power of the lens is. So if you're not doing anything this weekend, why not check it out? or view the other movies...


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

"Maui and Sina" in Auckland libraries! Coming to you soon...

Image result for auckland libraries
Last week, I got an amazing letter that I had been waiting for 20+ years to receive and it was a letter from a company who buys books on behalf of Auckland libraries that they wanted to purchase copies of "Maui and Sina" to be placed in Auckland libraries.

I could not contain myself, firstly because I wasn't sure about public interest in the plays as plays often don't get much publicity and secondly as I'd written them 20 years ago as a high school teacher with a specifically South Auckland flavour for Pasifika/Maori audiences and I wasn't sure if people would be interested in the context/content.

Boy was I wrong, and I also received my first school bulk order having spoken to one of my dear friends who made it all happen years ago. And then to meet one of my ex-students who's now a Head of department of a South Auckland school and wants to stage the production next year as their school production.

Oh my goodness! so many things to celebrate. In fact, it was so funny because in receiving the letter and then the news about having the play staged next year, all happened on the same day and quite took me by surprise that I went to celebrate (whilst still at work) by looking to buy a giant afghan but there weren't any left.

Instead, I had a treat with my family and just enjoyed the moment. And I hope that this is just the beginning as there is definitely more to come...

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Author talks at schools

It's been an interesting journey so far in my writing career in switching from being a writer (i.e. anyone writes) to an author (all-be-it as a self-published author). People seem to make a distinction between the two as the author having somewhat more importance than a writer but to me, it's definitely opened up more avenues in being able to talk about books that have been created and seem to have a life all of their own.

Last week, I was invited to talk during a library week for a SDA Seventh Day Adventist school with senior children followed by junior children. It was really interesting because I realised that I needed to get into a storytelling mode and having lost my 'teacher voice' as they called it years ago with that controlling tone, it made for an interesting session upon which they gave me a microphone to hold and talk with the children.

I started by telling them a little about my background and then read the stories of "Sina and the Tuna" and "Mt Vaea and tears of Apa'ula". They were most well behaved and even in the group work with the Q and A time we had fun. There's definitely food for thought there and I need to work out the storytelling persona that I would like to be.

One of the most endearing Qs that is often asked by children is to ask if the stories are true. I explain how for the people of those times, it was very true but today many don't believe in them but that like European fairy tales as a child, we often think of them as true when we use our imagination.

The other thing about Samoan ancient stories is that more often than not, someone dies or it doesn't end with a 'happily ever after' ending or a part where the young lady and man race off into the sunset. I guess because they were probably based on true life, that these were mirrored in the ending. Definitely food for thought...

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Life south moves to the Dream Centre

Image result for life church aucklandThis week I went with Fritz (husband) to our corporate Life church prayer meeting at the Dream Centre which was called by the senior pastors to a location which was once the Village 6/8 cinema's developed in the 1980s before it was converted into the Dream Centre around the late 2000s (a little different from the one in USA).

It brought back memories of when I was a high school teacher and would take students to view the movies as a treat or I'd go there myself with friends and family members. Now parts of the movie theatre has run down and in dire need of repair and refurbishment.

As I understand it, Life church senior pastors were approached to see if there was interest in buying the complex. With its central South Auckland location, close proximity to the highways for easy access it seems to be a God plan. At the prayer meeting we were able to go through the complex and pray in the different rooms. We were able to also see the future plans for the complex with the move in date proposed for next year in May when annual church conference opens and if things go according to plan.

In terms of church locations, there area a number of churches who have located themselves within the central Manukau centre within 5 mins driving range of each other i.e. the Morman complex on the hill, Destiny church, Manukau city baptist church and all very close to the Vector Arena events centre, Eateries and Rainbows End fun park.

I think the difference that Life South church will bring is in its vision to put $20 million into supporting local communities in the way of support services as the church encourages business development and a philosophy of helping out and supporting local community development.

I'm looking forward to seeing how things plan out and will certainly miss the current Mangere location which is only a 10 min drive down the road to church but with an amazing opportunity like this, there is much to look forward to...

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Happy Birthday Aunty and Fundraiser...

Manhattan Wedding set up
 Last night I went to Manhattan in Mt Roskill with a friend and fellow parents group fundraising komiti member to check it out for a planned fundraiser for our childrens' school trip planned for Hawaii (Oahu island) at the end of the year.

And there I met with two of my relatives and especially my Aunty Martha who was celebrating her birthday with friends. Funny how many of us meet in our Pacific circles.

There was certainly a nice atmosphere with nicely catered food and mainly Pacific groups coming together to celebrate special occasions with their loved ones which included good food, a good relaxed atmosphere, dancing, a good house band "20 20" (as in the vision?) and DJ mixes (mainly music out of the 80s).

Aunty Martha celebrating her birthday
We got to meet the owner and we were able to discuss a lot of different scenarios with the specific purpose of wanting to fundraise for this amazing opportunity for our children but to also give a neat experience for those who might want to support us on this fundraising endeavour.

I certainly enjoyed watching the different groups meeting at 7 pm together when the doors opened with dinner served soon after at 7.30pm with dessert soon after that. The House band/mixes played throughout with two members of whom I had gone to Mangere PIC Church with (back in the day) and it was neat to see how they were able to use their talents to entertain a crowd and also to benefit from it.

By 8.30pm when the different occasions were announce and they got to blow out the various cakes etc. some of the families with children started to leave so that by 9 + pm mainly adults were left.

Certainly looking forward to supporting the organising/planning this event with my learned colleagues and will keep you posted...

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Moana - Disney Princess movie release in 2016

Moana the latest Disney Princess set to be released in 2016
 Looking forward to the next Disney movie to be released in late 2016 called "Moana" featuring Dwayne Johnson's voice as Maui and not to forget the global search for the voice of Moana from Samoa and New Zealand etc. (I suspect more for a bit of a public relations exercise) and now Te Vaka will feature on the sound track - Wow! this better to be good :)

I read that many are saying that this is the first Polynesian Disney movie but in actual fact "Lilo and Stitch" released in 2003 was a movie set in Hawaii and I thought a real let down in the storyline of having to have aliens added as if Hawaii doesn't have any stories of its own. It looks like now they're going to try and add a more authentic storyline, Disney style, and it's going to be real interesting to see how they depict 'us' as Pasifika with many going to watch the latest edition when it is released.

Te Vaka's music will feature in the movie "Moana"
It's interested that in reading the blurb about the storyline that it's set some 2-3000 years ago when our ancestors and forefathers/mothers were traversing the superhighway of the Pacific oceans and dispersing populations throughout the Pacific so that we now have certain words that are shared between Maori, Samoan, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga i.e. numbers, letters, formation of words etc.

Really looking forward to viewing and critiquing the movie as I'm sure it will give a lot of food for thought especially as they will be depicting Moana as the latest edition to the Disney (Pacific) Princess with a major marketing campaign to follow...

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Farewell to Nan (lo'u sei oriana)

Yesterday, we said goodbye to a fellow colleague but also esteemed Kuia/Nan (Maori term of endearment for a mature older woman) who has spent the better part of 25 years with Te Wananga o Aotearoa as an advocate, teacher and later as cultural advisor.

The celebrations took the better part of a day with each department paying tribute and singing songs or doing items etc. I thought it best to leave the speech making to more senior colleagues but was able to join in on our Pasifika groups dances and songs.

This youtube clip illustrates a Samoan song that we (the Pasifika group) sang, although only a few of us knew the words. "Lo'u sei Oriana" is a song that I remember growing up with and it has a lovely tune. It's about a flower that is often used for adorning behind the ears of young woman (and men). Here it is sung by one of my favourite Samoan Christian groups "The Katinas" who are American Samoan brothers who are now based in the United States. I'd been to a couple of their concerts when Fritz and I first got married and it was neat to hear that they also have a cover of this special song.

I must say that I think we were the most entertaining group with a Samoan taualuga i.e. a young woman dancing centre stage with surrounded by other woman and men dancing around her and giving her money that was then given to Nan. The men also did a 'haka' of sorts which turned out hilarious as each man did his own to the Cook Island drum beat whilst we sang the Samoan song "Faleula e".

We then ended with the famous 'Around the world' Cook Islands drum dance where we had to go to the front table and ask one of them for a dance and then to get our partner to dance while we try not to laugh too much. I asked one of the Matua (mature men) that I had met last week at Te Awamutu and I could see that he was pretty good and had done Cook Islands men dancing before as he knew how to shake his knees :)

Anyway, it was good to be able to share our Pasifika culture with other staff members and I know that our Nan enjoyed it too. Tofa Soifua Nan, ia manuia lou malaga Goodbye Nan, may your journey be blessed...

Monday, 10 August 2015

Te Awamutu Marae retreat...

 Spent 3 days last week at Te Awamutu and had a neat time with the team of 7 of us from Auckland (pictured here with me at the right.)

We stayed at Otawhao Marae which was on Te Awamutu College grounds. I'd recommend to any NZer that if you haven't stayed overnight on a Marae, then you may have missed out on a very unique and interesting experience.

I'd stayed on Marae before overnight, but this was interesting in that we were explained about the different carvings and the tukutuku patterns and was even given a book about the history of the Marae.

I think the highlight of the time was learning about the history of where Te Wananga o Aotearoa started and the insurmountable obstacles that they had to overcome to now being where it is as the largest indigenous tertiary institute in the world being that it has many campuses and satellite sites all over NZ.

It also helped me to reflect on myself and what it would mean to leave a contribution of consequence in that it would be a legacy that I would leave behind but would continue. I think to me that that would be in my family but also in my writing in hoping that there would be some important messages that need to be continued...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Writing retreat in Te Awamutu

So much to do and so little time... You may have heard this phrase before and this certainly applies to me as I have to go to Te Awamutu for 3 days on a work related task and certainly hate being away from my family but this needs to be done.

So will look at this as an opportunity in having my own writing retreat away from home to get some real mileage in my writing with a few plays ready to be published.

I must say that I have been a little spoiled as in the last 2 years, I was able to get away to Long Bay (Anglican Beach retreat) for a writing retreat that was also work related and I was able to write poetry in the first year with I then presented at a work Symposium and then last year I wrote a non-fiction piece about my job.

This time it's about releasing the plays out into the wild blue yonder and seeing what opportunities it brings. Have already been approached by Auckland Libraries with interest to purchase my books into the Pacific collection - Wee hee! Thank you God with interest coming from schools now to purchase for their library collections as well.

This is really exciting as 21 years ago when I first approached a major publisher about publishing my plays and a couple of places afterwards, they weren't really interested but now I feel that there is a critical mass and that I'm better able to tap into this niche market that often prints very little in the way of things Pasifika.

So, off the merry way I go.... to write and beyond...

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Post book launch: Author Interview Q & A

Have been so busy since the book launch that almost forgot to write up a post. Had a wonderful day with some students from Mangere College who volunteered to play act out scenes. It was nicely hosted by Mangere Town Centre library manager and staff and they set out a wonderful scene for me to display my books and resources.

We also had our resident Life South Pastor Neal bless the books and then had some time for students to ask a few questions (posed by the library) that I answered as follows:

Q. Tell us a little bit about your childhood, teen years - what kind of kid were you? where did you grow up? what did you want to be growing up?

A. I was brought up in Mangere and went to Nga Tapuwae College which is now Southern Cross campus. I was one of the shy kids who never liked to answer questions in class but I loved art and writing. I really wanted to go to the States (USA) when I was younger thinking that it was the best place to be. I was wrong especially when visiting East L.A. when I was 18 years, I thought Mangere was hard case but you had to be more careful there. In growing up I wanted to be an art director or something to do with art. Now my wish has come true! in writing and designing a book.

Q. What made you want to write a play about mythical figures?

A. It was when I went to do my first Masters fieldwork in Samoa and I realised that there were a lot of ancient Samoan stories that weren't being passed on and then upon becoming an English teacher at a South Auckland high school I went and viewed another colleague's production at another South Auckland high school and was so upset that they were enacting a European fairy tale story that it kick-started my writing to produce an authentic Maori/Pasifika play for students and the community. It was an instant hit.

In fact, it was a "God moment" when the visiting teacher of the class spoke about being a youngster at the time and he had viewed all 3 plays of the triology that I had produced between 1994 - 1996. Amazing! it was like I was having a 'God conversation' in that I had framed up a few photos of the production and when the teacher saw the photos, he instantly remembered that he had watched the plays and that it had been authentic with Pasifika songs and dances, costumes and people. Now that was such a blessing to witness.

We then finished with a piece of cake, drink and with a big thanks from my M.C. husband, Fritz, we ended the day with a prayer and appreciation to all who had attended. Later that evening we went to celebrate with Yum Char and the night markets with my family. All in a days work...