Sunday, 28 February 2016

Uso bike riders in Mangere...

Image result for uso bike ride    This week I've seen the Uso bike riders cycling around Mangere and it's so encouraging to see a group of Pasfika men raising awareness on health related issues and in this case specifically cancer. They are riding from Bluff in the South Island to up North in the North Island whilst stopping at various centres to talk with Pasifika communities.

You can see them riding in their blue/yellow Pasifika (Samoan?) patterned tops, bike gear and helmets and I watched a short feature on Tagata Pasifika, yesterday, where they rode into Mangere to talk to different audiences to bring about an awareness of various health issues plus the fact that cycling is a good sport to participate in. You can also check out the details on their website just google "Uso bike riders" and you'll be linked to them.

Having run a duathlon some years ago and with a husband who likes to bike to work, and children each with a bike, we definitely promote the use of bikes but with the growing number of cars on the road it is with a little caution.

So if you happen to see them, give them a wave or a toot as they are doing a good mission and also in saying that they are not raising funds but raising awareness for healthy Pasifika peoples. Well done guys and keep on riding...

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Doctoral studies at AUT University ...

Image result for doctoral studies This week marks the first official start of my Doctoral studies in Education at AUT University. The topic is broadly about Pasifika lead educational initiatives in Mangere that seek to re/address educational disparities since 2000. That's kind of my working title but am thinking that perhaps the story behind it may be the commentary that I need to start working on first.

So for the last 2 days, I've taken study leave from work to meet together with my cohort and other fellow post graduates on the same course, to concentrate on starting my first chapter which is quite exciting as I started writing the words of my first chapter last night.

It's also exciting as I've started my spiritual Gideon bible study (with Priscilla Shirer) that walks hand in hand with the more secular Doctoral studies. For me it's about being grounded in my faith as I walk out this academic journey and to see where God wants me to take this thesis.

So it's a new chapter in my life and also a means to an end as I've wanted to complete these doctoral studies for years in my dad wanting for me to be a doctor (as in physician) and as a ardent student at high school, it's fulfilling a dream to seek that potential and share it with others.

I hope that you can also be working towards your goals and fulfilling your dreams. Like in the bible study piece that I learnt today, it is that you have to be intentional in that you actually have to map out how you are going to meet your goal and then begin walking that journey. For me, walking that journey hand in hand with God is essential.

I'm looking forward to the days ahead and the journey begins...

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Gideon bible study with Priscilla Shirer...

Last night, I started my first individual bible study before meeting with my church ladies' group next week. The study is on Gideon with Priscilla Shirer via DVD and workbook. So as well as my academic studies, one of my goals for this year was to also complete an in-depth bible study much like Beth Moore's bible studies that I've enjoyed for women over the years.

I recognized Priscilla Shirer as the main character from the movie "War Room" which I watched my family last year. One of the things that I still need to work on from that movie was to set up a prayer room and maybe this bible study will help me to make this happen (although we do have an additional 2 people added to our family - so not so sure on space.)

The neat thing that I've already picked up on the first lesson is that we as parents/caregivers/mature adults need to mentor those who are younger or less experienced in life than us particularly our children and those around. I've mentored other young women over the years, some as friends and some as students and also for school organisations.

I think these studies will take me to another level of understanding but then I also want to pass on this new learning in my writings as an author, academic studies and bible studies - my art works as I see them walking hand in hand to be able to learn much and then to pass it on.

So in these blogs you'll read about my learning journeys and thank you for taking the time out to read and then I hope that it will, in turn, inspire you to continue on your journey no matter what it is or where it takes you to...

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Starting EdD studies at AUT...

Image result for EdD doctorate in education It has been a long time coming but have finally been given approval to start a Doctorate in Education (EdD) at AUT University where I completed a Masters in Creative Writing in 2012.

My journey in PhD studies has been a long and arduous one which first started when I completed my first Masters in Geography at Auckland University back in my early 20s but at the time I didn't have the funds to continue and wanted to help my parents out financially so I started teaching but only for two years I vowed and then will get back to my studies.

However, I loved teaching the students (but wasn't into the staff politics) and I ended up teaching in secondary school for 6 years and in 1997 when I first started working Education contracts I started a PhD in Geography but found after 4 years that I couldn't relate to the literature that I had to review and it wasn't in the direction that I wanted to take and so in 2000 when I first met my beau who later became my beloved it was easier to withdraw and concentrate on starting a family.

It was my goal when I was in my 20s to complete my PhD before I turned 30 but as with life so many things happen that I wasn't able to fulfil my goal. I did start up again in 2004 at Auckland Uni with EdD studies and had my proposal accepted and supervision sorted but then became pregnant with our second daughter as well as having hyperemesis which means that I was in and out of hospital and so again I withdrew from the course.

Again, in 2013 I submitted a proposal towards a PhD in Creative Writing but then I had problems with finding a suitable primary supervisor as the Creative writing field is still small in NZ and things fell through again.

This time, I prayerfully want to engage and will finish it once and for all. My first portfolio block starts for 2 days at the end of the week and I'm hoping to meet with my cohort to get a feel for the different topics that we will all be researching.

This is such an amazing opportunity that I am so thankful for in thanking God in all things...

Monday, 22 February 2016

Day 1: 21 Day Daniel fast

Image result for daniel fast 21 days Today begins the first day of our 21-day corporate church's Daniel fast that I am partaking in with my beloved and it's an appropriate time during Lent as a time of reflection and prayer about getting in tune with what God's plan is for us as a church but also as individuals in our families.

I still remember the first time that my beloved and I did the Daniel fast as we just found out on the Sunday to begin on the Monday. So for the first week we only ate fresh and raw fruit and veges and then on the second week we added cooked meals. Needless to say that the first week I lost 5kgs and then started eating Tofu on the second week but this time around I think we're just going to take it easy with fruits and veges.

I find that I look forward to these times as I find it refreshing and I'm more alert with what's going on as well as hearing that still, quiet voice about matters of the heart. I must say already I'm enjoying it but am aware that others don't as it may feel that it's a time of deprivation but really the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

So for me, it's a privilege to be able to share in this time as a church with our senior pastor and his wife i.e. Pastor Paul de Jong and Marie de Jong who have been great role models for our church. Am definitely looking forward to what this season brings and what the Daniel fast reveals. Bring it on!...

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Mangere Markets every Saturday...

Image result for mangere markets Am working this weekend and got the chance to walk down the road for lunch, pay a few bills and check out the Mangere markets where my beloved surprised me and literally bumped into me (he had just finished doing our family shopping for the week) and we went out and had lunch.

I still remember before the markets started that the town centre was a ghost town on Saturdays as most people would go to Manukau city and other modern shopping development areas but since the Saturday markets were developed, it's a pain to look for parking on Saturday and I try and shop during the week rather than on Saturday.

The market provides a good source of income for locals like the fruit and vege vendors who come out with seasonal specials and the Cook Island donuts are popular with many at a dozen for $5. Then there's the usual clothes market area, cooked foods and plenty of other wares to view.

I've found that the most busiest times are just before Christmas, during the holiday breaks such as Easter, Labour Day and Public holidays and that's the time that I try and get there well before 9am to look for hassle free parking.

It's great to have such markets that are similar to the ones in Australia, Samoa, the Cooks, Fiji and I didn't quite see one in Oahu, Hawaii but hope to catch it the next time I travel there...

Friday, 19 February 2016

Walk Month March...

Have just finished registering my family on the Auckland Feet beat Walking challenge which starts in March. When you do register early, you can receive a walking pack for your group and there are prizes to gain during the month.

I think it's a great way to exercise, stay healthy and lose weight especially in using a pedometer that tracks the amount of steps you take in a day. The goal is to step with at least 10,000 steps per day towards a healthy heart and lifestyle.

My beloved is big on walking and used to be a long distance runner back in the day and he likes to walk or bike to work whenever he has the opportunity which is a 11.5 km to work one way and sometimes he beats the feet even when it's raining.

So if you're looking for a challenge to take up with your co-workers or family or with a couple of friends in Auckland, why not register and give it a go. You never know, you might even get hooked...

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Ladies Art group start up...

Image result for adult colouring Have started a monthly Saturday morning art group for women interested in having a creative spice in their lives. It all started last weekend when a couple of friends invited me and my family to a picnic lunch for a birthday celebration but because of my busy schedule, I asked to change it to an early morning breakfast at a local early opening cafe. There my friends spoke about them getting together weekly for painting sessions.

After our neat breakfast, I spoke about how it would be neat to meet monthly (due to my busy schedule) and to have an art project that we work on to share at the next monthly breakfast. They thought it would be a good idea as I'm currently working on the small canvas to send to Waiheke Island which then gets forwarded to Italy.

We're now set to meet monthly with our next meeting due late next month. Our homework for this month is to colour a Chinese dragon/or lion (as I interpret it as being) by Johanna Basford (my favourite grown up colouring book artist) and to bring it along to our monthly meeting and to talk about it.

We now have a group of 4 as my artistic younger sister has now joined it and it's pretty neat to see women now doing something that often we don't get time to do. In fact, when I was in my 20s+ I thought that I would have to wait until I retired before I would start painting because I was so busy with my education career and then my family needing my support and attention.

It now feels like the time is right to begin to enjoy the things that I didn't put as a priority. Other art projects may include painting, scrapbooking page, origami, mixed media etc.

And in closing my daughter asked me about how quiet my book projects have been lately (am looking at launching the first book in early April) and suggested for me to consider drawing up a Pasifika patterns colouring book similar to many of the paintings that I've been painting over the years but haven't promoted. I think I'll take her up on her suggestion and watch this space...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Feeling 'blessed' with 'grace' and a good friend...

On the weekend, a good friend of mine gave me a belated special gift for my significant birthday last year and it was such a blessing to receive it.

I've known her for years although I am a few years older as we went to the same high school and church and have kept in touch with her over the years.

She became a primary school teacher soon after I left secondary school teaching and is still working with primary school students having helped in the setting up of the first charter school in Mangere catering for Maori and Pasifika students.

It is such a great blessing to find a good friend that you are able to be 'real' with and whom you can share the defeats in life as well as the victories. She is also a prayer partner as we get together fortnightly to pray about all sorts and my prayer for her today is that she can feel blessed in having me as a friend as much as I appreciate her friendship...

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Birthday party prepping...

Image result for birthday parties Yesterday, I had a day in lieu off work which gave me the opportunity to catch up with different things that I need to organise for book launches venues, art galleries and exhibitions, and one of those important occasions for next month is our youngest's significant birthday.

I've been organising family birthdays, weddings, holiday celebrations etc. since I was young, firstly for my parents and siblings and now for my own family. My beloved isn't really into the whole organising but he always helps out big time with all the things that we do.

Yesterday, I was able to secure a venue, check out the birthday cake, consider times, food, entertainment and now to work on the invitations, the menu and the programme. I think money and resources plays a big factor for many families in organising such events but I think the most important thing that we can ever share with a child is to feel loved and cared for.

So our youngest is now excited and looking forward to the day with her friends and family members. As with Samoan families it's trying to keep within a budget as we have big families on both sides of the family yet allowing her to enjoy her day in celebration of a significant milestone and feeling blessed...

Monday, 15 February 2016

Happy Valentines Day...

Image result for happy valentine's day Was so busy yesterday that I didn't get to post a blog but still good to reflect on this special day for couples and what it means for some.

For myself and my beloved, this is our 16th Valentines year that we've spent together and I might have already blogged about the fact that it back in the year 2000, our first date was on this day at Mission Bay and I remember thinking to myself that either he was the one or I'd remember a failed Valentines date for the rest of my life. Ha ha. Needless to say that on that day he kinda proposed because he said that he could see himself spending the rest of his life with me and the rest is history.

I got to spend a special morning breakfast with my beloved by ourselves and it was refreshing to spend time together as often, with our busy schedule and growing family, there are so many responsibilities but not time to recharge and share alone together.

And at church, one of the Pastors, Ps Cy Rodgers, shared with us about the history of the day through the actions of a Christian martyr who's name was Valentine and how it's also a good time to check our heart i.e. the spiritual, mental and physical heart and for couples it's also about checking on how healthy their relationship/ heart is with each other.

My beloved and I were able to reflect some more on this after lunch with some time out for each other to have a 'healthy heart check' conversation and have even decided to do this more regularly each month. To have a 'date' and healthy conversation about the important things that we can often miss discussing in the busyness of life.

I hope you had a meaningful Valentines day and was able to spend time with people you love. Although often over commercialised, it is also a timely reminder to spend quality times with the people we love in healthy heart check conversations...

Friday, 12 February 2016

Free computing courses for level 2-3...

Image result for twoa computing level 2-3 Only one more month to go before finishing my free level 2-3 computing course here at Te Wananga o Aotearoa with free hireage of a PC (personal computer). It's a course that I had been wanting to do for a while as I've been working on computers for years but hadn't learnt all the shortcut how to's but now I'm looking at only 2 more modules to go and I will have some official qualifications.

So if you know of anyone who is interested in taking up this free academic/technological challenge or it's one of their new year's resolutions, then it might be a good idea to ask them to enrol in this course which is a good start for the beginner at level 2 and then it can staircase to other learning pathways.

Most of the learning is home based with only a three-hour weekly tutorial which is often in the evenings or weekends or during the week. There are classes all over Auckland with our campus out West in Henderson, Tamaki, Mangere and throughout NZ.

I've seen more mature students learning alongside youth and it's a safe environment for those who haven't been in studies for sometime, often known as the second chance learner.

I'm glad I've done this course and can tick it off as yet another professional develop PD opportunity that I've taken to further hone my skills. Also came in handy for working on the books when not having fun in the sun...

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Pacific Education Centre - Samoan faamatai classes...

Image result for pacific education centre Last year, I enrolled in a Samoan class that was very intense, practical and challenging but I learnt a lot from it. It culminated in an evening where we were able to share with our families the things that we had learnt in: lauga (speech making), faalupega (traditional words associated with each village) and so much more.

From that experience, I wanted to continue my studies and got the chance yesterday to follow my learning path and enrolled with the PEC Pasifika Education Centre at Manukau to pursue my interest of learning more about the 'faamatai' (chiefly protocols) in a bilingual context with other people of the similar interests.

Our tutor is a former colleague of mine whom I met when I was working as a facilitator for the Ministry of Education secondary teaching language contracts. He and his wife both are/were secondary trained teachers who both taught Samoan language in Auckland secondary schools and have been sharing their knowledge with the next generation/s through PEC for a number of years.

One of the first things we had to do was to talk about ourselves 'o ai a'u?' (who am I?) in a Samoan context which involved talking about our parents villages, our names and matai title/s and what we wanted to achieve in the class. I was first up and because I was familiar with this having learnt the formal introductions in my last class, I was able to talk about my parents village associations, my chiefly title of Faalavaau, which comes from Siufaga, Falelatai and my hopes for the class.

I think for me, it felt like a safe environment and I learnt so much in that 2 hours of listening to our tutor and in the Q and A times we had. It's a time that we are able to reflect on what we know about the faaSamoa (Samoan way of doing things) and the new information that we are learning. I feel blessed that I am able to be a part of this class and look forward to the many new things that we are about to learn.

I reflected yesterday and realise that it is now 16 years since I was bestowed with my father's first chiefly title and at first I was quite scared and ashamed of not knowing how to reply and talk about things as a matai but in pursuing knowledge and understanding of these ancient forms of communication, I'm finding that there is so much more that I want to know and that I no longer feel afraid of my own faaSamoa.

Therefore, cast your net out wide and deep so that you might catch some big fish...
P.S. If you are interested in enrolling in these free courses you can contact PEC on:

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Imago Mundi Benetton World Art - "Kiwi Consciousness" NZ project...

Yesterday, I received a special invitation to participate in an exciting international initiative. It was from a curator working on a project on behalf of the Luciano Benetton World Art collection in Italy to gather an art piece from 210 artists from NZ (70 Maori & 140 non-Maori) who will form part of a unique collection of NZ art.

The NZ collection is called "Imago Mundi Benetton World Art - Kiwi Consciousness" NZ project and each of us will be supplied with a 10cm x 12cm canvas that we are to make into an art piece that expresses our signature art, choosing our own subject matter and media on the theme.

This is very exciting as it was only last year that I started displaying my artwork through my self published books and in my blogs, although I had been painting and drawing on and off for years. I had initially thought that I would have to retire before I could dedicate myself to interest in fine arts but now - Wow!

I have some ideas on the type of art piece that I want to paint that represents some important ideas to me and looking forward to sharing this with the world as it goes on show. I'm also developing ideas for an exhibition that I'm hoping to launch in May of this year and will keep all posted as I go. Thank you God for a great opportunity out of the blue...

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Observing Lent Feb 10 - 24 March 2016...

Image result for lent 2016 This morning, on Radio Rhema, I heard about an announcer getting ready to observe Lent and it reminded me of a best friend, during my teaching days, who was also Catholic and observed Lent over a period of 40 days in having to give up something during this period of time i.e. ice cream and other delights.

Today, I spoke to an Anglican friend of mine and she also observes Lent starting tomorrow and after 40 days will end on Easter Sunday. Growing up in the Presbyterian church, we didn't observe Lent but heard about it. It's a special time in the Christian calender that symbolises the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before going into His ministry.

I've found it very interesting in observing my friends in that it is quite involved in the various activities that are observed such as Shrove Tuesday with pancakes, Ash Wednesday, the washing of feet, Palm Sunday, eating austere foods during the time and Easter celebrations.

I've yet to decide as to how I will symbolically observe Lent with my family as not just yet another weekend of Hot Cross buns, moulded rabbit chocolates and Easter eggs but a time that remembers how a life was sacrificed that reverberated change throughout the world and still to this day. Due to one mans life, his death and then his new life, the world will never be the same...

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Enjoying H.I.P.P.Y. Home Instruction programme for preschool youngsters...

Image result for hippy programImage result for hippy program I have been a big fan of H.I.P.P.Y. (Home Instruction programme for Parents and Youngsters) when I first heard about it in the 1990s and a teaching colleague of mine left teaching to go to Israel to see the benefits of this programme first hand to bring to South Auckland.

I enrolled my youngest sister in 1999 for the two year programme when she was 4-5 years old with amazing benefits for her which is now evident in my three children with two having completed the programme and my youngest is currently completing her final year.

So if you know of any parents with 3-3.5 year old children, it's a perfect age to enrol them into this literacy programme for kiwi youngsters to get them school ready before taking those first steps into a school on their first day. I know that the programme is also run in Australia and the US.

The programme, in New Zealand, is delivered via the Great Potentials Foundation with co-founder Dame Lesley Max as the driving force behind the establishment of the programme in major centres within New Zealand.

I remember speaking briefly with her in the early 1990s. She was passionate about the programme and what it could do for families with youngsters. I would often see her speak at various education forum discussions in seeking government support for funding the programme which it is now fully funded. She was able to achieve her goal and went on to establish other important programmes.

The programme entails: A HIPPY tutor spending time with the parent/caregiver to go over the weeks lessons over a 30 week period with a weekly 5 day activity booklet. It takes a daily 30 minutes in which a parent/caregiver spends time on different literacy/numeracy activities with their youngster whilst creating a neat learning environment in the home. The child also receives several books throughout the year to keep and the programme is charged at a small fee for each child but definitely worth it.

All my children loved it and have gone from strength to strength in participating. It's also been a special time for me to spend quality time with each child as a youngster to learn important basic principles of being school ready armed with essential knowledge.

At the end of the programme each child is invited to attend a graduation ceremony where they wear special gowns, receive framed certificates and have a celebration and photo session with their families. This programme I would highly recommend to all parents so check it out in a centre near you...