Monday, 27 June 2016

Movie Review - "3 wise cousins"... Highly recommended!

Image result for three wise cousins If you haven't had the chance to see "Three wise cousins" by film maker/director/producer/screenwriter (ha ha) Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (sounds like my experience), then I would highly recommend you watch it with your whole wider extended family (although it does have a RP13 rating).

And a big thanks to Life South Campus for screening the movie for free for families to watch in which I was able to bring my family of 8 (with a few members missing) due to the generousity of Vaiaoga-Ioasa who gifted the opportunity to watch this film to our communities. There we were able to buy American hot-dogs and water for a neat price, with free popcorn so it even gave the feel of going to the movies (although it used to be an ex-movie theatre - 3 busted down to now make room for a large auditorium on one side before it became church) with some before the movie entertainment by local rappers, singers and music artists. All in all, an awesome evening for everyone with "Rio 2" showing for the children.

A big "ups" to Vaiaoga-Ioasa and it must have been neat and satisfying to listen to the audience "cracking up" (laughing) in all the right place, especially since Manukau city is the capital city in the world with Pacific peoples! (ah ha) I was sitting next to my younger sis and we joked and laughed throughout the movie and you could tell who were Samoans as they even laughed when they spoke Samoan or when there were innuendos that other cultures might not have understood.

I also took my parents and they enjoyed it too. I mean, I did watch "Sione's wedding" but it didn't really resonate with me much and even before that with Albert Wendt's novel turned movie "Sons for the return home" was not really very helpful but this movie was so funny in that the NZ born cousin paints a picture so many NZ born Pacific males who don't really realise the hardworking ethic that Pacific born parents came with and then the main character, Adam, learns that there is more to being a "Island guy" than just living in the islands - that it actually takes a lot of hard work, including winning the girl of his dreams.

I love that there are many lessons for NZ born Pacific youth i.e. learning to climb a coconut tree, serving elders first, selling coco around the markets, clearing a plantation with a machete, making a umu etc. really love this fact about the movie in that it turns around the situation in that "we" NZ born have a lot to learn practically about living on the Pacific Islands that we take for granted as well as the value of looking after each other.

There are so many layers to this comedy that I enjoyed as the three cousins played their characters wonderfully with Mose, the "bad cop" cousin being quite hard but so funny on Adam and the "good cop" cousin, Tavita, was equally as funny. The character of Adam, was played well in that he was very typically the NZ born cousin with no idea of how to do Samoan chores as his parents had mainly done everything for him.

The cinematography of the film was brilliant and loved the camera angles and portrayal of Samoa as I know it as bright and warm, and couldn't help laughing over the fact that Adam, wore PJs to sleep as it would have been so hot! Can't stop talking about it and hope that the Vaiaoga-Ioasa the film maker has many more stories to come. A brilliant effort with having grossed over $1 million dollars at the box-office in NZ and Australia and soon to hit American. All the best as I think even/especially American Pacific people have much to learn as we did here.

Way to go!...

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pacific Business Expo with "Pacific Hibiscus"...

My book stall at the Pacific Business Expo
Had the privilege yesterday of participating at the inaugural Pacific Business Expo at the Vodafone Events centre in Manukau (just down the road from our new church at Life South campus!)

It was an amazing opportunity that started with a cocktail evening on Friday night, of which I had to race into after work. There were a lot a younger attendees but not as many as I had anticipated.

There we had several speakers (all Samoan by memory) who spoke about how vital and important business is within our Pasifika communities and that we needed more to participate in various business sectors etc. That afternoon, I'd set up ready for the stall in which I was able to attend with my eldest child to help out when I wasn't able to man the stall.

For me, the highlight of the event was being able to meet with a range of many people from business owners, to educators and the general public who wanted to know more about our books, as I trade under our company name of "Pacific Hibiscus" (with the same name as the new poetry collection to be launched).

It was also neat to meet with people who wanted to go on our mailing list for upcoming events etc. great to connect with old friends whom have known me on my journey many years ago at Uni and now are able to share a new light in my life as a writer and publisher.

Looking forward to sharing in more events such as this and happy to have had the opportunity to meet with many interested people...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

8th book launch of "Pacific Hibiscus" 1st poetry collection...

So excited for this next book launch at Mangere Bridge library on Friday 29th July at around 1 pm as it's my first poetry collection to be published. I've been writing poetry for years and remember when I first became serious in writing poetry back in 1990 when I first took a creative writing class with Albert Wendt at Auckland University (back in the day - as they say).

Has been a neat exercise deciding which to add to my first collection as I have a few themes I've been writing about i.e. cultural issues, poverty and inequities with resources, disparities in education, motherhood, Samoa etc. and so it will include some "nice" poems as well as some that might be a bit controversial.

What I like about poetry is that you can make up your own rules and use word pictures to build up imagery in the readers mind. Usually poetry has a message for the reader to uncover and with some of my poetry there are layers to be peeled back in order to "get" the message.

The neat thing with the cover of this particular book is that I invited my youngest sis' (Maria Tauau) to design the cover image for the book with the spec's as being: a silhouette of a lady with long flowing hair and hibiscus flowers. I'm really pleased with the finished design result which will be revealed at the launch. The main image is seen above.

Too bad, it won't be ready for the Pacific Business Expo at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, this weekend, but that's okay as looking forward to a variety of opportunities to be able to share the poems and to explain the mysteries with any interested.

I also have a second collection planned for next year but suffice to say that with this collection it will feature some of my earlier poems as well as some poems that were written more recently...

Monday, 20 June 2016

Mangere Mountain Education Centre... in celebrating Matariki...

Had a great time today with my youngest child's class field trip to Mangere Mountain Education Centre as a part of their learning and celebration of Matariki (Maori new year).

The mountain that you can see in the background shows some of the exposed rock which was left behind since the days that they quarried which I think (from memory) stopped in the 1980s. A lot of the scoria from the surrounding hills/mountain were quarried to help make roads and for the airport foundations (not confirmed on those details.)

It was a neat day as the children got to sing a lot of waiata (Maori songs) and then had a workshop on poi making (Maori action song using a small soft ball with a plaited handle) which was really neat as I have made some in my time and was able to help the children out with their 4 plait using coloured wool. And then they were able to sing their waiata whilst spinning the poi around. It was also neat for them to take it home too to show family members.

The next neat workshop that they engaged with was regarding the traditional gardens. A guide explained how kumara (sweet potato) were planted with scoria rocks surrounding the garden in that it kept the plants warm and the moisture in during winter times which would give them 4 extra months of yield as compared to other places growing kumara. The children got to make up fences of scoria rocks that plants might be able to grow in.

The children were also shown gardening implements that were shaped from branches in a tree and helped to dig and hoe the garden. They were also shown a kumara storing hut that was a replica of what kumara was stored in traditionally before refrigerators came into being and the children were all fascinated by it.

We actually ran out of time so that we weren't able to make a traditional kite to fly of which the guides will be going to the school to complete that activity but would like to highly recommend the activities for school and family groups and for learning about this environment as they encouraged anyone to come and visit them as they are opened office hours from Monday to Friday and also during the school holidays.

I'm definitely planning for a visit with my Research class next month (Lord willing) as they have Geological walks that cover geological information as a volcano and environment aspects about conserving the environment. And a 'Maori walk' which covers early migrations of Maori to this area as well as traditional living and gardening in this areas and the significance of protecting this heritage. Some of their services are payable per person but they also have some activities that are via koha (giving of a monetary gift at your discretion).

Something to consider taking your family to during Matariki celebrations...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Upcoming 50th anniversary of Robertson Road school...

 Yesterday, went out visiting schools with a pamphlet drop promoting the new course that I'm teaching as well as other courses starting in Semester B (second half of the year) at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Mangere campus.

Along the way, I stopped at my old primary school and remembered that I had made contact with the principal there last year in realising that the 50 year celebrations would be this year. The neat website of "Old Friends" was taken off line last year by the 'TradeMe' company in that probably didn't have as much traffic going onto it's site.

Quite a shame to not have the website live anymore as the website would have been very handy with the upcoming celebrations and networking that we're going to have in November. Needless to say it will need a good team of people on a planning committee so sending out this blog as well as updating the Facebook page with information of the upcoming plan.

So just a news update for any past or present pupils or students of Robertson Road school to contact the school or any of the social media websites to register interest and will have registration somewhere along the way as well as to share stories, talk about memories of old teachers and the antics we got up to before the advent of computers and devices etc.

Looking forward sharing stories about my old school along the way...

Thursday, 16 June 2016

#Parkup Mangere tonight...

This is a plug for the "Parkup Mangere" event which is on tonight in my community in support of and to show solidarity for the people who have become homeless as a direct result of no longer being able to afford to pay for weekly housing in this area. I never dreamed I'd see the day that families would have to live in cars with children and adults due to unaffordable housing in the area!

The amazing thing is that Te Puea Marae, in Mangere, named after a great Maori kuia (wise woman elder) has opened it's doors to some 30 families and individuals to support them by bringing them off the streets and from their cars to be provided with food and a place to sleep with a lot of support from companies with food and other families providing what they can to support them.

Cars will be asked to park up at the Mangere Town Centre carpark between 6pm tonight till 6am tomorrow night and to bring their survival kits along with them which I've attached to share with you. There are now other communities ready to park up their cars with Otara launching fairly soon and hopefully all over the nation.

And at church last night, our senior pastor, Ps Paul De Jong, prayed for the victim's families and friends in the Orlando massacre that occurred a couple of days ago, in a nightclub, that has taken the lives of many young people and traumatized many family members and friends of the victims who killed or were injured.

So tragic that such hate crimes have happened being the worst killings by a single gunman in US history, that despite the differences in beliefs, a single person (and condoned by an organisation) believes that they have the right to kill so many is a tragedy that will forever change many lives. I pray that good and light will continue to prevail amidst so much evil and darkness in the world...

Sunday, 12 June 2016

New Life South Campus in Manukau City...

 Today we celebrated the opening of our new church building in South Auckland called Life South Campus. It started with a powhiri (Maori welcoming ceremony) by Tainui (local Maori iwi/tribe) followed by the first service at 9.30 am which was packed and overflowing with the next service following at 11.15 am and 6 pm night service.

It was neat to be there and to witness many people coming together to thank God for such an opportunity, although I still miss the old campus which was just down the road with a 5-10 min drive. However, this campus is in the heart of Manukau city which is closer to Otara, East Auckland and a central place just off the main Auckland motorway, a 15 min drive from Mangere and across from "Rainbows End" theme park, hence the tall towering ride in the pic.

Some may remember this venue as once being the Village 6/8 movie theatre which opened in the 1980s and then when the Manukau Shopping complex was renovated in the early 2000s with movies within the shopping complex, it became the "Dream centre" for Christian church groups and a wedding/funeral/seminar venue but now it has a new lease on life housing our new church premises for the South Campus with Central and North Campuses still growing.

In fact, it's a month of celebrating with many activities and theme nights, some that I'll be attending and will keep posting on Facebook and blogging about them in case there are many who would like to attend ie.

  • Sun 19 June: Cultural lunch & Family fun afternoon with a 12.30 pm start of $3 lunches experiencing the taste of authentic Pacific, Maori, Asian, Indian and South African cuisine
  • Sun 26 June: Movie night of "Three Wise Cousins" block buster movie of Samoan cousins a definite must for me and my family!
  • Wed 22 June: State of Origin - Game 2 on big screen for all those State of Origin Rugby league fans out there
And the list goes on. Just check out: for more information. It's gonna be a good one...

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Victim statement with profound impact in US rape case...

This week, in the US, there has been a lot of media coverage of the outrage of thousands of people regarding the a case between a "Jane Doe" rape victim and a now convicted college student with a background of having a sports (potential Olympic swimmer) scholarship with a prestigious university and a family with presumably $ connections who were able to acquire the services of a powerful attorney and judge who collectively gave the convicted rapist a light sentence of 6 months jail term in a county jail for which he might only have to serve 3 months for good behaviour.

When I first read about the case on the news and Facebook articles, I thought it sounded like a TV movie often seen on US themes and society, however, this particular crime has hit the heartland of America in the inconsistencies that it has regarding the rights of women; the advantages or injustices of "white" money, power and influence and a similar case of an African American man who earlier faced a similar trial but was sentenced to a mandatory 15 years in prison.

However, it was the 'impact statement' that I read which made a great impact on me, in the victim's ordeal in the statement of what she went through and having been exposed, in many ways, to the ridicule of the American justice system and what she has had to experience. I would recommend for people to read it, although it is of a graphic nature and not something to be read lightly but has rung true with many rape victims around the world and her life will be forever changed.

She is the true hero of the story, in exposing what she should never have had to go through as well as the two graduate cyclists who rode past the scene, in realising that she wasn't moving, tackled the now convicted rapist as he tried to run away from the scene of the crime and held him until the police came. With a jury of 12 people who unanimously agreed to his guilt on 3 counts, he definitely should have gotten a longer sentence.

There are a lot more details regarding this case with the crime scene set around the background of a College party with plenty of alcohol available and with the victim loosing consciousness and memory to then be confronted with the scene of waking up in a hospital with details of what happened to her. I can only pray for the victim, her family and friends that somehow, something good will eventually come to her as a result of this horrendous crime on her life and those of her loved ones. Something to not take lightly...

Monday, 6 June 2016

Serenity prayer... for courage and wisdom...

This Queen's birthday weekend I've spent with my family enjoying time together and marveling in answered prayer as my Granma, who was very ill, is now slowly recovering and a miracle to see her doing much better than expected. For me, it showed that prayers can be answered in the most difficult of situations, that's not to say that we're not going to die but it's more of wanting to spend time together with those we love.

So it's been a neat time to spend with my parents home from Samoa and family who flew in from Samoa, Australia and different parts of the world and NZ to see Granma. Many flying back last week and this week to their beloved homes and loved ones, and surprised at the turn of events.

And the serenity prayer came to mind as a prayer that reminds us that there are some things that we cannot change no matter what but that there are some things that need to be changed and we need courage to be change agents in those matters but also that wisdom is needed in times when we aren't so sure about what the outcome might be.

I must say that this last week gave me time for soul searching and reflection as to God's timing for my Granma as it probably did for most my family. I guess you don't really know how precious someone is and how we take often take it for granted that we will live forever until we are called to someone's funeral.

So today, I am most grateful for being a part of a wonderful family who love and care for each other and especially to a God who answers prayer in a very real way. It also reminds me of my 'Thankful Journal' which I started last month in which I list 3 different things that I'm thankful for each day and it's really helping me to count my blessings every day. Maybe it's something that you might like to try as well...

Friday, 3 June 2016

Congratulations on my lil' sis' Maria's graduation...

My sister's graduation with our dad in the middle and me.
Congratulations on my lil' sis who graduated this week with a Certificate in Social Services (level 4) upon which she then enrolled into a Bachelor of Social Work (Year 1) of a 4 year degree here at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

She was amazing last year in that I expected her to cruise in that she was already capable of starting a degree but because of the prerequisites, she still needed to complete a level 4 (which to me is much easier than NCEA level 3) although the content is much more interesting.

Well, she really applied herself and made great grades and won the respect and friendship of her peers although many are much older and mature in their life experiences. But so neat that she has now found her pathway into supporting others and I wish her well in her future endeavour which she tells me includes a Masters degree and Doctoral studies (I must have rubbed off on her :)

It's something that my parents were very aware of when I was really small, in that both my parents saw the value of education and really impressed upon us as children that it was very important to do well in school as it would open opportunities for us in the future and they were quite right. I thank God for neat parents who were both very supportive in my educational efforts and who understood the value of education and what it can do for families.

I continue to want to learn as much as I can but then to also pass it on, whether it be in the form of writing books or teaching classes or talking with people on Radio or face to face - it's about paying it forward so that others may learn to. It's also important for me to also pass on to my children so that they can learn from my mistakes and enjoy the opportunities that God has to offer in life lived well...