Saturday, 23 July 2016

Fale o Samoa, Samoa House...

Last weekend, the "Fale o Samoa" or Samoa House was officially open. Many dignitaries including the Prime Minister of Samoa was there to officiate the occasion with Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland.

From a Tagata whenua (indigenous people of the land - Maori, Tainui) such an occasion begins with a dawn ceremony with a spiritual opening before the festivities proper begin.

This weekend, I'll be taking my first class of Indigenous Research(ers) on a quick fieldtrip to view the visual icon after "reading the visual landscape" of the buildings that we will be learning at.

The location of this "fale" is actually on a rather busy intersection right next to the shopping complex and is an awesome building to behold. The only problem I see is the sloping carpark and a malae (front lawn area) missing where usually speeches would be part taken in.

It's actually changed the landscape of this particular area as I look forward to being able to update my Samoan passport (in being dual citizen) of both NZ and Samoa.

And I hope that there is someone to explain to me why the roof of the "Fale o Samoa" is a dome as I have my own explanation....

Certificate in Indigenous Research (level 4) starting this weekend....

Since the term started last week, I have been so busy with getting the children started in their second semester at school, getting assignments sent out and getting ready for teaching my first "noho" (Marae styled block course teaching/learning) for this weekend at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Mangere campus, that I haven't had much time to blog in my quiet frenzy.

I now have some 26 students enrolled in the Certificate in Indigenous Research, a fees free 36 week course with boxes of resources needed to be given out. The neat thing is being able to explore and share ideas, thoughts and experiences in a safe environment. The 8 modules that we'll be covering includes the following topics:

  1. Intro to Maori Issues in Research
  2. Intro to Indigenous Issues in Research
  3. Research Responsibility
  4. Western Research Practice
  5. Identifying the Research Question
  6. Knowledge Banks
  7. Research Outcomes
  8. The Research Journey.
Really looking forward to this time next week as the planning for the lessons is over 3 day sessions with so much to cover in so short/long a time. I feel really privileged to be in this space and thank God for this opportunity to be able to share and learn with students at the same time. 

The style of teaching will be very different from the ways that I was taught back as an undergraduate at Auckland University back in the 80s with huge classes of hundreds of students in a big lecture theatre (first year Geography) with a lecturer usually reading out notes for an hour whilst I hurriedly scribbled out notes echoing what was said.

No, my classes will be very different in a small class with lots of discussion, more personal, holistic and taking into consideration the backgrounds of Maori, Pasifika and other ethnicities. For some students they have already expressed an interest in learning about researching their whakapapa (family genealogy), others it's to pathway into degree programmes (for which I've been supporting the last few years) and for others it's about pathwaying into the Masters programme i.e. Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge (levels 8 - 9) for which I am supervising 2 students.

So looking forward to this new journey and no doubt will be sharing some highlights along the way... 

Last days of the school holidays...

These last two weeks for the school holidays have gone past so fast and have been so busy with the changes with work, my studies, writing and the conference etc. that I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted to with my special ones.

The good thing was that they were able to spend time with my folks, their grandparents, before my parents flew back to Samoa last week and I really appreciated the time I was able to spend on completing projects whilst my parents enjoyed their grandchildren sleeping over and assisting with chores etc.

So it was neat to have my beloved and their father take time out to spend with them and we were able to go to the movies to watch "Dory" although I didn't think that it was as good as "Saving Nemo." (Hence the pic above at the movie theatre with our youngest posing next to life size "Ninja Turtles".) They also got to walk up Mangere Mountain and went to the swimming pools whilst I was able to take them shopping.

And looking forward to the next holidays... roll on Christmas!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Looking forward to another weekend...

Due to my busyness with work, I haven't been able to blog much this week but have been able to celebrate some milestones in now having been approved to start my new job as kaiako (tutor) for the Certificate in Indigenous research course (level 4) that is in it's inaugural year to start next semester and I'm really excited to see this happen plus a new direction in my teaching.

I also forgot to post up the pics that I took in Wellington in having had a bit of time between the conference speakers to visit Te Papa Museum with the Peter Jackson War Memorial larger than life size statues that looked so real; I visited the waterfront markets; and got to have a walk around the city looking for the Warehouse for our "Space Odyssey" themed dinner. Not to mention the gigantic eagle and model of Gandelf (the grey wizard) suspended from the ceiling of Wellington's airport.

Now I can relax for another weekend before school starts for the children and my new contract in teaching starts again. And I can also celebrate reaching 15,000 hits on this blog although that's a conservative amount in comparison to other blogs that hit that stat per day. And have also submitted my second assignment for my NCALNE (National certificate in adult literacy and numeracy education) and still working on my Educational doctorate.

Never a dull moment... roll on the Weekend!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Working in windy in Wellington...

Image result for positively wellingtonIt's neat flying into Wellington after having been away for a while in remembering the time I used to work on Ministry of Education contracts and flying down for work every once in a while. The weather certainly hasn't changed as I can actually feel the colder nip in the air as compared to Auckland but as the 'Arts capital of NZ', it still lives up to that reputation with Fine Arts Galleries, Theatres, and Museums all over the nations capital.

And the neat thing about attending this Education conference is that I have come as a group of four trustees and we get to bounce off ideas and share in informed discussions about things happening in schools for our children. In reflection, in the two seminars that I attended so far today, both speakers had "children at the heart of the matter" and that was in the 'Student achievement' seminar and also in the 'Vulnerable children's Act' seminar.

As there is another full day of seminars to look forward to, I realise even more the special role that Boards of Trustees play in ensuring the children are always first and foremost in decisions being made in schools (from a perspective of Governance) that will affect children in their achievement, their wellbeing and their future focus etc. It's certainly been reassuring to hear that children/young adults are still most important and should be at the forefront of all discussions ...

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

NZSTA Boards of Trustees Conference 2016...

Image result for nzsta conferenceLooking forward to flying out to Wellington this weekend for the annual NZSTA (New Zealand Schools Trustees Association) conference for Boards of Trustees members in Schools etc. throughout New Zealand.

I've been on various Boards of Trustees for several schools over the years since being involved in education and I've witnessed a lot of different practices as a Board member in the relationship between Boards and Principals/senior managers and in understanding the need to be able to connect with Maori and Pasifika families in schools whose senior Principal/s are often predominantly of European ethnicity. Although this is slowly changing in areas with high populations of Maori and Pasifika students.

For me, this weekend will be about updating my knowledge on some of the new initiatives that the Ministry of Education focusing on and also what the expectation for Boards are. A couple of years ago I was asked to consider assisting in the training of Board members but because I'd had a few years off (doing other important things) I turned it down but perhaps may consider it if asked.

I think that trustees in Schools actually do play a very important role in schools as ensuring that schools are carefully managing their resources towards the success of our children in schools. For elected members (like myself) the accountability is also to those who voted me into the position to ensure that the educational needs of the students are being catered for and particularly for those children who are not meeting the "national norms" that they are given adequate assistance.

Aside from that, it will be good to visit windy Wellington again and to ensure to have some R & R and catch up with some old friends and make new friends in ensuring the success of our children in schools...

Monday, 11 July 2016

What would you do?...

Image result for what would you do? Today after going for a quick stop to the local shopping centre for a quick (food) pick up for morning tea, I turned around to take my shopping out the door when I witnessed a scuffle between two young men (probably in their twenties) turn into an all out punch up. I quickly turned back and asked in the shop for where the Security patrol were, as I'd left my mobile phone in the car, and then ran to find them not 100 metres away. They were oblivious to the fight and quickly followed me to where the two were.

By the time we found them, the two were now exchanging verbal abuse at each other and both walking in opposite directions. I'm sure Security probably didn't get involved as now, it was after the fact, and one was an older/mature man and a woman. I then decided to return to my car as the fight was over and Security could now take over.

I think what disturbed me was that there were a lot of people who witnessed the incident but didn't get involved because of the level of violence between two men but also because they didn't want anything to happen to their personal safety. I understand that and my own personal safety was prevalent in the decision that I made to get Security but it worries me if people will just stand and watch a violent scene and not doing anything about it.

I hope that that will never happen to any of my close family to friends to just have members of the public watching and not getting help or running for some assistance when violence is occurring in front of them - no matter whose fault it is. I think in my life, I've purposed to do something about it, so that I may not be able to stop a fight but to purpose to do something about it and as I just won't stand there and watch! What would you do?...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Supporting our families at Te Puea Marae....

Image result for te puea marae Had the privilege of going out with some of our work team to support the good work out at Te Puea Marae, in Mangere Bridge today. A very humbling experience and so neat to know that our vulnerable families are being cared for with a lot of support from all over with a big massive thanks to the whanau at Te Puea Marae for doing this wonderful work out in our community.

We were able to going through a brief induction that included an orientation of the area and some of the health and safety expectations (including covered footwear). And then we were off to our stations to help out in sorting out canned goods and bread goods with so much to do and lots of helping hands.

It was also neat to meet up with another church organisation and different businesses lending their support in offering their various services which was so encouraging to see. There were also individual families dropping off goods and from all different walks of life and cultures.

The many homeless families being looked after are given privacy which I think is so important and I learnt that there is now a waiting list of more families seeking for assistance and wanting to also come into the Marae as housing in Mangere has become unaffordable for many with the sky rocking cost of housing.

Coming back to work and then going home, it made me think about how I am grateful to God for provisions and not to take it for granted but to also remember that we should not forget to help those who need that support in our communities...

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Pacific Hibiscus "Sharing our Pasifika stories one book at a time"... (with 7 books and counting)

"Sharing our Pasifika stories one book at a time"
It's been good to reflect on my journey as a writer/author thus far having come a long way and with a few more hurdles to go (Lord willing). I thought to feature the seven books that have been self-published so far to give a bit of a background on each and how it came to being, in chronological (time) order.

Sina and the Tuna (2015) was my first book which combined both painting and writing. In fact, the writing was completed in December 2014 but I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to go about publishing a book until I met with Maria (business mentor) and her conversation with me got me on track. This was the first tala o le vavau (ancient Samoan story) that my parents shared with me when I was very young. And as it was the very first book, it was also the most expensive book to print that almost stopped me from publishing! i.e. expensive format for which I may bring out a second edition.

Mount Vaea and the tears of Apa'ula (2015) was the second bilingual English/Samoan picture book which was a joint collaboration between my beloved husband, Tofilau Fritz, and I. He being, what is often termed, a 'native speaker' and was able to translate both books as although I understand and can converse in Samoan my grammar and writing needs a lot of support. This story was shared with me by the late A'eau Taulupo'o Lafaiali'i whom died this very year before I was able to gift him with copies. This story was collected during my 1989 fieldwork in Falealupo for my Masters in Geography and I will forever be grateful to him.

Maui and Sina (2015) was the first play that I wrote for Tangaroa College in 1994 when I was an English teacher there and was the first of 7 plays that I wrote for schools throughout South Auckland at the time. It was so successful as a play that I just continued to write. It's a story about the migration myth from Hawaiki to the Pacific Islands, to NZ in following the journey of the Siaki Sone family. I collaborated with my eldest child to design the cover.

Tagaloalagi (2015) was the second play that I wrote for Tangaroa College in 1995. In each of the plays, I included a Samoan ancient story to tie to the youth issues that I highlighted which often included conflict between Island born parents values and the new values of their NZ born children. Again, I collaborated with my eldest on the cover design. Note how bright the colours are as it was definitely intentional.

Tagaloalagi and Fue (2015) was launched in Samoa with my parents on my significant birthday and it was a story that my father shared with me during my first Masters studies. I wanted for readers to see that although it wasn't quite the Christian story of the creation of people but that Samoans of old did believe in a omnipotent God although they did not carve images of him as other surrounding Pacific Islands had.

Su'e the lost son (2016) was the third in the trilogy of plays written for Tangaroa College and it was launched in the local youth library just down the road from where I had taught some years before, in fact it was the 20th anniversary of the play that it was published. The storyline was a rather elaborate story based on a Samoan fagogo (Samoan bedtime story) that my mother shared with me about Sina and her many brothers called Tui. The cover design was again a collaborative effort with my eldest.

The footprint of Moso (2016) is now the fourth book in our series of tala o le vavau (ancient Samoan stories) that was re-written and illustrated for a general audience. My family had accompanied me to Samoa for a research and celebratory trip to view the sacred sites in Falealupo. It was a neat family trip but all of us, except for our youngest child, caught the Zika virus (Ouch!) but the story connects Samoa to Fiji and other Pacific/Polynesian Islands with similar stories.

Pacific Hibiscus a poetry collection (2016) soon to be published...

Pacific Hibiscus is also the name of the small publishing company that we hope to grow locally, nationally and globally with the motto of "Sharing our Pasifika stories one book at a time"...

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Friday, 1 July 2016

MIT (Manukau Institute of Business) new campus visit with exhibition space...

Yesterday, I was able to visit MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology) to enrol a prospective student into the new course I hope to be teaching next semester but to also catch up with a colleague of whom I used to go to Auckland Uni with in the department of Geography. That was back in my undergraduate days and it was good to catch up on some of the past students and what they were doing today as well as our old lecturers (most whose names I couldn't remember!)

It was also neat look around the new school of Business on MIT's extended campus out close to Manukau shopping complex and to learn about how many Pacific and Maori students are taking up Business degrees as a career for their future as business would seem to be the way to go with very little money in NZ within the manufacturing industry, like days gone by.

Am hoping to be able to, sometime in the future, link my small publishing business to this school of business as a way to giving students there an internship and some work experience but also for my small fledgling business to one day become global (big pipe dream) in sharing resources globally for any Pacific nation to access.

It was also neat to view their small ground floor exhibition space with a visual story about Manukau and the various icons over the years, from gumboots, to Paris Global and her Nike boots, a rugby jersey of the late Jonah Lomu and much, much more to see. I hope that if the exhibition is still up, that I can take my class to have a look around and to see that there are many things to visit in researching various topics.

All in all, a neat field trip for me and hoping to see many successful businesses home grown in Manukau city in the near future...