Friday, 31 March 2017

The "fun" in Fun Run ...

It was neat to visit my children at their school and to witness their Fun run which was a fundraising event for a snow camp for the seniors later on in the year. It was interesting because as a Dean (back in the day) we would organise a variety of different events and I find myself, as I go to different schools, critiquing the various events being organised and I have to stop myself but every now and then I do make my thoughts known if I think that it would help.

My poor lil' one fell down and I realise that this really had to do with not being familiar with the route as I witnessed many little ones falling down in their attempt to finish the circuit quickly but not really knowing where to run to. Perhaps having a slow walk around the route prior to the race would have helped them to be a little more familiar with less anxiety about when this would end.

In the end, the 3 winners didn't really reflect the true completion of the course as classes were staggered in their release to start the race so that those who first left had a 5 - 10 minute lead in time and I watched as many little ones took short cuts in not really knowing where too next.

What also was funny was watching the amount of teachers standing by the side line whereas it would have been neat to see them participating as many did in walking the track. I also thought that I should have joined except that I was wearing the wrong shoes that would have ended up muddied from the field before returning to back to work.

So where was the "fun" in the Fun run? I think it was after the race was run when the children got to eat their iceblocks and sausage sizzle when it was all said and done. And after having to placate my child into staying on and not returning home with me early because she did suffer a fall but the fun is in learning to laugh it off, dusting yourself off and continuing on with the journey, even if it isn't fun at the time...

Monday, 27 March 2017

Auckland Council Demographic Advisory Panel - Pacific Peoples...

Image result for auckland council pacific peoples advisory panel Earlier this year, I put my name forward to be nominated on the Mangere - Otahuhu community board, however, I was unsuccessful and it was a big learning curve for me in terms of local community politics. Not sure that I'd do it again but it was an eye-opener.

A few months later, when I was out and about with my class on researching Indigenous topics at the South Auckland research library, I came upon an advertisement advertising for local community representation on the Auckland council demographic advisory panel and in particular the Pacific peoples panel.

I put in my application but wasn't too sure about it. The funny thing was going to the interview in town and thinking that I remembered where in Town but I had gotten the number wrong and went to 35 Albert Street instead of 135 but then remembered to check my data and got there just in time for the interview as I'd left early and although a little flustered at having to run around. It was all good.

At the interview, some very pertinent questions were asked where I went blank and could have kicked myself as I remembered the answers later. I was told that there were originally 60 applicants that were shortlisted to 12 and then only 8 would be accepted for the positions. I thought that I was probably one of the 4 left behind as I hadn't answered as best as I had in other interviews.

Happily I will be accepting the appointment as I received word today that I was one of the successful applicants. It is a 3 year tenure, to 2019, and I must admit that I have purposely not sort to go on boards such as these as I've always wanted to support local schools and local initiatives but now it's about sharing some of the experiences that I've been blessed with in larger forums but also keeping balanced in being open to learn along the way.

For me, again it's about advocating for Maori and Pasifika perspectives and peoples, and having studied demographics for Geography back in my Uni days, it's about time I started putting some of that knowledge and experience to the test and supporting our local communities at a wider scale.

It was also be good to support the work of councillors Efeso Collins (a student at the high school that I taught at when I first started teaching) and Alf Filipino, a councillor of some 14 years. Our inaugural induction will be at the Auckland Town Hall next month, where I had graduated from, back in the day and watched classical music concerts and it will be another big learning curve for me...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Reading "Sina and the Eel"...

"Sina and the Tuna" bottom right corner shelf and another re-telling top shelf second from left
Yesterday, as I was awaiting to have my Dentist appointment having arrived early, I decided to hop into another library to have a look around and read some books. I found a Pasifika book to read and went to a reading corner and became engrossed in reading.

Whilst I was there, I heard a little girl of about 5 - 7 years old reading in Samoan to her grandmother. When I heard the word "Sina" I looked up to see what book she was reading saw that she was reading the book that my husband and I worked on.

It brought tears to my eyes as I saw her reading to her nana in Samoan and then reading the facing page in English as her grandmother corrected her when she needed support. I thought to myself about how this was why I had wanted to write these books to encourage future generations to continue in the knowledge of our ancestors and for people of other cultures to also share in this special knowledge.

I thought about asking for a picture but then decided against it as I didn't want to intrude in this special moment that she was spending time together in an activity with her grandmother. I also marvelled at her being bilingual at such a young age to be able to read in both Samoan and English and this made me very happy.

After she left with her Grandmother, I went to see where she had left the book and found it on the library bookshelf in the Pasifika young children's section. I took a pic and then saw another book of the same story in English only and proceeded to read it.

The sad thing for me was that it was written as part of a series, a year after our book was released, some important information had been left out and some artistic license had been used to alter the story somewhat so that the crucial information that I had known in growing up and studying this story, was somewhat lost although the illustrations were neat.

It reminded me of how, as indigenous writers, we need to be very careful of these precious stories and information that needs to be written carefully so that future generations are aware of the nuances and the meanings behind these stories. I will forever be grateful of these opportunities of re-telling our stories but am also mindful of the responsibility that I take as an indigenous writer to keep as close to the original motifs of the story as possible...

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Soccer season is here...

Soccer season is upon us and now taking our youngest to train in her very first "official" soccer club just as her elder siblings did. Unfortunately, I'm not the netball mad mom as I know others of my colleagues are, instead because I enjoyed playing soccer in high school as well as Badminton, swimming, Basketball and Softball, I tend to take my children to sports that I don't mind hanging out at.

It's so much fun in watching so many different cultures of soccer mad dad's and mum's congregating each Wednesday after school and work and next week with competition games starting. Even the coaches are often parents as well as the managers sharing the load and love of the game.

I've decided not to take up any roles except for a supportive one and can just go and relax and enjoy watching the children running around and trying to navigate their way around the goal, other children's legs and in keeping up with the ball.

Being in a Soccer is neat too, in that a child must learn to kick the ball without using their hands and working together as a team with parents supporting and encouraging other children within the team too. There's a real real feeling of congeniality and we get to learn different personalities of the team players. A neat experience for all...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Life lessons with cute kittens...

Our newest family member is called "Snuggles" she is a little kitten whose mother lived at my work place where one of my colleagues fed it but upon leaving last year for a new job, he wasn't able to take care of it and others stepped in and looked after it but over the holidays it gave birth and this is the gift that I promised my lil' one for her birthday and yesterday she received it for looking after.

I was brought up with cats and kittens and it was my job as a youngster to ensure that the cats were fed and I even remember counting up to 12 cats/kittens at one stage when I was young. Many families would often ask to take kittens to their families as companions and very good mouse catchers too.

Over the years we'd get gifts of dead mice, birds and others so we'd often buy little collars with bells to protect any birds. As I got older we also looked after dogs. Two of whom I'll never forget both turned 16 years old each before they died. "Sinbad", a german shepherd/Alsatian and "Beauty" our Samoyd like dog. Both were family members and we mourned when they died.

There are so many lessons learned for young ones once we bring pets into their lives, lessons like feeding, cleaning, toileting, responsibility, looking after, naming and caring for other lives apart from themselves.

It's fascinating again to see the joy that such creatures bring but also the sense of responsibility for our little ones when they realise that although kittens can be cute and bring about a sense of fun and initial excitement that there are many things that also need to be done to ensure that they are cared for responsibly and that's another lesson that we can pass on to our children in living beyond themselves...

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Autumn is here...

Image result for autumn new zealand Hard to believe that summer is well and truly over, probably only had less than a month of true summer weather, and now we are into early autumn in the Southern Hemisphere whilst I see lots of Spring bunny weather in the Northern hemisphere.

The mornings are much darker at 6.30 am when it used to be bright and the nights are beginning to lengthen. Found myself closing the bedroom windows that once let the cool summer breeze in due to the wind beginning to cool at nights.

Even the clothes in department stores are turning wintry and I'm already missing the tropical summer breeze although I do hear the occasion cicadas singing their last summer songs when there is a bout of sun out.

So with daylight savings starting in a couple of weeks time, at least there is a saving grace in that we will be able to sleep in a hour longer. Going to also miss my folks as the fly out in the next couple of weeks to escape NZ's wintry blast that's set to start sometime soon and back to tropical Samoa.

And as some of my family look forward to winter with its rainy nights and sipping hot chocolate blanketed in a warm cosy duvet, I'll miss not having to wear the layers and balmy nights but I do look forward to that extra hour of sleep in that winter brings....

Melvin Adams - ex Globe Trotter motivational speaker....

Image result for melvin adams wikipedia
Melvin Adams, ex-Globe Trotters now motivational speaker
 I remember meeting another athlete some 20+ years ago, as in Melvin Adams, who had come to Auckland to play basketball for Waitakere in the 1990s and I met him as a Christian motivational speaker at the school that I was teaching at.

We got on well as we talked about our different dreams and goals for him to be a professional basketball player and when he returned back to the States we lost contact but I remember how funny he was and how youth enjoyed listening to him where he could really connect well with them.

Since returning to USA, he turned pro and even more neat was the fact that his dream came true in becoming a Harlem Globetrotter and he was able to travel around the world to share his basketball talent and story about overcoming huge difficulties to become the man that he is today.

He is now a motivational speaker who talks all over the States to youth using his comedy which is still funny to listen to and he has listeners laughing at many of his jokes although some can also be offended by him but it's not meant to be.

I remember, as a teacher and being a Dean at a High school, that not everyone could hold the attention of youth and that sometimes it's that special speaker who can speak and identify with youth issues and to have some fun along the way that would bring smiles to many faces.

Such a blessing to have met this man and to know that his dream came true as a pro Bball player who is now encouraging many more youth through his message to never give up and to overcome adversity through believing in a God who cares as he does too. I neat inspiration...

Sunday, 19 March 2017

David Tua Infamous Samoan boxer...

Image result for david tua
David Tua - Samoan boxer and motivational speaker
It was neat to see David Tua yesterday whilst out shopping for a birthday gift for my little one. (Forgot to ask for a shot together as don't take my mobile phone around with me). It was neat to briefly catch up in that so much has happened in both our lives as I first remember my dad being interested in David when he first started making a name in boxing, as my dad had been a boxer (interested) back in his day, and as David's parents went to the same church that we did, my dad asked me to accompany him to the airport so that he could be of prayer support to David when he first went overseas and that's when I first met him.

I also remember when his first manager, Lou Duva, after he turned pro, came to the church with an entourage of spar partners etc. and announced to the congregation from the pulpit that he was going to take "our boy" to the top and he wasn't joking as we witnessed David going from strength to strength. It was only earlier this month that I learnt that his mentor died at 94 after being hailed in the US Hall of Fame for his time as a manager in the 1980s - 1990s.

As far as I'm aware, he was the first Samoan boxer who paved the way and made it big for Samoan/NZ boxing. Up until then it was only the US boxers and European boxers who had made it big. I remember I had a boxing mad teacher in Intermediate school (Middle school) who took our class to the city so that we could watch the first "Rocky" movie when it first came out and somehow got a black and white portable TV into the class so that he and other teachers and boys could watch the Mohammed Ali fight back in 1977.

Even my dad is a die-hard Rugby and Boxing fanatic and he watched very closely as many Samoans did as David made his way right up to fighting for the Heavy Weight championship belt of the world and just fell short. Still he kept alive the dreams and goals of many that a small nation of NZ and an even smaller nation of Samoa could bring such a dream to fruition.

As with every amazing climb there were times of hardship and when reading in the paper that his trainer/manager who is now Joseph Parker's,current WBO heavyweight champion, trainer/manager, ended up in court, I couldn't help but feel for him in being short changed out of what should have set him up for life.

I'll never forget how David, upon my invitation, came to the high school that I was teaching at and inspired the pupils through an inspirational speech and in giving away pics of himself and it was so neat that the students could identify with his journey back then and I will always be grateful to him for that. I also understand that he is still working with youth and even was in Samoa sharing his testimony as a Christian and is happily married to Helen (an amazing name!) ha ha whom he is blessed with.

All the best David and look forward to what the future holds for you and your family. Looking forward to reading that book, or watching that movie trailer as I think God hasn't finished with you yet and has a special story to share of your experiences being an inspiration for others to learn from. Ia manuia...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Happy 6th Birthday to our lil' one
Wishing our youngest a very happy birthday as she awaits to enter "Rainbow's End" theme park with her dad which has rides and fun things to do that a lil' princess would love spend with her dad. Even had their lunch and drinks sorted so that they entered in at 10 am and then returned at 5 pm when it closed.

And just down the road at the Superbowl (former Velodrome) was the "Polyfest" 2017 with many high school students from all over Auckland dressed up in their Pasifika cultural dance attire where we saw many Pasifika students wearing Samoan puletasi, Tongan taovala and many others heading back from a full on last day of the Cultural festival.

We then headed back to Genghis for dinner with my folks from Samoa and had a wonderful time together sharing a meal and laughing together as well as taking photos of the evening. It was a neat time with our lil' one to share with 3 generations so much so that as soon as we got home she headed for sleep.

Really appreciate these times together with family where we can share and give thanks for the times that we are able to spend together when living so far apart. It helps us to appreciate one another more and it was neat to hear our lil' one deliver her own "thank you" speech.

May God's blessings be upon our little ones that as they grow, that they learn to appreciate these special times together. Go well on your journey and God bless always...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Polyfest 2017 (Polynesian Festival)....

Image result for polyfest 2017 Polyfest (Polynesian Festival) 2017 is on again for the 42nd year, so I'm told. I still remember the early days when only a few schools were involved back in the 1970s and my school, being one of the first multicultural schools, was also involved.

However, I didn't participate due to my father's emphasis on academic success plus that fact that we often rehearsed and performed various cultural dances at church growing up so it wasn't such a big thing for us. 

Now, I see how important this festival is for those who have been brought up in Auckland but often may only speak English at home but have Pasifika ancestry/blood ties through parents/grandparents etc. It's also neat for those who aren't of Pasifika ancestry but who would like to learn the dances, this also gives them the chance too and often you'll see different cultural mixes in the dances.

The Polyfest boasts at being the largest festival of it's kind in the world. With 5 stages of: Maori, Samoan, Cook Islands, Niuean, Tongan and a diversity stage. The festival starts with the ceremonial Maori powhiri (welcoming ceremony) opening which occurred yesterday with Auckland mayor, Phil Goff, addressing the attendees and declaring it to start for another year.

The festival takes place over 4 days and each culture has specific performance times and specific dances to perform. The competition is fierce in some instances with bragging rights and a trophy for the winning school. The other neat thing is that you can also get performing arts/dance credits which is also a plus.

But not all the stages are competitive as there is also a non-competitive section and the diversity stage where schools are able to share other dance groups such as the Indian, 

The festival takes place in the Manukau Sportsbowl and each stage is strategically placed so that people can bring along mats, lavalava etc. to sit down and view. There are also lots of Pasifika and other ethnic food stalls, educational stalls, clothing etc. doing promos and advertising for youth and families to have a look at their wares.

The sponsors are even competitive with Universities and many tertiary institutes sponsoring stages and Te Wananga o Aotearoa, my place of work, is also one of the major sponsors. So good to know that this festival is still growing from strength to strength even to the point where there is now a Maori school's festival in which kura (Maori schools) get together to perform and compete.

And so the heartbeat of the Pacific continues to be shared through song and dance, staging and rehearsing, sharing our Pasifika myths and legends for the next generations. With much more to come...

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Pop-Up Globe Theatre, Ellerslie, Auckland
 Had a great time with my two eldest at the Pop-Up Globe theatre last night in watching the evening show of "Much Ado About Nothing" one of Shakespeare's comedies as I had wanted to watch "Othello" having studied it at Uni but with tickets selling fast thought to go to a comedy instead to check out the staging etc.

We were in for a treat as the theatre mirrors closely what the staging must have been like for the original Globe theatre in English back in the 1600s when Shakespeare was at his height. There were about four tiers of seating, starting with comfortable right at the top with a bird's eye view, then seats with backs and those with no backs right down to the standing room at the very bottom which they called the "groundlings" on the tickets. Very much to do with English socio-economic structures back in the day.

The play itself was surprisingly with many Pasifika themes: one of the main characters was Samoan  who spoke Samoan, at times, and only those of us who were Samoan could laugh at what he said and the other main character was Tonga who danced a special Tongan dance at the wedding. They also incorporated machetes, live banana trees as props, the women wore Pasifika type jewellery with shells and seeds/beads. Feathered headdress which very much reminded me of Samoan tuiga that women would wear for special occasions.

We constantly laughed and there was a lot of audience interaction although there was one character who I thought went overboard and we'd cringe whenever he went into the crowd. But a really neat evening and brought back memories of when I used to write, director and produce high school plays and with the launch of my first Shakespearean adaption of "A Midsummer Night's dream", I am thinking of adapting one of his tragedies to a Pasifika setting as well in the near future.

I would highly recommend watching one of these plays whilst the season is still on and am contemplating to go again and watch one of the tragedies and possibly to see "Othello" and how the play is translated into the pop-up Globe theatre. Never a dull moment...

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Weather warning ...

Image result for weather warning Although I love rainy nights and being all snug and cosy inside whilst it's raining outside, this weather warning and associated Civil Defense and police warnings have been very interesting to listen to, particular that in some parts of NZ this is a 1 in 10 year occurrence or in some it's a 1 in 100 year occurrence.

So this particular rainy season is not your usual first sign of autumn rain but is a very precipitous rain in a short time period, which yesterday meant seeing flooding around the area with drains bursting and people having to wade through different areas - or even water boarding.

So have been warned to keep headlights on when driving and watching distance and speed between cars with slippery road conditions in some areas. It's definitely got me rethinking any weekend travelling that I was planning on as some roads are quite hazardous to drive on.

So be safe whilst out there this weekend as hopefully the new week will bring in some sunshiny weather before the cold sets in...

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The benefits of being multilingual...

Image result for multilingual One of the many things that I have learnt in my educational journey so far that being able to speak more than one language has it's definite benefits and being able to speak more than two adds to those benefits.

Growing up in my earlier schooling, there were a lot of racist attitudes towards language and culture which I think has been addressed in some cases but not all. It's so neat to now have schools teaching the two official languages of New Zealand as English and Maori as well as community languages such as the Pacific languages i.e. Samoan, Tongan, etc. and International languages such as French, Mandarin, German etc.

Ideally, I child should be able to learn English as well as Maori and their cultural language or an international language. The benefits of this is that English is the language of International communication for many Western countries, Maori is the language of the first peoples nations or tangata whenua of New Zealand and learning your heritage or cultural language assists in cultural identity and self esteem.

In being able to speak at least three languages, gives access to differing world views, ideas, philosophies and paradigms. I know this in having learnt Samoan as a child and growing up but being schooled in English and then picking up some Maori literacy informally in my place of work.

Each language holds important keys to the philosophies of each culture and ways of thinking that are often very different from each other and I feel privileged to have had this understanding and exposure to different worldviews.

As it's been said that you can't be bicultural/multicultural if you are monolingual meaning that if you only speak one language, often English, then in a sense you are limited in your understanding of what it means to be able to converse, walk, learn in a bicultural or multicultural setting. Something that we should definitely be encouraging in our children and our children's children etc....

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Moana's song "How far I'll go"...

Absolutely loved this song when I first watched it in Fiji and it's funny how I hear adults playing it in cars when I'm driving or I hear my children humming it or when I'm walking through someplace and someone's playing it.

The neat thing is that it's a song that resounds with many different people. How there's a longing to know what's beyond the reef but being told that it's a dangerous place and it's best not to go there but when I think about the pioneers of the Pacific who first ventured out to set sail to new islands, it would have been with an opposite spirit of wanting to see what's out there - of having an adventurous spirit.

I think that pioneering spirit was one that my parents engraved into me when they first ventured away from their island homes to seek a "better" future with much more opportunities than they believed their island homes offered. That same pioneering spirit encouraged me to see how far I could go in my studies and I'm still sailing that canoe today.

It was the same spirit that encouraged me to learn to paddle in an outrigger (waka ama) firstly with Manukau Outrigger club back in the day and then with Tamaki but due to work commitments, I wasn't able to continue but still enjoy watching it and am encouraging my own children to give it a go too.

It's the same pioneering spirit that I think Pasifika people need to have today in finding out about what is beyond that "reef" in our lives that stops us from seeking that potential or God given gift that we've been given. I feel really privileged that I'm doing what I enjoy doing through painting and writing beyond work and family commitments to making a contribution to our society (however small) that is a legacy that will live beyond me.

I hope that you will see how far you will go and start paddling beyond that reef - you'll never know until you try and try until you succeed...

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Metro article 1983...

A pic of me featured in a Metro magazine article, 1983
In visiting Auckland City library I mentioned (last blog) remembering that whilst I was on the second floor looking through the Research centre, that I was reminded that I had not kept a copy of an article written in a magazine that highlighted problems within my high school at the time and that had featured a photo of me.

At the time, my high school was toted as the first multicultural school in the country which was opened in 1976, and by 1983, I had already spent five years at the school. The "experiment" I guess was around the fact that it was a newer suburb in those days and many immigrant families were moving into the area (although we had already been there some 17 years) and the school, at the time, was a space open to new migrant youth of the families.

At the time, glue sniffing and other solvents was a big problem as there weren't many amenities available for youth in the area. But the new pools opened later in that year with a gym which was to assist with sports but it didn't really.

In my final year at high school, I remember wanting to follow my sister's footsteps to Uni. She was a year ahead and was interested in studying law. That particular photo of me was taken in the library whilst I was busy studying which wasn't the norm for a lot of students at the time as I remember always frequenting the library to get extra work done in trying to finish assignments etc.

The cameraman and reporter must have thought it quite interesting that amongst all the controversy over the school, at the time, that here was a studious senior who didn't much care about what was going on around but was busy studying towards goals and dreams.

I shared this pic with my students yesterday and laughed with them that here I am still after 30+ years still studying but now on an overdue Doctoral thesis that I should have finished years ago. It's a reminder of a young woman who had goals and dreams and didn't let the things around her deter her from seeking success for the future. For that, I will always commend her :)

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Changing face of Auckland CBD... and me...

IMG_9149 Today, I went into Auckland CBD Central Business District to go to an appointment (but that's another blog) and to also check at the Auckland City library's research centre that I'll be taking my class to on Saturday. That was after having a quick drive around to look for parking - big mistake as it's certainly not cheap to park in the city.

Anyway, as I was walking down to Queen Street, the first thing I noticed was a lot of road works all over the main roads and after searching for my favourite eatery back in my Uni days in the 1980s i.e. "Middle Eastern Cafe" I realised that it was no longer there and was replaced by an Asian food place. So sad as over the years I would drop in to have a swarma, take family members and remember my good old Uni days but now...

On Queen Street I also saw a big change and that of a 4 movie/theatre block that I would attend movies in the 1980s (pic above) are now being demolished to make way for a big 30+ floors apartment development. Another sad fact of the changing face of Auckland city.

Upon going for a short tour of Auckland library's research centre on the 2nd floor of the library (I would sometimes frequent that library in my Uni days) the librarian showed me some old magazine hardbound books and I remembered an article that was written about my last year at my high school and found it archived featuring a picture of me studying in the library. It was such a surprise to see as I had remembered it as being quite different but neat as I will now add it to my own archives.

The interesting thing about the picture was that it recorded a time and a place that I remembered about having dreams and studying hard towards that goal. I do remember the library was where I spent a lot of time reading, writing, reflecting and it assisted in making my dreams come true. Now some 30+ years later, in seeing that magazine photo I see how the hard work paid off and now I'm able to assist in making other peoples dreams come true through succeeding in education...