Saturday, 29 April 2017

Writing and reflection after procrastinating...

I'm back to writing again after taking some time off to "think" and "reflect" although most of the time I was procrastinating about getting back into the swing of academic writing.

Can't help it as I find the process not as creatively inspiring in having to always reference other writers and constantly checking your train of thought. It can get so heavy that I need to go and paint on canvas, listen to music, watch T.V., play online games or go out to get the creativity flowing again.

Which brings me to this book written by Dr Augustin Kramer back in the early 1900s that I first came across in my earlier Masters studies at Auckland Uni during the late 1980s before the English translation I would read the Samoan stories and then skim over the german writing.

I also remember referring to it in the Nelson Memorial library in Apia when I would go in to write and study during my fieldwork studies in 1989.

Then in the 1990s an English translation was published by University of Hawaii with Dr Theodore Verhaaren as the translator. I could kick myself now because I should have bought myself a copy but due to it being around $100 a copy, I thought that it was steep for one of two volumes and so didn't buy one at the time.

Now, I regret it as it has many important information that would be very helpful for my studies, although I am able to ask to borrow one from a family member. Still, it's not the same as having a couple for myself to refer to.

Now off I go back to the books and reading, re-reading, sorting out information, gathering my thoughts, searching through catalogues, considering, reflecting, questioning, puzzling, it's a never ending exploratory fact finding mission into discovering what it means to be a doctoral student working through various writings to come to conclusions of my own.

And the journey continues...

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Writer's block and music...

Whilst my children are on their second week of school holidays, I find myself distracted from being able to write and research my thesis but then, to be honest, this has been going on for a time so every now and then I need to have either an art release, to paint, or to go outdoors, like the swimming pools today or to another favourite and that's listening to music.

Since the 90s, I've enjoyed Shania Twain's music and especially her song 'From this moment' which was the first waltz song that I choose for our Fiji wedding in 2001 as well as the song 'The Lord is my light' by Adeaze which was the song that we used for walking down the aisle for the bridal party as my beloved sung an original when I walked down the aisle with my parents.

Music has played a significant part in my life, in learning to play guitar, ukalele and sing when I was young and then marrying my beloved who is so talented in playing guitar (fancy chords) both lead and bass, the keyboard/piano, drums he can sing as well and now it's neat to see our children singing playing the guitar, piano, ukalele etc. so that music plays an important part of their lives too. A true gift that is not only lovely to listen to (depending on your taste in music) and it can be spiritually uplifting too.

So when I went to listen to some of Shania Twain's latest music online, I had wondered why for a time she hadn't released any new music and then found out that she had gone through some personal trauma with a divorce and now is remarried, started touring and has a new album to release this year.

In some ways, I feel akin to her, we are around the same age as she is only a couple of months older, I feel I've grown up with her music and like her we all go through personal difficulties in life and she is definitely a fighter to overcome, so similar in not always being so confident but definitely not giving up.

I found a duet that she recorded with Lionel Richie a few years ago of an old favourite song of the 80s from the movie 'Endless love' that I remembered watching and then there was a remake of the movie not so long ago. I like this rendition of the song although I still liked the original too. Enjoy...

Friday, 21 April 2017

What's the big deal about Indigenous Research...

Auckland museum set among reserves and parkland with Auckland city in the background
What's the big deal about Indigenous Research? you might ask. It's really about decolonising our thought processes and allowing for Indigenous world views to be taken into account when discussing, theorising, researching where indigenous communities reside or in relation to.

I remember in my undergraduate days of almost falling asleep in some of my rather 'boring' mundane lectures but when it came to discuss things about culture particularly in anthropology or geography, I woke up and would be really interested in things.

Today, I start my second cohort class for Semester A of teaching in the Certificate of Indigenous Research space with 30+ students and I feel privileged to have this opportunity of not only learning but also teaching the various aspects, principles and objectives of what it means in relation to research and indigenous peoples.

It's also assisted me in considering what I want or need to do in my own research, which as it stands is slowly progressing whilst I ponder on the direction of where to go with this new understanding. What I do know is that I no longer look at education with the same lens that I did when I first graduated from Uni and that's the beauty of still continuing in my studies.

It's interesting to note now that when listening to senior professionals discussing western research worldviews that have always been prevalent and taken for granted as being of high regard that I don't particularly hold that same high regard in that it does put me in a different viewpoint alongside other professionals in understanding things differently now. I won't hold it against them ha ha.

But I will challenge those viewpoints when necessary and ask the questions that need to be asked as those dominant views often need to be challenged and to be accountable for many of the understandings that are quite oppressive to indigenous peoples and to their descendants and that's why Indigenous Research is important to make oppressive ideas transparent so that those views can be challenged and then we can move from those ideals to create creatives solutions for moving forward...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Samoan movies "Fo'i le tama Farmer" (Part 1) without subtitles...

Last night, I watched a Samoan movie called "Fo'i le tama Farmer" (The farmer boy returns) with my beloved which tells the story of a young woman who lives in town (Apia) and visits her biological parents in a village in Savaii where there are two suitors who ask for her hand in marriage, a day after each other.

Over the years, we've watched many Samoan movies much like the Bollywood love stories or Asian dramas but on a smaller scale and budget. It was interesting that this particular drama centred around two suitors: one being a young minister who is looking for a wife to complete and start his ministry and the other a plantation owner and worker who has only a brother and no parents who works his land.

Of course the parents preference is for their daughter to marry the young minister in that the mother proclaims that she will never have to get her hands dirty and it would elevate the position of the family in the eyes of the village and extended family as well as providing a 'sacrifice' for the work of God.

My beloved and I discussed many of the themes that we had seen growing up, his in working on his parents' plantation as a boy and mine in being raised in an urbanised setting yet still being brought up with very traditional Samoan values and language which is why we could laugh and comment on the differences of our worldviews growing up.

For me, the interesting part was seeing the faaSamoa recreated in the movie in that both suitors brought along orators to speak on their behalf in asking the young woman for her hand in marriage. The parents allowed for the girl to speak not knowing that she would reject the young ministers advances in wanting more time to think about it but with the plantation owner, they rejected him and didn't give her a chance to speak.

I think the sad thing about the story, as I discussed with my beloved, was that we know of this happening in some Samoan woman marrying ministers to elevate their families' status and their own which is with their full consent but equally I have known of some who did not want to marry the minister because of the age difference or they were not particularly interested in him but were compelled to because it seemed right in the eyes of the family and blessing that it was believed to be bestowed on her and her family although she might love another.

I think we'll watch Part 2 tonight and see what becomes of the two suitors and I'll laugh and listen to jokes and the Samoan accents of the guys who often get together, in the movie, to discuss how the two are faring in their journeys. Maybe I'll drink some koko Samoa (Samoan cocoa) and eat alaisa faapopo (steamed rice with coconut cream - yum!) and reminisce on my own journey with my Samoan beloved in his ministry...

Friday, 14 April 2017

This Easter Friday, it's been an interesting day in reflecting on how so much in life can change in an instant. The floods that have been affecting Auckland to a lesser extent and has caused a state of emergency in various areas with with flooding and slips in other parts of NZ was unexpected a month ago.

Yesterday, some Universities closed as did some schools, Early childhood centres and even some jobs called for workers to go home early to avoid the mad rush hour as commuters tried to get home whilst others wanted to travel away for the Easter long weekend.

There were lines for public transport as many rushed home and the weather has been quite erratic with beautiful sunshine for some hours followed by pounding rain. It certainly is not the time to be driving for long hours as all I'd rather be doing is staying home with a book, paints or to catch up on sleep.

I'm also, this Easter, looking forward to watching the above movie called "The case for Christ" in which a journalist wants to know once and for all the truth about Jesus Christ or even Christianity which I hope to be taking my family to watch when it comes out.

Early this year, I watched an interview of the author, Lee Strobel and his wife, who talked about his struggle of making sense of his wife's conversion to Christianity especially when he felt quite threatened by seeing the changes in her and he wanted to get to the bottom of it to show her that her faith was based on a hoax.

I'm looking forward to watching this movie as it might answer a lot of the questions that I have asked over the years in my faith and as many people do in solidifying and even questioning whether it is a faith worth dying for as did it's founder, Jesus Christ, some 2000+ years ago.

I think it will be an interesting film for believers, non-believers, skeptics, atheists, agnostics, people of other religions or no religions to watch as to what is at the foundation of Christianity and in what Christians believe. I know that it was also be a movie worth talking about whether or not you believe...

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Farewell to my class of 2016-17 soon to be Graduates...

Was so blessed yesterday to have spent the last night with my first class of soon to be graduates from the Certificate in Indigenous Research course that we ran last year from August.

We shared dinner at a local Asian restaurant and it was good to share memories and have a laugh at different things that had happened throughout the year and to generally relax and take it easy now that all the assignments have been handed in and marked.

That gives me a week to rest up before starting my second cohort which begins in a weeks time and then finishes around Christmas time. Already, I have full class and a waiting list with many wanting to apply for the Masters course with this as a foundation course to start from.

The class also gifted me with this special painting which 'Izy', one of our resident students and emerging young Maori woman artists, painted and with their signatures at the back.

This is particularly of special significance in that I interpreted it as being "Wahine Toa" or in being a strong Maori woman (although I'm SamoaNZ) which I hope I was able to share with my class of some of the attributes of having strength in knowledge and humility and one does not need to amplify oneself above others as we are all gifted and talented in various ways and in trying to be more understanding of each other.

A very humbling experience and also happy to place it in our house in pride of place that tells the story of how one person can make a difference and that each of us has the potential to leave a special legacy for our children and future generations to learn from...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Induction at Auckland Council Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel...

Auckland Town Hall in the foreground where the Induction took place
Yesterday, I attended an inaugural induction for the Auckland Council's Advisory Panels and it was an interesting experience to be a part of.

The meeting took place in the Auckland Town Hall's council chambers (I think that's what it's called) and it was interesting to see structure of the council at work.

The day started with a whakatau (a brief Maori ceremonial welcome) with the speaker identifying Pasifika peoples as 'tuakana' meaning the elder in the relationship in his opening speech. With the right of reply, one member of our Pacific peoples panel replied in te reo Maori (language) and then we supported him in a Samoan pese (song). This was interesting to support.

Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, then opened the day by discussing the various panels and the backgrounds that each panel brings to the discussions and then each panel member was asked to introduce themselves to the big group.

The panels comprise of: Disability, Rainbow, Ethnic, Elderly, Pacific, Youth and Maori have a special seat in relationship to the Treaty of Waitangi and sit outside the panels. It was also good to see the two Pasifika council members as Efeso Collins and Alf Filipaina present as well as other elected councillors who also play a direct role in supporting each panel.

It is a three year term for the panels and in that time the panels are charged with giving effective advice to the Council in terms of the 'expertise' that each panel member brings with them. The Pacific panel comprises of 8 members: there are 2 women and 6 men; 1 Tongan, 1 Tuvalu and 6 Samoan. There is also a Niuean member to come but no Cook Islands representative which is something for the panel to discuss.

I think my presence in the panel is to bring a perspective regarding Indigenous Pasifika views in line with the Treaty partnership that we have with Maori and to keenly support lines of discussion that enhance the wellbeing of all but specifically Maori and Pasifika peoples. I also have a keen interest in supporting educational initiatives as well as the arts and will be interested in the future directions that Auckland is moving towards with its future focus of a 20 - 30 year plan.

There are definitely going to be interesting times ahead, some of which I will be able to discuss in future blogs...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

1 year Cert. in Indigenous research journey...

Image result for te wananga o aotearoa I have had the privilege of working as a kaiako (tutor/lecturer) at Te Wananga o Aotearoa teaching a one year certificate course in Indigenous Research that started last year. Today marks the end of the journey for my first cohort that culminated in a 30+ final presentation on an indigenous topic that each student has undertaken during the year.

It has been such a privilege to walk alongside each personal journey and then to see the completed project/presentation and listen to the life lessons and new learnings has been a real blessing and leaves me very humbled.

I have to thank Te Wananga o Aotearoa as being the first Indigenous institute that I am aware of that allows students to learn about Indigenous Research at a Certificate level rather than to await having to start a degree course before having access to such knowledge and understandings.

It is information that I wished I'd have had before undertaking my undergraduate studies, even into secondary school. In fact, I would challenge any teachers working with children from indigenous backgrounds to take this course of learning because I believe that it will make you a better teacher, a better researcher and have a better understanding of the place of indigenous people in society.

Very often, indigenous peoples have been undervalued, their languages seen as being unimportant and customs and cultures treated as being old fashioned and odd in this so called post modern world. This course affirms the knowledge and place of Indigenous knowledge in society and encourages us to consider the ramifications if we don't pass them on.

My next cohort starts in a couple of weeks time which gives me time to reflect, recover, mark the work and then to start all over again. Definitely, an inspired course that aspires students to affirm indigenous knowledge into it's rightful space...

Friday, 7 April 2017

Mana Mangere Writers' Collective...

Am so happy to announce the formation of our new Mangere writers' group as (working title): Mana Mangere Writers' collective and we are hoping to launch our first collection of short stories and poetry by July of this year.

This book is made possible through the generous support of our local Mangere Otahuhu community board and we thank them for their faith in to giving this group the opportunity to showcase the writing talent that is alive and well in Mangere/Otahuhu.

We have about 8 members in the group and they are from diverse backgrounds: including a member from Mana whenua (indigenous Maori of Ihumatao), Samoan, South African, Niuean, Cook Islands etc. and they either live, work or study in Mangere.

The brief for the book that I will be editing is to share stories that either inspire, encourage or educate the reader and we are hoping to be able to gift it to local high schools and tertiary institutions as well as to have it available in Auckland libraries.

I hope to be featuring the writers on this blog as we continue to develop the ideas and stories for the book with a only a few months before launch. I also hope that it will encourage many other community individuals and groups to reach for their dreams and to keep working toward them...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

First Art Exhibition at Mangere Arts Centre: 27 May to 4 June...

Canvases for 'Sina and the Tuna' that will feature at the exhibition.
It's a real blessing to announce my first art exhibition with workshops that has been possible through the support of the local Mangere Otahuhu local boards. It will be during Samoan language week celebrations of: 26 May to 4 June.

This is a dream come true since primary school and even younger, I've always loved art, be it colouring in or painting etc. Even to the extent of enjoying handicrafts through the creativity shared with me by my amazing mum who was a streamstress, knitter, crocheter extraordinaire and whom I watch creating lovely garments that I and many of our family would get to wear.

So it started at primary school in being singled out as one of two 'artists' in the class whom other kids would ask to draw pictures or borders for title pages.

It then continued to high school where I took art as a subject and all the way through to senior high school and passed my senior year Bursary art course but it wasn't enough to get into art school and the rest, I guess, is history.

But it wasn't over because then a couple of year's ago when I first started thinking about self publishing books, I considered different artists to approach but then decided that I needed to look no further than the mirror (ha ha). Anyway, the first book showed promise but since then it's gone from strength to strength.

The exhibition is of the artworks that I have used for the first 10 books. It also features artworks that I collaborated with other artists to come about and I will be holding workshops during the week for local schools to come share in the journey that I've taken from dreams to reality.

Really looking forward to this event to hopefully pay forward to a local students who have dreams to keep going for them no matter what...

Sunday, 2 April 2017

"Beauty and the Beast" movie review...

I love going to the movies with my family as it's my time out with them to relax and enter into another world to see how it works and what I can learn from it. Yesterday, we went to view "Beauty and the Beast" and I was somewhat surprised that there were bits that were added that weren't in the original.

Some of the funny parts, for me, had to do with the fact that the scene was set in France and Paris in parts but that the actors were mostly with an English accent, the exception being LeFoe, Gaston's side kick. I thought Gaston played the part very well in being the vain villain and reminded me of the original but just not as musclely.

The story in it's totality was nice with the cinematography and scenes that looked beautiful but there were parts of the story that were embellished that I thought didn't really need to be told i.e. the absence of Belle's mother and the continuation of the story of the Enchantress but I guess they were appealing to a more sophisticated audience?

So the story did seem to appeal to a more adult audience (supervising their children) in parts with the suggestion of single sex partnering and cross dressing but it didn't take away from the story which was at best about a daughter's love replacing her father in a prison and a woman who begins to care for a beast/man who saves her life and sets her free after an impossible situation and at worst about a man (Gaston) who wants to win his woman no matter what the cost and a woman who falls for her captor as he begins to treat her well.

All in all, it was interesting to watch and there were some extra songs that they'd also added but weren't as memorable as the original songs. The actors were also well known in their different fields i.e. Kevin Kline who plays the father and Emma Watson who plays Belle although not as "doe" eyed as the Disney original.

I guess, I still like the original movie best still in it's simple story and songs but it was a neat movie to be reminded about the lengths that we will go to for love...